Monday, December 5, 2016

The Iceman Cometh

Partially melted and refrozen ice "berries" on weed twigs.
I was at the lake last week to do more trout fishing, before the weather gets too brutal here at 7,000 feet in elevation. It gets me into the outdoors for several hours a day in a way that I otherwise wouldn't be. So it's good.

Standing in and walking around a relatively small area outside for hours allows me to relax into the scenery, the weather, while watching the birds move around doing their thing. Their things.

For instance, the other day when I got to the lake shore at my favorite, most productive spot, I saw that the lake was starting to freeze. Only in one small protected cove, but that's how it starts. It caused me to realize that I was going to get to watch the lake freeze over, stage by stage, for the winter. Then I will watch it lie dormant, frozen and snow covered through the "dead" of winter. Then watch it start to re-emerge in several months as springtime returns. I'm looking forward to that. I have the time, the convenient proximity to the lake, and the health to be out there daily if I want.

Early ice shelf on a protected cove on the lake.

Besides the beauty of the modest ice shelf itself, I became intrigued by some somewhat spherical "blobs' of ice that were on the stalks of weeds a few inches above the surface of the ice sheet. It wasn't hard to guess how they had come to be.

They formed when the lake level was as couple inches higher. It had been cold enough to freeze around the twigs a little bit, probably with a gentle lap of the water's surface with a gently breeze. That's my guess.

The Abajo Mountains in the distance, source of the lake's water.

Then the lake level dropped with the colder weather,  because the stream that feeds it reduced in flow as its headwaters in the mountain slopes above became frozen. The lake continues to evaporate slowly while its water supply from the mountains is all but shut off by winter's freeze up higher.

Ice berries on dead weeds, sparkling in the cold sunlight.

As for the ice "berries", the sunlight partially melted them during the day, while it stayed cold enough to not melt them entirely. Pretty amazing.

The ice berries were so gorgeous that I had to suspend my fishing to photograph them.

Rainbow trout, perfect pan frying size.
Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

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