137: Hiking to the damPosted: February 6, 2011
When we last saw our intrepid cross-country skiing, hiking couple, they were making their way to one of the Oil Creek State Park train stations for the purpose of trekking across the snowy trail to the ice control dam.
Actually, one of us trekked. The other decided skiing was the way to go. The one with the camera trekked/hiked. And I gotta tell ya, it was slow going. The snow was deeper than I thought, having only experienced it in this area on skis this trip.
I’m not entirely sure that was a public trail beside the tracks. Who can tell in winter? There were no “keep out” or “no trespassing signs” and it was obvious the tracks were not being used this time of year. The lucky part is that there were tracks in the snow from a truck or some other vehicle, making it a little easier for the hiker with the camera. The cross-country skier seemed to benefit from it too.
You may be wondering why we would take the trouble to hike a mile to see an ice control dam. Two miles round trip. Well, we drove past it, slowed down to look, and both thought it would be interesting to get a closer look as neither of us have ever seen anything like it. The road to the parking area near the dam was closed and, after consulting the map (one of those things on paper, not a GPS, something we don’t have), we saw the possibility that we could hike to it from the other side of the creek.
You may be wondering what an ice control dam is. Me too. It’s not easy to find information on this particular ice control dam. I finally found an article called Ice Dams: Taming An Icy River which explains it all nicely (leave it to Popular Mechanics to explain things nicely and well). Basically, it prevents a build-up of large chunks of ice (an ice dam) which can then cause flooding in a place where you don’t want flooding (towns, etc.).
Although not tall, it still provided a number of layers to look at, especially with all the ice and snow. You could see where the rains from a few days ago had brought the water levels up as there were large chunks of ice laying around along with some trees and branches.
Looking at the dam from our perspective at the time, to the right the creek appeared frozen over. To the left, the water ran mostly free in channels with small chunks of ice floating on top.
It was fascinating if you’re nerdy the way we are. And even if you’re not if might be. The way the ice and snow build on the dam and the water sometimes flows under a thick cover of ice was certainly not something I see all the time.
I must swear too much. I keep typing “damn” where it should be dam. Damn. I did it again. But corrected it so you can’t tell I did if I hadn’t just mentioned it.
I was busy watching the creek on our hike to the dam. On the way back I took a good look at the walls of rock to our right and found that water had seeped through the rocks in the same way as at the Blue Wall. It wasn’t nearly as impressive in that it wasn’t gathered together in one, half-circle space, but it was tall, blue and pretty cool.
So endeth our adventures of last weekend. Thank goodness. That means I can move on to current events. Not that there’s a lot to report there but it’s nice to be caught up.
We had fresh snow yesterday and overnight so you know what that means… skiing! We were up early so we decided to head north to Chapin Forest Reservation where we’ve found the best cross-country skiing in our area. To date. We’re new at this. There may be better places to go. We just haven’t found them yet.
Since we’re getting a little better at skiing, we went further than our first trip out there, exploring the trails a bit more. M thinks we should be able to go from one side of the park to the other, have lunch in the lodge, and then head back on our next outing. We’ll see.
I’m beginning to run down. I’ve had a lot of aches and pains for the past few weeks. I normally bully my way through it and keep moving, but it may be time for me to rest a little because it’s getting pretty bad. It’s time to spend time soaking in the disco tub. Do some gentle and restorative yoga. Just rest and recover so I’ll be ready for a long skiing adventure.
You probably know David Byrne from Talking Heads. Once again, I like the Latin-infused rhythms and sounds. One review I read described it as merger of Latin American music with Brit-pop-wave with a definite Talking Heads flavor to it. It’s certainly eclectic. (I wonder how often I’m going to use “eclectic” to describe individual selections in what has to be a truly eclectic collection of music that M and I have gathered over the years.)