Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter H2O

Overflow on Fossil Creek sloshes over my skis.

It seems inevitable that during at least a few ski trips I will have to deal with liquid H2O. This year has been no exception even though much of the winter has been quite cold. Overflow is common on many creeks in the interior as water under pressure flowing beneath the ice surface is squeezed skyward up through cracks. As the water reaches the surface it typically spreads out laterally across the channel. The most dreaded situation is where water collects under the surrounding snow pack and is insulated from the cold air above. An unsuspecting traveler can cross a pristine surface of snow and without warning immediately drop into water hidden just out of view.

Here is a spot that was difficult to negotiate without metal edged skis. I decided to walk just along the edge of the angled ice where there was a bit more traction but making sure to avoid the adjacent snow pack where liquid water might be lingering. Kaplunk!!!-- the crust collapsed and I found myself in an icy water slurry up to my knees. No surprise - I knew I was flirting with a soaking. I was too lazy to put cat track spikes over my soles and walk across the ice.

Water and below freezing temperatures are an unfortunate combination. My saturated boot and pant leg immediately froze-up when they came in contact with the cold air. So I quickly chiseled the ice out, clamped my skis back on, and daintily maneuvered myself across the ice.

Another stretch of overflow or glare ice. This was much easier to negotiate because it was solid with a few windblown patches of snow to ski between. On metal edged skis this is easy travel.

Jeff has similar issues to contend with while traveling over ice and through water: crashing, breaking through the ice surface, and ice build-up on his wheels.

On this trip Jeff's bigger frustration was patiently waiting for a portion of trail that was firm enough to ride.

Some sheep wandering around the hillside were a nice distraction from all the wrestling I did to remove ice from my boots.

My lone ski tracks coming down from Cache Mountain divide.


Diego González said...

this blog is amazing! I'll be tracking it!

Diego González said...
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