The snow that fell last week has lasted through a few shallow thawing periods, so we are still living in winter wonderland. In fact we have to break icy chunks off the car every morning, that’s no precipitated ice but powder snow blowing around all night and sticking to our car windows and windshield wipers.
When you check out the weather reports you assume warmer is better, but this week the opposite has been true; we’ve made some very nice walks in -13 the day before yesterday and today I hiked for 2 hours before lunch in -7, I know that sounds like a bone chilling freeze but the air is dry and I’m still in my summer jacket, it’s just really nice outside.
Yesterday though, we had a thaw of 4 degrees and everything was awful. We had lots of fresh snow on all the roads and powdery snow from the forest blew from everywhere into our eyes and ears, the car was barely manageable through the 30cm deep tracks on Torbay Road, steering was very hard and getting up and down steep hills a true challenge.
The ‘cold’ day before yesterday was much better at -13 degrees, our evening walk took us to Stiles Cove, which is an ocean inlet a few kilomters from our home with a pebble beach and a steep drop-off with some waterfalls. This time of year though, this scenic cove along the East Coast Trail is frozen solid, the grey pebble beach is hidden beneath the snow and the waterfalls have turned into cascading strands of ice. It’s a sight we had never seen before, something really special. I hope to return there soon with a tripod and lots more time, we only had 15 minutes this time because the sun was about to set, casting the forest into deep shadows already.
My hike today was on the East Coast Trail near the Ocean Sciences Centre where Marije works. This stretch of trail is very steep and right on the edge of the cliffs in some parts. In most places you can’t even see the trail because of the deep icy snow, so you have to be careful not to loose you footing. The surface of the snow has frozen back over after yesterday’s thaw, so you either have to wear those silly cartoon snow-shoes or trod it down it with every step and hope it’s still trail your walking on and not water or shrubbery. That happened anyway though, a few times I chose a path that appeared to be trail because of the lack of bushes and rocks, after a while it’s rather comical to realize you’re walking on an iced over river. Luckily they are narrow and shallow rivers, and after puncturing the snow I’ve cracked through the ice below it only a few times, always with a broad grin of recognition on my face.
The few times I’ve wandered off the trail into the undergrowth were much harder; you can’t see you’re leaving the trail or river, it’s all uniformly white and sparkling, but you know you’ve hit the undergrowth when after puncturing the snow with your boots, you sink down up to your knees in hard snow. Then, the going gets tough: you have to pull up your leg out of the first hole, you can’t put it forward or backwards because the surface of the snow is too hard, you have to raise your leg up high, fling it forward and puncture a new hole to get ahead. It’s very arduous but invigorating, especially when the wind picks up a few icy gusts of cold powder and pelts your face with it as you rest in your boots, ankered up to the knees in a solid plane of ice.
I guess christmas came early for me 🙂