Hiking, USA
Comments 11

Danger: Thin Ice!

What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.

For most of that journey to this cafe (crammed with warmth-lovers and bagel enthusiasts as always), I was fixated on the pay-off: coffee and a peanut-butter and cream-cheese cinnamon-raisin bagel. Hiker food, and it always feels like a hike. I’m a creature of habit and have never deviated from this combo since first trying it. New Yorkers are as fussy about bagels as they are with pizza; all I know is that I’ve found yet another way to enjoy peanut butter. And they lather both spreads on like bricklayers slapping mortar between lumps of rock.

So anyway, it’s still pretty cold, and more snow is due tomorrow to replace that melting from driveway and roadside. I hope to spring into rhapsodies about green grass, blooming daffodils and mating woodpeckers on TGTW before long, but meanwhile I’ve still got several sets of wintry shots to share, beginning with this bunch from our first snowshoe ramble on Moreau Lake two and a bit weeks back.

*          *          *          *          *

Post-diner breakfast, snowshoes and snacks stashed in the back, it was a swift drive up US9 to the lake. The park office seemed to be hibernating, but a pair of resident felines with their own warning sign trotted over to an already-well-stocked parking lot demanding tribute:

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Leaving the gravel and the guard-cats behind, a pause to don appropriate footwear…

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..and we went a short way along a trail before deciding to leave the woods and stomp straight out onto the water.

I’d finally made it to the lake, one of Kate’s regular weekend hangouts in the Summer…

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..and without any plan firmer than avoiding the certain death that would result from walking it in an anti-clockwise direction, we started off around the perimeter.

It was cold, naturally, and overcast, of course, with a chill wind flinging snowflakes at us with what felt suspiciously like contempt:

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We always obey the signs.

Still, it was great fun, and walking on a frozen lake was a first for me.

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Father-and-son ice-fishermen (resident fish apparently include bass, perch, bullhead, pickerel and “pumkinseed” [!]) were out in the middle working way too hard at their hobby…

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..and we passed the odd rental cabin, boarded up for the season:

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Tracks of a few other snowshoers and skiers, some fresh, some older, circled the perimeter, or occasionally made straight for the middle and towards the opposite shore. The park stretches over 4,600 acres; apparently there are 148 campsites and three cabins. The lake itself covers 122 acres, with an average depth of 32 feet.

Despite the obvious apprehension that comes with traversing ice of indeterminate thickness, you almost forget (except where the ice has a greenish, shallow-water tinge) you’re walking on water:

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The main beach area where Kate brings her kids in kinder conditions:

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If you look at this map, you’ll notice a sort of “neck” at the north end. The “head” is called Mud Pond, and we ended up there after leaving the beach. I was some way behind Kate, held up by the take picture/slap sensation back into fingers process, when I noticed something on the left, a splash of vivid colour in the eternity of white, that looked — well, ominous.

I swung over for a look and found this…

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..the remnants of an unfortunate deer that had apparently been brought down by a pack of coyotes, their tracks dotting the lake surface just out from the trees:

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Kate was amazed that she’d walked right past this scene of carnage without noticing. I enjoyed the suggestion of animal drama still unfolding within a landscape so apparently still, a cycle you might assume was on hold.

Soon we noticed, further out on the ice, other signs of nature red in tooth and claw:

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We would have explored further, but were running out of time. Back across the “neck” on a footbridge…

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..and we reached the far shore, where after a short spell in the woods…

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..we opted to return to the ice for a more direct route back to the parking lot, the warm van and the other fearsome Moreau predators guarding it:

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~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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11 Comments

  1. You’re the only one I’ve found so far that makes reading about wintry walks, heck walks anywhere, so fascinating. Keep it up! Cheers!

    • Cheers, Peekie! Glorious weather this morning — off for a walk soon. Looking like wintry walks may soon be replaced by the sunshiny variety. And about time…

    • Kate’s not really a hiker, Ranu, though I’m slowly converting her into one! Most of my longer walks have been done solo — or at least I started solo…

  2. One thing about the snow — it does bring out nicely the bright accent colours! Lovely photos, as always. Those mating woodpeckers can’t be too far away, surely?

    • Thanks, SW. I will miss the snow photography — a little — till next time around. I think I was getting quite good at it. I hope I’m not jinxing myself, but yesterday was beautiful (if chilly on a mountaintop not far from here) and today is bright and sunny to (if chillier), so I’m heading back up to 36 to get some more photos with blue skies. The snow is receding from the roadsides at a pleasing clip.

  3. You guys are having one epic winter! I do hope there are signs of spring by now. Fascinating to see the remains of kills. A reminder that savagery is never as far away as we might like to think?

    • And we’ve since found a second deer kill, this time on the banks of the Hudson.

      Spring is here and I’ve never been so grateful. Having said that, a day or two after temps of Brisbane-like 25C, we got a couple of inches of snow again! It had mostly melted by the afternoon, fortunately, as I’ve begun attacking the garden at Kate’s — and it’s a very, very big garden…

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