We have streams like that here too. In fact there are two of them just a few miles from my house. When there is a lot of water from snow runoff they flow freely but later in the summer there is no flow at the bottom end while the streams are pretty normal further up. I think this ice is formed from snow melt that just seeps down through that ravine a little at a time but freezes before it reaches the end of the formation.
I think the formation of this structure is very slow and complicated, composed of many day/night cycles of snow melt seeping down over other icicles and freezing in the process, slowly building what looks like a waterfall. It is located in a rare location where the amount of daily sun and the amount of shade is in exact balance for the process.
With this ice structure there is no stream, either at the top of bottom. It all takes place from small amounts of water from brief periods of melting snow seeping down over previous icicles until the whole structure grows to look like a waterfall.
I noticed that this is in a very rare location where it is in shade most of the day getting just enough sunlight to melt a little snow at a time above the structure, then freeze quickly as it seeps down over the previous ice growth. This is a fairly tall structure, perhaps 50 feet or so. It did not exist when I visited there at the end of December, so it has taken nearly two months of strange weather (warm days and cold nights) to grow that large.
Almost every night from December until well into March the temperature drops below freezing. The water that formed this formation came from snow that melted in the daytime and trickled or seeped down the ravine over the ice already there. At night it would freeze, making the ice thicker and the “waterfall” longer, very similar to how icicles from on the roof of a house. This one took nearly two months to form as it is now.
I thought it was a riddle at first. I’m glad you provided a feasible explanation. Trying to figure out the “hows” of things drives me bonkers. Very bizarre. Do you think you’re the only human that has seen it?
There have been other visitors to that part of the canyon while the structure grew, but very few and I guess it depends on how observant they were at the time and perhaps what their purpose for being there was. I am fascinated by it because that is a very large volume of ice, at first glance it looks very much like a waterfall, and it’s incredible that the whole structure was able to form that way. I can think of no other way it could happen.
One of the pleasure of traveling through the backcountry is thinking about things like that and trying to figure them out. At the bottom of the canyon below that there is a series of beaver dams and it’s fascinating to read the signs that they leave in the snow and the ice and see what they have done to the trees, the branches that they leave around after they have eaten the bark from them and figure out how many there might be, at what stage of their winter activity they are presently and how well they are doing. There is plenty of evidence for someone who knows what to look for and what it means.
Yes, that is very fortunate for you…depending on the location and the time of year, I might not encounter anybody on the way up the trail, but there are invariably people coming up as I’m going down…sometimes only a few, and other times way too damn many…but I try to console myself by remembering that at least they’re out there and enjoying all of that natural wonderfulness…looking for that restoral of peace that we know can be had there….
beautiful high mountain photos in your previous post. It will be so different when the high mountain snow leaves. I always like seeing a little snow up there. So beautiful.
It is snowing here as i write, lightly.