Saturday, January 29, 2022

First Day Hike - Mid January Version

Way back in 2021, a group of us headed out in the the New Jersey Pinelands, scouting out a potential route for a First Day Hike.

Well the first day came, Patty and I were in Florida, and back in New Jersey the weather was craptastical, so the hike was postponed. 

Until January 23rd. A cold but otherwise gorgeous day.

Which meant Patty and I could join in on the fun! Woo Hoo!

Our fearless, mostly, leader Terry, and her brother from another mother (and father) Tom.

We wandered down old sand road. Where by old it means from the 1940s. Older than all us hikers.

At which point we turned down another sand road, provenance unknown. Spoiler alert: it's sand roads all the way around.

Except for this bit. The sand road was bisected by this watercourse. The logs in the background a bridge we, where we were mainly Joe, a retired carpenter who helps maintain the Batona Trail these days, 'built' to cross.

Only five of us were brave enough to cross. Our previously fearless leader was not one of the five.

And off we went down a sand road covered with pine needles.

Along the way we spotted the remnants of a number of Earthstars. A type of fungi.

Patty likes Earthstars. (So do I.)

Eventually we made it to the beach, one of many such along the Wading River.

Not your typical beach attire. That's Joe, of bridge building fame, on the left.

A picturesque tree. On a warmer day a spot to sit and dangle one's toes in the stream.

Picturesque in the other direction as well. On weekends in the summer it would be crowded with kayakers. Some of us hikers, myself included, have been a part of the crowd.

On the way back we passed by what remains of the original Evans Bridge. A bridge Joe had no hand in the construction of. At least as far as I know he didn't.  

We exited the woods just south of the aforementioned Batona Trail. Joe may have had a hand in the construction and-or maintenance of these bridges. 

We then headed back to the cars for a bit of refreshments, shrimp, a variety of cheeses and meats, yummy lemon bars, chips and dip, among other stuffs. And took turns sitting on Terry's accordion chair.

Image courtesy Terry Schmidt

A good time was had by all.

Ice Bells

During our time at the beach along the Wading River, we discovered some interesting ice formations.

They looked like bells. Which raises the question, how did they form.

There were other, similar forms, most just a little to far for close up shots. In a variety of bell like and non-bell like shapes.

My best guess as to why they look like bells is that as moisture condensed out of the air, it did so on strands of the moss hanging down. And as it condensed gravity pulled it down, so that most of it froze on the bottom. But why did it end where it does? And why the bell shape? My hypothesis is that there was a layer of ice on top of the stream, it was still there in other spots nearby, so the water would hit that layer of ice and then spread out. Freezing in the 'cone' shape that forms the 'bell'. But why the 'cap' at the top of the cone? I have no idea. A puzzlement.

And another bit of ice that makes me smile.

Little - Big

Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are very similar in appearance.

So much so one would be forgiven for thinking Downys were just young Hairys.

They're not.

The main difference is size. Which is why it is so nice when they show up on the same tree.

Icy Colors

The front bubbler was not the only thing freezing over.

The Fish Pond has as well.

When we moved in Dennis, the prior owner told me that it was important to have some open water for the fish. And he left us a heater to put in the filter box.

Most years, that is enough to keep an area around the filter box ice free. Not this year however.

Thus I've been smashing the ice to open up that zone. One enjoyable side effect of which has been the interesting optical effects, highlighted by the colors.

It's the little things that make me smile.

And apparently icy things.

Sky Circles

While driving down the road the other day I, not surprisingly, looked up in the sky

And saw some circles.

Like the circle in the Yet Another Lunar Halo post, these circles are the result of water in the atmosphere, in this case contrails. Contrails of planes likely circling the Philadelphia airport.

This second image shows a pale Sundog, the bright spot in the upper center, to the right of the overexposed Sun. And the bright spot on the contrail circle, below the Sundog, is a fragment of the 22° Halo, the type of halo shown around the Moon.

Icy Bubbler

It has been cold around these parts of late. Rarely getting much above freezing, often in the teens Fahrenheit, and occasionally in the single digits.

And the front bubbler bird bath has frozen completely solid at times.

Well almost completely solid. Seems there is still a bit of liquid water.

And whenever there is then if there is enough sunlight hitting the solar panel, the water flows.

And for some reason, that makes me smile.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Yet Another Lunar Halo

I can't get enough of these things.

And despite the folklore, there were no storms the next day.