Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Week Later

Taughannock Falls from the overlook, outside temperature of 0F. Wind chill was approx -20F.

When I went out for my walk yesterday, I knew full well that it was cold outside. The light has changed. The clouds move by in long streaks of grey. There are no birds fluttering to and fro.

But that didn't prepare me for the shock of it being so bitterly cold. Our driveway is gravel, and one of the odd things about gravel driveways is that they harden differently depending on soil moisture and depth of the hard freeze. Yesterday the driveway was a series of hard rolling divots, as though a giant had strolled by wearing cleats. Each protrusion a tiny frost lens pushing up. That should have been a clue.

By the time I had walked up the driveway and gathered the mail, I was downright cold. As anyone who has seen me without socks in February can attest, I generally don't get cold. So I picked up the mail and encouraged Georgia to get on with her business. She let me know as soon as she was done; she was ready to be back inside.

I added a few more layers in hopes of keeping warm on my walk. A snug cap with heat reflecting coating. Woolen mittens with fleece lining. By the time I was bundled up like the Michelin Man, I figured I was ready for anything winter could throw at me. Drive down to the park along roads so crusted with road salt that the warm(ish) air being blown around inside the van tasted seriously salty!

When I arrived at the North Point parking area at the state park, it was most decidedly empty. It was cold, sure. That made sense. What was wild was seeing the sublimation happening on the crashing waves in the lake. I had never seen anything like it.

My original plan was to walk the shoreline, then cut under the bridge and walk the gorge all the way down to the waterfall. It was my usual loop... just shy of 5K.

In the span of time it took me to walk the hundred or so feet from my van to the shoreline, my lips and mustache had frozen to the inside of the zipper of my parka (pulled up tight and high against the wind!). The ferocious wind made my goal of photographing the cold weather downright dangerous. I have never felt the warmth leave my body so fast. By the time I got off a dozen frames and turned back to the van, I couldn't feel my cheeks or fingers (despite all the layers!)

Back inside the warm van I decided to drive up to the falls overlook. Oftentimes the falls will ice over with majestic columns of ice left behind by all the spray. It seems to happen most often when the cold snaps are brutally quick like yesterday had been. The images I was able to capture of the falls were certainly worth the chill, but WOW! To think that kids were expected to stand outside to wait for the school bus in this weather is nuts. I was glad to see that schools were on a two hour delay today. I have to admit though, I am not sure how much it warmed up in those two hours.

Winter barred her teeth. And growled.

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