An Ice K
Wonders from our heavenly father! This ice formation is absolutely unique. It was hanging in a rock house in the shade. Near the end of a perfect weekend hike with my good friend Michael, we came across this piece of serendipity. It did not surprise me to remember that Michael's last name begins with K!
In the middle of the packing up process, I am caught smiling. Hammock campers are always smiling! As I looked at my smile in this photo, I realize the hammock repeats the smile. It is like I am sitting on the hammock god's tongue and he is enjoying the joke! The F2 pack is lined with a thick garbage bag and then the foam pad is roll inside it like a barrel. From left to right, the small bags contain my Ursack food bag, cook kit, ditty bag, tarp, rain gear (purple), quilt, and under the pack is the extra clothes bag. They are easily packed inside the pack in a few moments.
On the early morning of the 13th of March, it got down to 16 degrees in Chillicothe, in a valley 20 miles away. Up on this exposed ridgeline the wind was about 10 mph and the night was cold.
After a half hour of hiking the Ohio hills, we had removed the outer layer and were enjoying the sunlight. The woods were very quiet. Without the leaves of summer, I could see across valleys and peer into the small caves under the exposed cap rock along the valley.
This large White Oak had fallen, taking a piece of the forest canopy with it. We were nice and warm by the time we reached this spot and took a few minutes to cool our jets. The state-supplied water supply at the campground had run dry. We stopped and filled our water containers at a small creek and treated the water with iodine. Zaleski is a small forest, and it is hard to know what houses might be around the bend just out of sight. The morning air was still quite cold! Michael's Nalgene bottle had a slurry of ice water swirling around at each step. I needed to burp my Platypus drinking tube and occasionally put it into my coat to keep the water from freezing in the tube.
The trail is generally easy to follow, marked with many bright orange blazes. The forest was mostly a mixed blend of white and red oaks, hickory trees, and occasional pines and hemlocks. For most of the day, the path was frozen hard. Only near the end of the day did the path become a little muddy as the ground warmed in the bright sun light.
Though the edges of the creeks were frozen with a crust of white ice, the sound of the creek water tumbling over small stones was often heard. We wondered what the last portion of the hike, through a deep ravine and including many stream crossings would be like on a spring day with intermittent rain showers. To have this little gurgle swell into a loud torrent would be spectacular.
I was doing some testing of waterproof Sealskinz socks. Here I am doing one of the many crossings of a stream on the North loop of the backpacking trail. The water was ice cold, but my feet stayed dry and warm. It is possible to wear sandals in the winter! It can even be warm.
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