Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ice, ice baby...

My new snow shoes were needing an inaugural adventure!

Humming "I wondered as I wandered..." I headed out for a two hour long hike through the icy snows and frozen streams of Mill Creek Canyon.

I took to trails that I hadn't tried before, huffing and puffing up inclines hoping Christmas calories were being burned at record speeds.

(Huff puff huff puff...keep going, just a little ways more...)

Happily there were lots of picture worthy things to be seen along the trails.

(Pop quiz: which side of the tree is this snow clinging on?  Funny how my brain suggested that question to me;  the teacher/mom in me suddenly came out!)

The tiny bits of beauty gave me an acceptable excuse to pause and catch my breath from time to time.  

Magical places like this deserve to have a fairy present, don't you think?

The moss looks so delicate and yet stays green in the snow!

There were lots of these kinds of frosty looking spiderwebs on the mossy surfaces. 
I had to wonder if the spiders survive in the cold.  Surely there are no insects buzzing into their web now.

I'm happy to see the red barked branches adding color to this scene.

I tried photographing the scene with two camera settings to compare the outcome.  Verdict: I can't see any difference!

Next I asked myself if this scene was better photographed like this...

Or like this, with the signage in the view.
I surprised myself by liking the second shot better.
Usually I make a point of avoiding signs in my pictures, but somehow these look good to me.

The snow mounds were pristine white in real life, they photograph with grey grain for some reason.

Up close that grainy stuff is actually ice crystal edges poking out of the snow.

The crystals almost looked grass like on the snow surface.

I am still learning a lot about snow.

I don't understand how frosty ice radiating out from a rock can hover over the running stream.

Mill Creek has groomed cross country ski trails and walking paths.
Some times I stayed on the path, sometimes I wandered off the path for a bit.

I practice looking for small details on this part of the hike.

Lucky for me that I did that.  Otherwise I would have hiked right by these snow covered bare branches.

I had to get down on my knees to see beneath the mound.

That was where Jack Frost had performed his artistry.

This was my favorite shot of the group.

There didn't seem to be a pattern as to where the frost would form on the branches.  They seemed to sprout randomly on every possible side.

Eventually I figured I had taken all the possible shots of the frost and went to stand up.   That was pretty funny to watch; my knees kept sinking deeper into the snow every time I tried to unfold my legs to stand up.
Eventually I just rolled over on my side and rearranged my body so my mass covered more area.  Obviously I did manage to get up, but it was a pretty awkward (and funny...) move.

Lots of dog prints beneath that snowy branch formed hut.  While the dogs had explored the sheltered space, the humans had amused themselves by throwing snowballs upon the frozen surface of the stream pool below.

I wondered again: what are the factors that cause part of a stream to freeze while another part remains unfrozen?
The air temperature was just below freezing as I was walking; how cold would it have to get before the entire stream would freeze over?
(It is supposed to be 7 degrees here on Friday evening.  I might just have to drive over to take a look at the stream then at that temperature.)

The snow ball explosions upon hitting the ice made beautiful patterns on the ice.

Want to guess what this is?
Hint:  Mill Creek.

In all the times I have hiked around Mill Creek, I had never come upon this man made feature before.  I suppose it was made to harness the water power of the creek, but I didn't see any structure that might serve to transfer the water energy.
The water flowed freely in the middle, the edges were ruffled with ice.

I kept hoping to see some mild mannered wild like reposing in the snowy bowers along the way. 
I also kept hoping I would not disturb some cranky kind of wild life, like a badger or bear or something...

Another icy shelf floating about the stream's surface.  Did the stream level fall at some time recently?

As I was taking pictures I missed my daughter and my friends who also enjoy taking pictures outdoors.  Several times I asked myself what angles they would have captured had they been hiking along with me.

That rock is not attached to the surface below it. 
What happened to place it so?
What would have to happen to make it suddenly tip over now?
It does look tipsy, doesn't it?

Mill Creek has "dogs on leash" days alternating with "dogs off leash" days.
I can never remember which rule falls on the even numbered days and which falls on the odd numbers. 
In any case, there are lots of bagged evidence of doggy presences. I was getting a bit annoyed at the owners: did they believe in a dog doo fairy who would swoop down to retrieve their doggie gifts later on?

About an hour later I realized that *hopefully* the owners were leaving the bags along the trail to retrieve on their return trip down the trail.  It would make sense to not carry the stuff along during the hike.

It was quite obvious that it had been a few days since a fresh snow had fallen, there were lots and lots of yellow rimmed holes in the crusted snow.

I did hike up Church Fork where the stream had tiny splash by tiny splash encased overhanging branches in icy skirts.

A chopped down tree stump looked vaguely like a Holy Family scene.
Joseph, Mary and the Baby beneath her shawl...

There is such beauty to be seen here, both up close and afar. 
I had to raise up my head to see the distant views...and realize that yes, heat DOES rise, and rising heat from my face settles as frost on my glasses.
That physics fact gives me a good reason to walk with my head hanging down in the cold until I can figure out an safe antifogging treatment for my expensive eyeglass lenses.

The rocks had warmed when the sun had broken through, heating up the snow which then melted and ran down towards the stream where it then froze.
(Actually I was thinking: Wow that snow looks just like the icing that is drizzled on cinnamon rolls and pop tarts!)

I definitely want to see this waterfall frozen by the lower temperatures this weekend.

This is a private residence. I don't know if the mill wheel is merely decorative or functional.  Either way, the effect is quite charming.
Beside the house is pond that is beautiful in all seasons.

A second mill wheel is on a lower pond.  The grounds often are used for events; last fall there was a huge party with everyone wearing identical cowboy hats.

The property is directly across the street from the Log Haven restaurant; permission to photograph on the grounds is requested and a fee required.  I didn't step on the grounds, but I could see it might be worth paying to get even better shots someday.

Not that these "freebies" shots were all that bad.

Across the street: Log Haven.
(And no, I still haven't been taken there on a date yet...)
And so that was how I spent some of the fourth day of Christmas.
We were supposed to start getting heavy snowfall last night at 11.
It is now 11:40 in the morning and no snow has fallen here yet.  The temperature is 38 degrees outside, too warm for snow, so my plans to stay in to avoid driving in the snow have been totally shot.
Off to do errands....
Hope everyone who wants snow gets some from this upcoming storm!


ellen b. said...

Beautiful pictures Jill. You need to watch out though because you might have the whole world looking for that tree stump! :0)
It really does look like some Holy family scenes I've seen...
We had snow today! It's all melting off already...

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

"Log Haven" for some reasons brings the phrase "Hog Heaven" to my mind....??

This is quite an essay on the wonders of ice and snow! I laughed when I saw those closeups, imagining you crouched down low in the snow to get the photos....

I like the "Holy Family" first thought was it looks like an angel with beautiful snow-rimmed wings.

OK, you asked us a question. I'm guessing the snow would be on the north side of the tree....weren't we told as children if we ever get lost in a forest look for the moss on the north side of the trees? Or is that another one of my old-lady imaginings???

Pondside said...

I could feel that icy water!
You surely burned off an entire Christmas dinner and two desserts with that walk.

Karen @ Ocean Soul said...

I think you and your Rebel are taking fabulous pics!!! Loved the closeups of the frost. What a fabulous place to hike! And I first saw a bald eagle hovering over its catch, the golden beak pointed right at you, his wings hunched, protecting his catch, but then I did see the "Holy Family" too, after I read your interpretation. Very cool! There is amazing beauty to behold in winters icy grip. God does such a good job of seasonal decorating! He is my personal interior designer! LOL

Just a little something from Judy said...

AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY!!! I never wore snow shoes, and hiking in the snow is a rare occurence in my life, so this was a real treat for me today. I do really hope you get a date someday to visit "Log Haven", and you have your camera with you. What a place, and what a skilled photographer you are.