At Elk Lake, Each season seems to take on a life of its own. Thus we've had the summer of rain, the winter of the wolves and so on. This winter, at least thus far, is definitely in the running for the most unique winter of our sojourn. In fact, we built our first ever ice skating rink. This year, too, has included much less sking and much more snowshoeing than ever before.
Dry, high-mountain snow does not lend itself easily to snowshoeing. I've heard some people rave about snowshoeing. Until this year I've never seen the draw. Why? Because snow shoes SINK in our powdery dry snow. In fact, even with our low snow conditions, it is still common to sink to your knees - and that makes for a great thigh workout!
The day started with sunlight streaming in the windows to accentuate the yummy goodness of fresh baked Poppy Seed Muffins. This is one of my favorite muffin recipes. It is also one of the stickiest, ichiest creations to get out of a muffin pan that I have every seen. However, with my new silicone bakeware - well, as you can see the end result is beautiful!
I am not a 'gun' person. I have never killed wild game (but I will definitely eat it). I have hunted. However, I prefer to hunt with a camera. However, with the increased bear encounters last summer / fall (definitely the summer of the grizzly), I asked for a handgun to pack alongside my bear spray on my hiking excursions. Here hubby tries it out. (And, if you're like me, and hate to fire a gun even for target practice - because I can't imagine it doesn't scare the animals who live in the vicinity - well, you'll be glad to know we saw nothing fresh but little critter tracks near our shooting range.)
The day was just too nice - to nice not to remember in pictures. And, since a family outing is 'typically' rare during on 'on' season, we had to record this privileged day.
I am always amazed at the beautiful things one can find if they look. Rabbit Brush, once the flowers have died, does not define 'beauty' in my eyes. However, with the sun rays highlighting the few remaining puffy seedheads and the last surviving dried flowers - well, I'd be glad for these 'flowers' to grace my table any day of the week.
As has been the 'norm' for so much of the winter, we found ourselves in the 'eye' of the storm. Clouds boiled and brewed in the distance, threatening something, but overhead our skies were blue and sunlight cast a rosy hew on the sagebrush. However, things really looked more like November than January!
While to our North the Madisons remained distinct, their backdrop darkened as we watched. For those of you who have enjoyed Gary Carter's "Elk Lake Divide", you might recognize the perspective. We are just up the hill from where he posed his mountain man.
Dropping down the hill off the saddle, we began our trek back to the lodge. Heavier tree cover only allowed peek-a-boo glimpses - but those we enjoyed were strikingly beautiful.
I wasn't the only one behind the camera this day. I wonder what I look like with a camera in my face :-)
Back down on the lake the wind was whipping the snow into a turmoil. The blowing snow turned our 'ice rink' and the bare ice around it into an frozen palate upon which the wind blew snowy patterns - highlighted by the sun's lengthening rays. It was incredibly beautiful to behold.
As I mentioned in my last post, one unexpected benefits found while removing the snow from the ice for our rink was the beauty of the ice we uncovered. However, even more beautiful things were revealed in the ice the wind unburdened. This was a 'natural' hole. In other words, this is over shallow water and the edges are too uneven for it to have been drilled. Perhaps an otter created it. What fascinated me, however, was the frozen bubbles of snow trapped in the clear ice. So caught up was I in the details, it took my daughter to point to its unique pig-like shape! (The marks on top were created by my son's snowshoes. Unfortunately he beat me to the spot!)
Further 'Ice Art' was revealed in other sections. For example, this photo contains some of the snow 'bubbles', a sampling of frozen water grass trapped in an icy grip, and a sampling of the various ice forms created by a natural lake.
This section intrigued me as well. The clear ice once again reveals snow bubbles (BTW the larger 'bubbles' were at least the size of quarter) and frozen lake weeds. However you can also see the vertical layers in the ice apparently created as it thickened and formed. The top and bottom photo edges show what we call 'crackle' ice - ice which had snow inbedded in it creating air bubbles which 'crackle' under pressure.
Heading back to the lodge, my eye was arrested by the sun's long rays fingering through the willows. Long shadows on pristine snow and red willow branches create as scene which, somehow, is incredibly peaceful.
The long light of a fading day is just too spectacular to be wasted. Thus as the others hurried for the warmth of the lodge, I looked around for ways to capture the beauty of this 'different' winter. My eye was arrested by this natural winter floral arrangement. The lovely evergreens backed by starkly white aspen bark punctuated by brilliant red rose hips and accentuated by the sun's last rays - ahhh - nature's beauty in full display.
And so, as this odd winter trudges past, we are finding reasons to rejoice the beauty outside our door - be it ice or snow or winter flowers! Each is a gift to be treasured - and I do!
Lady of the Lake