122: Minus Seven

(Me at The Blue Wall.)

I’ve done at least three things outside of my comfort zone today.  I’m pretty sure that’s  my personal best.  Three in one day.

The first thing I did that would be obvious to you is that photo up there.  I don’t usually feature myself as top photo (even on the rare occasions I post a self-portrait).  There’s a good reason for that.  I’m the shy, quiet type.  And my blog posts are published on Facebook and Twitter via Networked Blogs and the first thing that shows up is the first image.  I usually aim for something pretty since that’s what folks will see and inspire them (or not) to click and visit my blog.

(Camp Whitewood.  Leaving the camp and entering the woods in the early morning.)

The second thing I did that is outside of the usual and certainly not within anyone’s comfort zone, is get up early on a Saturday to go for a hike fully aware that it was -7°F.  Is that insane or what?  Who does that?

(I was not the only crazy one out there.)

Not just me, I’ll tell you that.  There were nine other people tramping through the snow in the woods with me this morning.  One of those nine was my favorite and almost-a-lifetime hiking partner, M.  Another of the nine was our guide (the guy pointing his walking stick up at a tree with the sun just above his shoulder).

M and I signed up for this hike through the Holden Arboretum.  Here is part of the description:

Behind Locked Gates Forest Adventures
The Blue Wall

Discover the amazing giant ice wall of Warner Hollow near Windsor.  This frozen monument of blue, white and tan ice is one of the most spectacular sites in Ohio.  This walk also includes a visit to a frozen waterfall, a covered bridge, and remnants of an ancient Erie Indian fortification.  Warner Hollow has a variety of forest communities that reflect a variety of exposures, elevation and moisture…

(A glimpse of the frozen waterfall.)

Insanity has its payoffs, including a look at something not a lot of people get to see because the hike was, as described, on private property (or “Behind Locked Gates”).  Sure, it was cold.  But it was incredibly beautiful.  I don’t know how it happened.  Everything lined up almost just right.  The sky was mostly clear.  We got to see the sunrise on our way to the meet-up point.  The early morning sunlight on the snow was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

(Into the woods.)

And it was cold, cold, cold in that winter wonderland.  -7° when we started at the top of ravine.  (Take note of that minus sign.)  We made our way through the woods, past the handsome snow covered hemlocks.  Our guide stopped every now and then to point out a few things (such as the Erie Indian fortification which looked pretty much like a snow covered mound blending in well with the rest of the forest).

(Near the edge.)

And now we come to the third thing I did today that was outside of my comfort zone.  The ravine.  Specifically, a steep climb down to get to the bottom of the ravine.  As some of you know, I have this fear of heights and going downhill (due to a fall in what seems like a previous life).  I manage, most of the time, since I enjoy hiking (especially in the mountains of Colorado).  Sometimes, though, I look down a steep trail and freeze up.  I almost did that today.  No, not literally.  Well, maybe that too.  (Hey!  It was cold out there!)

I'm doing it!(Going down without an elevator.)

If you should happen to have a similar fear/problem, I recommend working it out on a cold winter’s day when there is a good cushioning of snow (a foot, sometimes two feet in spots) and you have at least eight strangers waiting for you at the bottom.  One of the advantages of the arctic cold temperatures is the padding from all the layers you have to wear.  Even if I had tumbled down the ravine, I was so padded that I’m pretty sure I would have been okay as long as I avoided any trees along the way.

I don’t have photos of the steep parts of the trail, the parts that made me shiver in more than just fear.  I was too busy watching my feet and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, taking it one step at a time.

(At the bottom of the ravine.)

According to our guide, the temperature dropped with our elevation drop.  About 5-8 degrees.  You do remember that when we started it was -7°F, right?  Yeah, it was cold.  And blue.  And absolutely beautiful.  Beyond description beautiful.  Beyond photographing beautiful.  But I did the best I could.  (I had to carry my camera under my coat to keep it warm.  Otherwise it freezes up, usually due to the batteries getting cold.)

Part of our walk through the bottom of the ravine involved walking over slabs of ice that were not visible due to the snow (so we had to take our guide’s word for that).  There is a creek running through there, frozen over in spots, running freely in other places.

(A small section of The Blue Wall.)

As we made our way along the creek, we glimpsed the blue ice in the distance.  And then, the way opened up and there it was…  The Blue Wall.

Isn’t it beautiful?  Incredible?  One of the most wondrous things you’ve ever seen?  Maybe not.  My photos are not even close to being as good as being there, toes numb, face freezing, yet somehow managing to smile at Nature’s beauty and creativity.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  Beautiful, incredible, wondrous.

(The Blue Wall with our guide in the picture to give some perspective.)

The blue color in some of the ice is caused by a lack of oxygen.  In the above picture you can see a little of the tan colored ice as well.

We were not able to finish the hike as planned.  As we made our way around the blue wall and back into the woods to follow the creek, we found the creek was not frozen enough to cross without getting wet feet.  Nobody wants wet feet on a day like today.  We ended up going back the way we came, up the steep hill to the top of the ravine.  I don’t mind the going up part so much.  It was warming, too.  I think most of us had worked up a good sweat by the time we made it back up to the top.

We walked back through the camp and down the road to see the covered bridge.  I’ll bring you some photos of that tomorrow.  I also have more photos of The Blue Wall.  I quickly picked out a few so I could get this post up before the day is over.

See you at the covered bridge!

(And remember:  You can click on any of the photos to see the larger version.)

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41 Comments on “122: Minus Seven”

  1. Vasare says:

    beautiful photographs! looks cold very freezing I have to say:)

  2. Really beautiful. I hope the weather breaks here soon so I can get out in our own woods and work on our hiking trails. I’m not really into hiking in the cold weather so much, although we just got some snow shoes, and I’ve been out a few times.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, AThursdaysChild. And thank you for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

      I usually won’t go out in such cold weather either. But I’m committed to getting outside every day for a year so out I go. 🙂

  3. anhinga says:

    I know the good Lord appreciates someone who enjoys His handiwork as much as you do everyday. Haven’t you unearthed (no pun intended) more and more true nature loves on the web? It’s like we all came out of the closet when there was a place to post our thoughts, but nobody does it better than you. This was an amazing piece. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Anhinga. 🙂

      And yes, that’s true. It makes the internet a wonderful place at times. Funny how technology serves nature in that way.

  4. Karma says:

    Wow, quite the amazing day! I’d love to go for a hike like that, but not in that weather! I’m glad you did though! The sunlight in photo #2 is gorgeous and the blue wall, if I can call it this, is cool. Neat to see you too – even if you are bundled to the point of not much recognition! 😉

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Karma. 🙂

      Having looked at that photo of me again this morning, my hood makes me look like I’m growing a beard. lol! I’m not, of course, but it does add to that effect of being bundled to the point of not much recognition.

  5. Corina says:

    Wow. Pretty awe inspiring. One of the things I would really like to see for myself is a local waterfall (Multnomah Falls) when it is frozen. The problem is that to get to that area, you have to drive on this one icy road which is closed when it is cold enough for the waterfall to be frozen so I doubt I will get to see it.

    I know I would never go on the kind of hike you shared with us. I’m glad you went and brought us along!

  6. photobyholly says:

    You are a brave, brave woman!! I couldn’t even muster up the courage to open my front door today!! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous – especially the ones with the sun streaming through! It MUST have been a sight to see in person!!

  7. Christina says:

    Stunning!! Reminds me of the blue in the front walls of a glacier. So spectacular.

    I was very pleasantly surprised to see your smiling face up there for once 😉

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Christina. 🙂

      Well, you know, every now and then I do allow my own photo to be taken. It is rare, though. Thanks goodness! Like most people who spend a lot of time behind the camera, I don’t like to be in front of it.

  8. “Isn’t it beautiful? Incredible? One of the most wondrous things you’ve ever seen?”….Absolutely, Robin! Thank you so much for braving those mind-bogglingly cold temperatures and keeping your camera warm enough to take such incredible photos! I for one would never have the opportunity to witness these beauties of nature, if it wasn’t for seeing these photos. 🙂

    Just a thought, have you considered taking this same hike during the warm weather? The contrast would be interesting to see.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Joanne. 🙂

      I’d love to take the same hike during warmer weather, especially during the thaw. Our guide mentioned that it’s really something to see and hear when all the ice on the wall starts to melt. However, it’s private property so the only way we could hike it again would be in another group situation scheduled by the arboretum (or the botanical garden, maybe). I will certainly keep an eye out for such an event.

  9. Bo Mackison says:

    OOOO, I so enjoyed this post. What a gorgeous hike, and that blue ice is breathtakingly beautiful.

  10. Nice meeting you in person picture ;). Your Blue Wall is absolutely gorgeous. These photos make me want to go on the hike even if I’m not a fan of winter weather. The sheer breathtaking images makes me want to forget being cold. Lovely pictures.

  11. penpusherpen says:

    Wow!!!, Robin, The Blue Wall is spectacular, almost out of words here… A first for me.
    Congrats on cracking your three comfort zones, and lovely to ‘see’ you, shake pardner!!I felt I was right there, looking over your shoulder again. Seeing the marvellous sights, and experiencing the cold and icy temps, instead of sitting here, sipping freshly filtered coffee, (second cup, I know… bad for me) but how mad am I? Wishing I was there instead!! But I can dream!!…Oh Yes, I have a very vivid imagination too, so I am there, in spirit, can’t you hear my ‘whoops’ of joie de vivre?… xPenx

  12. patbean says:

    Beautiful winter photos. Thank you so much for sharing Robin

    Pat Bean
    http://patbean.wordpress.com

  13. jenna says:

    -7 FARENHEIT?! That’s cold enough to take the experience from wondrously beautiful to transcendent, I imagine.

    Even though this made me shiver, I’m envious. I want to see the Blue Wall. And it’s right in Ohio – imagine that.

    • Robin says:

      Transcendent is a good word for it, J. After a while you either have to enjoy what you’re doing or be miserable from the cold. One of our group (a teenager) decided on miserable, poor guy.

      And yes, it’s right in Ohio. You could do more than imagine that. You could visit someday. 🙂

  14. burstmode says:

    These are remarkably beautiful but so cold looking…

  15. ybonesy says:

    Very cool that you took these risks. You and M are a great pair, pushing each other to do such hard things that in the end have great pay-off.

    • Robin says:

      I hadn’t really looked at it that way, Ybonesy. Not recently, at least. M and I do tend to push each other in ways that allow us each to grow. We’re not exactly opposites but our interests sometimes reach that way.

      We were discussing books tonight. M usually reads whatever I hand over to him since he doesn’t really have much time for relaxation reading. He does a great deal of reading for work so when it comes to reading books, I try to pick out something that I think will make it worth his while to do that extra reading. Sometimes it’s something light and easy. Or fast and thrilling. On rare occasions I’ll hand him a more serious read based on known likes and dislikes. He doesn’t like my latest pick (it happens), although I think he might if he keeps going. It’s the first one I’ve given him that’s in the sci-fi/fantasy genre and he doesn’t like the “new language/worlds” aspects. On the other hand, I find it difficult to push him in that regard since I instituted the 50-page rule for myself (if I can’t get into a book by page 50, I give up because there are so many books and so little lifetime, although there have been exceptions to that rule).

      All in all, it’s an excellent partnership. Even when I don’t like what he likes, and he doesn’t like what I like. The differences keep life interesting and an almost constant learning experience. 😀

  16. Kel says:

    that is a spectacular blue wall
    what a great opportunity to view it in person

    from our recent experience, when it’s that cold, as long as you keep moving and are doing something that really interests and inspires you, it’s a lot of fun braving the winter weather

  17. Marianne says:

    Wow! This is great Robin. You are brave. Beautiful photos. Exciting day. Good for you!

  18. […] the Blue Wall experience this past weekend (you can catch up on the adventure here and here, if you missed it), life here at Breezy Acres and around the pond seems almost dull in […]

  19. bearyweather says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful place … what a great gift .. I got to see it without climbing mountains in snow and -7º temps.

  20. […] per outing, but that got thrown out sometime during the winter months.  Probably when we took that hike to the Blue Wall.  It might have happened early on in the commitment, though.  Perhaps when we took the bike ride […]

  21. […] person back in September about one of my photos of the Blue Wall (specifically, the 11th photo in this post).  They wanted to use it in their winter activities calendar.  I was thrilled and naturally said […]

  22. […] I’ll never forget.  If interested, the posts with photos from that hike can be found here, here, and […]


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