In the early hours of this morning the first part of an Arctic air mass from the gulf of Alaska began to move into our area. The night’s low of 6° warmed only to a day’s high of 10° and it is back down to 4° now that the sun is setting: it will be cold tonight! Along with the frigid temperatures from that air mass however, came crystal clear air, sun and mostly clear skies. With the fresh clean snow from yesterday and today’s sun, Nature painted some nice scenery making today a nice memory of 2010.
Perhaps the art that hangs on the cliff walls of this lonely little canyon in winter is one of nature’s ways of providing a metaphysical balance between the reality of our planet and the artificial world that men have superimposed upon it.
About two miles beyond the gate that closes an old logging road that runs through the canyon, the canyon sides narrow and on the west side is an area of cliffs some two hundred feet high. Among the breaks in the cliffs are small seeps of water, hardly noticeable is summer, that form some interesting displays of icicles in winter. Just follow the Cougar tracks, and the hike up the road is quite a pleasant one. (If the current weather forecast is correct, the next trip up the road this winter will have to be on snowshoes.)
The next post or two will include some photos of the icicle displays; Nature’s artwork.
On a brief trek today while enjoying the fresh snow on the Spring Creek trail, as I passed the exact place where I encountered a bear and her cub this past summer, I was filled with wonder at the thought that somewhere, probably not too far from the trail, they are now in the midst of their long winter’s sleep in their cozy den beneath the snow.
One of my favorite Christmas presents actually came yesterday when this beautiful little wild creature tolerated my presence at close range for a full four minutes and posed so nicely for me all the while. He abruptly ended the session when he launched from his perch atop a Mullein stalk, flew like a dart into a small clump of brush about 40 feet away and caught a vole for his supper. This photo was taken at a distance of about 20 feet and the image is approximately life-size: the photo has not been cropped. It’s difficult for me to imagine a much better gift!
A large variety of icicles form during most winters high on the sheer cliffs in the deep part of the Buffalo Bill Creek canyon. The ones in this photo are perhaps a hundred feet above the creek bottom and the longer ones I would estimate at about 6 feet in length. It’s about a two mile hike to get to the location and a lot of that is uphill. As I hiked the old logging road to it today there was about 6 inches of frozen and crusted snow on the ground, covered by about 4 inches of powder, and for the entire distance I had the pleasure of walking in Cougar tracks that had been made there several hours earlier.