Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Up close with the ice

A visit to any of the parks in the Hocking Hills region never fails to fill me with a sense of awe and reverence, no matter what the season. There's magic in them hills, I tell ya. Thus, it was no surprise that I was immediately taken in by the sight and feeling of the gigantic ice formation at Ash Cave.

The vast array of color and texture present within the formation was absolutely mind boggling.

Some images had to be converted into monochrome to really show off the texture.

In addition to the icy star of the show, there were some other nice things that caught my attention. The underground runoff from the ice mountain flows into a rippling creek, partly visible here.

Cone from an Eastern Hemlock

My first species ID puzzle of the year. I was very surprised to look down and see this bug actively walking about on the snow. I actually saw this same type of bug the next day at home, flying about, even. I've tried to identify it using my Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, but no luck yet. I'll keep trying though.

In case you didn't know what you're getting into here, it's icy here!

Don't worry, though, because I came prepared. My winter boots have absolutely NO traction (right Meg?), and I've taken a couple of spills due to this fact. Luckily I have a pair of Yaktrax, which give me great traction on the ice. Caution is still necessary, of course, but I would not have been able to take many of these ice photos without the help of these nifty little helpers.

The temperatures have risen and stayed above freezing for the last several days, so much of the ice and snow around the house and around town has melted. But I'm not done with the ice yet.

To see a special surprise that I found while taking these photos, please visit my photo blog.


Kelly said...

...these are gorgeous. I love the subtle colors showing in the ice. I think that bug is a winter stonefly. I had a friend who found a few in the snow this weekend too! Love your "chains!"

Heather said...

Kelly - I think you're right about the stonefly ID. My Kaufman guide says there are about 130 species of winter stoneflies living north of Mexico - wowza! Thanks for the tip. You're awesome!

Gabrielle said...

The patterns in the ice are just too cool! Beautiful! And yay for Yaktrax!

KaHolly said...

Heather, looks as though you had a great day! I just love nature's ice sculptures that you've captured here. And the colors that peak through to the surface! Great job sharing this adventure. ~karen

Weedpicker Cheryl said...

Winter Stonefly! See I learned something new- right here!
Thanks for the photo tour of Hocking Hills in the winter. Looks like a great place to be-


Heather said...

Gabrielle - I know, isn't it amazing? You sound like a Yaktrax owner - they're pretty darn cool, aren't they?

Karen - It was a great trip, indeed. Glad to have you along!

Cheryl - You have Kelly to thank for the stonefly ID. If you've never been to the Hocking Hills, you really should check it out sometime!

Erica Houskeeper said...

Hi Heather. What beautiful shots! The top cave shot has a really interesting perspective, and the patterns on the ice look like works of art (they are). Looks like you had an amazing day out there.

Heather said...

Erica - Thank you. Yes, the ice sculptures truly were a work of art, but it's a shame they are so transient and will be gone within a few weeks (assuming the weather ever warms up!).

Tom said...

If I were to put a guess on your bug, I'd say it was a stonefly, order plecoptera.

Heather said...

Tom - Thanks for your input.