Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Sparkling Splendor of Ice

On Friday we were getting weather advisories left, right and center, warning us of the upcoming weekend atrocities. And indeed, on Saturday morning we were subjected to an arctic blast from Siberia with temperatures colder than the devil's deepest depths. With winds raging between 20-30 mph and blasts of 50mph, it was not a day where anyone wanted to be outside. There was snow, freezing rain and black ice warnings the night before so I drove very carefully to the recycling center in town to rid the house of all my rubbish. It seemed that that's what other folks were doing too as the center was quite crowded. I rushed home and snuggled in front of the fire with the cats and watched TV for the rest of the day with intermittent naps. Heaven.
But of course by Sunday I was bored and so grabbing my camera I drove very carefully and headed for the country lanes to find shots of ice. The sun was shining but it was still very cold with the temperature in the single digits, so I didn't wander too far from Stuart.
I found a lake near Front Royal with water tumbling over a wall down to a creek below.
I lay on the cold wall for the shot above, it makes me shiver thinking of it now.
After only 20 minutes or so my camera battery had died so I had to trudge back to the car for another, feeling very thankful that I had fully charged my two spares. The cold really saps the power from them. I trekked back to the lake to snap a few more shots, having to tread very carefully as the snow had turned to ice on top and was very slippery. But before another 20 minutes had passed the frigid air had beaten me back to the car and I sat inside squeezing my nice hot hand warmers that I'd brought with me, forcing warmth into my fingertips. I stopped for a coffee and a bag of Skittles for my next leg of self imposed photography madness.
Near Front Royal is a very pretty valley that has a river running through and is flanked along some of the road by a steep wall of rock which was covered in icicles. As I stepped out from the car I spotted a guy by the river fishing. Unbelievable.
Although from the photos above the road looks clear, it was actually quite busy and I was honked a few times by drivers as I took my photos. I wasn't sure whether this was because they felt I was encroaching into their road space or whether they though I was barking mad. Most likely a combination of both but after a while it became annoying and so I stomped back to Stuart again. And the fisherman was still there, and had caught nothing.
I took a tiny lane, that led uphill and away from the traffic, and after a couple of miles came across a small bridge with a creek running underneath. Despite the numerous 'no trespassing' signs, I'm sure every tree had one, I took some photos of the ice formations. There was a little house across the road whose owners could easily have spotted me, but I guess they deemed me harmless, or had no desire to come outside and shoo me away.
Regardless, I didn't push my luck by wandering too far along the banks. I only spent a few minutes snapping shots and then lunged for the car and my hand warmers again. Time to head home. Looking at my photos later I was impressed at the various patterns and formations Mother Nature had carved throughout the weekend. I added some color to a few but left most to their natural hues.
Sunday night the snow came and deposited a generous 3" throughout the dark hours and into the day, followed by freezing rain Monday night. Then heavy, torrential rain followed on Tuesday morning with temperatures nearing the 50's. That cleared a lot of the ice but a poor man died near our hill on Monday morning after colliding with a snow plough on slippery ice.This crazy weather is causing chaos and is showing no signs of leaving us just yet, we have more snow forecast on Tuesday...

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