Living in a Slippery World

This past Sunday morning the temperature hovered around 20 degrees. The snow was thin at best in our neck of the woods, but as Julie looked at our back yard she had an idea. Instead of strapping on skis or snow shoes, we laced up our ice skates at the edge of a huge frozen puddle in our back yard and went skating.

Our neighbor’s yard drains right into our own, and then the water sits in a huge swell before trickling down a sad little drainage pipe that cannot handle all of the water. In some places the water is easily about six inches deep. Our little ice rink was roughly 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a hockey rink, so we really got moving. In fact, I think it’s bigger than the little skating rink in our town. I would post pictures, but the batteries were dead on our camera. Our neighbors took pictures of us, but it’s hard to tell just how big this patch of ice truly is.

On Monday the temperature jumped to the 50’s and then rain splashed down all day making a mess of ice, snow, slush, and mud. All prospects of winter sports were washed away.

By Tuesday the temperature plummeted again and we even received a few inches of snow. It was just enough to tempt me into a brief snow shoe in the Equinox Pond trail system of Manchester, VT at the end of the day. I was hoping that the snow would provide enough traction to hike with just my boots. Snow shoes for a paltry bit of snow seemed like overkill. Not ten steps away from the car one leg shot out from under me and I engaged in a dramatic dance to maintain my footing.

Back to the car.

After strapping on my snow shoes I crunched into the ice and up the hill to the trail system. The whole hike consisted of digging my metal crampons into the think ice under the thin layer of snow just to keep my footing. Needless to say I looked for a level hike.

We’ve skied, hiked, and snow shoed in these woods all of the time and generally know each trail and where there are streams to cross, but yesterday I found a new stream. Along the Flatlander trail I found a roaring stream running right across the trail. I’ve never seen this one before. It wasn’t just a little run-off. It was a wide, rushing stream. Enough to force me to turn around.

So that’s the kind of winter it’s been over the past week in Southern Vermont. Ice. Lots and lots of ice. Think ice in parking lots, thin ice on the roads, and sheets on hiking trails. It’s enough to make me say, “Stay out of Vermont! Wait for the Spring!” Of course we’re still hoping for another big snow fall before Spring hits, but at this point Spring is sounding pretty nice…