Despite the cold and ice, I decided to venture down to Roundrock on Saturday to see my woods with a blanket of snow. I didn’t spend as much time there as I had intended — I had originally intended to camp there for the weekend — but I managed to have a nice hike in a snowy forest.
The image above is the topo map of Roundrock that I’ve been messing around with in Photoshop Element, and today’s image is intended to show you where I hiked. Note the crudely drawn green arrows! (I think next time I’ll try laying in some clip art arrows and see how that works. Advice welcome.)
Before I could hike in the woods of Roundrock, however, I had to hike to the woods of Roundrock. As I may have mentioned, my forest is more than two miles from the paved road. The gravel road leading to my entrance is “maintained” by all of the landowners in the area, and it travels down a steep hill, across a wet valley, and then up an even steeper hill before it reaches my woods.
The snow that had fallen last week had had the opportunity to melt and refreeze, so much of the road in was icy. I drove in as far as I dared, but I didn’t attempt driving up the steeper hill. Instead I threw a few things into my pack, shouldered it, and started hiking the rest of the way.
Did I ever mention that we have rocks in the Ozarks? These rocks come in many shapes and sizes (some are round, for example), and the most interesting are the large ones that nonetheless manage to hide themselves in the tall grass. I was having a hard enuf time hiking on the slippery ice, but stumbling over rocks (and sometimes tripping on the tall grass) made for one dandy adventure.
But I made it to my woods! My primary goal for the day was to photograph all of the snowmelt that was coursing down the ravings and pouring into Lake Marguerite, helping fill it so the fishies have a larger playground and Libby and I can swim in the summer. Before that, though, I had a couple of chores.
If I had any power pellets (and I’m not saying I did) I might have placed them beside the road just inside my entrance, still nurturing the thus far-thwarted hope that I might have Black-eyed Susans growing there some day. I definitely did have some peanuts with me, and I intended to leave some here and there so the little forest critters will like me.
But all of this took very little time, and soon my feet were steered past the new camp and down into the ravines that merge and make the Central Valley where Lake Marguerite waits in potentiality.
The temperature was about 34 degrees, so I hoped for a fine melt to add water to the ravines. But the sun was being coy and only made occasional appearances from behind the clouds. The bottom line: the snow was not melting.
There was plenty of evidence that some of the snow had melted in days past, but Pablo was going to be thwarted on this visit. Thus I have no pix of tumbling mini waterfalls for you. Sorry.
I kept hiking down the ravines and into the Central Valley, hoping I might come upon some flow, but it didn’t happen. Still, it was nice to see that the creek had been flowing, and I was hopeful the Lake Marguerite would be at least a little fuller.
You’ll see on the map that I hiked in the lakebed. Obviously, I can’t walk on water, so understand that where I walked when I crossed it is about the perimeter of where the water was. (Actually, in some of the tall grass growing in the lakebed, the water was up to my ankles, so that was nice too. My Goretex boots kept my feet dry! Unexpected, but not unwelcome.)
I crossed the dam and hiked up to the sad shelter site. (Sad because it has been ravaged by the snow that had rested upon it.) Not wearing my watch, I decided that it was lunch time, and, coincidentally, the sun decided to favor me with its presence as I sat in the comfy chair and ate. On the menu for this day were a PBJ, a banana, an orange, some cheese, and iced tea (unsweetened, of course).
Yet I was troubled. There was only a small break in the clouds, and the wind was picking up. I was worried that in the time it would take me to get back to where I had left the truck (in the wet valley), the road I had driven on successfully might become more icy and I might not be able to get back up the hill. I was soaking up the sun’s rays, but the old ray powers were weak in this latitude (unlike, say, in Florida), and I thought I should turn my feet toward the truck for the remainder of my hike. Thus after lunch, it was time to hike out.
As you may know, the long-term plan is to build a retirement cottage overlooking the (full) lake, and one of the significant expenses will be bringing in electricity. So I thought I would hike over to the future home site and then hike out in the area where I think the power line could be brought in. Whether this will be on poles (more likely) or underground (less likely) I can’t say. But I thought that I would probably make an avenue in the trees that could double as a sort of wildlife highway, especially for the quail if I plant the opening properly.
Thus I hiked north-ish from the shelter toward the road, scouting potential power pole placements points, all the while stomping on snow that could be crunchy or slippery without notice.
When I reached our road (the red line on the map) the wind whipping across my neighbor’s field make for some brisk hiking. When I reached the pond, I decided to divert into the woods where we have a trail to the original campsite. This got me out of the wind and on familiar ground. Having built this trail, I know every rock and dip.
Soon I was back at my entrance and then on the common road for the mile hike back to my truck. The temps continued to fall as I stumbled along, so I think my early departure was prudent.
- Eastern moles are active in tunnels deep underground.