|The first signs of water are appearing|
|Running snow melt opened up this large hole on the shoreline|
Last measured on Thursday, we had only lost about an inch of ice away from shore as the fresh, pristine snow is efficient at reflecting the sun's energy back from whence it came, and the warm days were thwarted by cold nights.
|There's still 24-25 inches of ice out there.|
The snow on the lake was good for skiing early in the week, but by Friday the surface was pretty coarse and wet. In the woods, under the trees there's still plenty of base, one to two feet worth, but the harsh winter storms have left too much debris on the trails to make it enjoyable for me.
|Trails in the woods are pretty ugly now|
So without a freshening, my backcountry skiing is over, but snowshoeing will be in the cards for some time and the ski areas will be open well into April. On a snowshoe trip on one of those warm and sunny afternoons I came across a family of three deer out in a clearing. They saw me first and were already moving along a well-worn trail back into the woods, stopping occasionally to look back at me as they went.
|A well worn deer trail from the power lines back into the forest|
Lots of animals were out enjoying the nice weather: I also saw a broad-winged hawk soaring on the currents, and a turkey vulture up at the top of the ridge doing the same. (Sorry no pics of any, my camera was in the backpack on this bushwhack trip.) It's a great time to explore new areas due to deep, firm snow which makes off-trail travel easy and low impact on the environment. Farther along the trip I came across another well traveled deer trail, this one up high on the ridge, and the amount of tracks and droppings indicate there's a very healthy deer population in this well isolated area of New Hampton.
|Well traveled trails, as well as a large stand of hemlock were littered with deer scat|
My brother sent me a picture of an interesting heron nest out on a beaver pond near his house.
|Would you build your home here?|
The level nest shows the herons built this after the tree had tipped over; it seems like a pretty precarious place for one to choose to raise a family!
The beaver lodges this time of year provide a great example of the impact the angle of the sun has on snow melt.
|Still a lot of snow on the north side of this lodge|
It makes it pretty clear why ski areas are on the north facing side of the mountain.
But eventually the snow will disappear from the dark side of the lodge, and as soon as those pockets of open water expand into long skinny channels following the shore line the homeowners will emerge and be out looking for fresh green signs of spring to savor after a long, dark winter. And we'll all be doing the same, looking for our own bright signs of spring.
|Snowdrops in bloom|