Friday's Walk in the Woods 2/24/17

Winter continues on the West Coast, in Nevada City.  Here it is, February a few days shy of being finished and us awaiting the crack of March, and bad weather continues to dominate the scene.  Even on a day of sunshine, we see the consequences right in front of us or by way of pictures and another weather-related calamity in the newspaper.  In short, NorCal is saturated.  And we need to dry out.  Not forever, mind you, I'm not hoping for more drought, just a week or two or three of no precipitation.

I can tell you how much precip has fallen on Northern California this winter:  So much that this is the snowiest winter the Tahoe area has seen in 22 years.  So much that Squaw Valley in the Sierras expects to be open for skiing July 4th.  Squaw Valley has recorded 565 inches of snow this season (so far, and winter isn't done with us).  Okay, I did the math ... 565 inches equals an incredible 47 feet of snow -- wowzers!  So much that Sacramento's rainfall has surpassed that of traditional rainy meccas such as Seattle and Portland OR.  So much that as of today, Nevada City's total precip stands at over 71 inches, most of it this year ... less than two months!  These are real, not alternative, facts!!

Snow qualifies as precipitation, of course.

With so many gray days, a person could go stir-crazy or catch cabin-fever, like the flu, stuck indoors waiting for the sun to show its face.  Jimmy and I like to be Out and About, but walking or hiking in cold wet weather isn't our cuppa tea.  We do get out, but we wait for a shiny day to really enjoy a quiet walk in the woods.  Friday was our day.

We've walked the canal path under all kinds of conditions ... hot or chilly, spring and fall, blanketed with crispy leaves or glazed with pollen, but we've never been on the trail with it covered in snow (and some icy patches).  Only an inch or two (from the past couple of days), but it made for some interesting footwork!

Overnight was cold ... a frigid 28 degrees.  An Iowa kind of temperature.  I should know ... I spent a winter in Cedar Falls, Iowa one year, long ago, and just about froze my tush off. But, no rain was in today's forecast, no snow either, and the sun was Up, beckoning us outside.  We waited till the temp rocketed up to 37 before donning long johns under our jeans, plus sweatshirts, jackets and gloves, and then we hit the upper trail.  Six miles. 

We've seen this small pond dry up, but it's full and overflowing this winter.

Above and below.  We saw five or ten new never-seen-before runnels
 leaching from the slopes, straight into the canal. 

Occasionally the sun would hide behind a cloud, and it's amazing how much colder we felt. Even if the sun wasn't truly providing much warmth at this latitude in February, the thought of it brought a warm feeling.  In a clearing, we paused and raised our faces to the sun, sopping up our friend, Vitamin D.

I didn't stick my pinky in the water, but I'm reasonably sure it's COLD.
Labs don't care!

Maybe other trail-walkers have seen water cascading from the hillsides,
but in almost-five years, we have not.

Part of an old flume flows beneath the canal here,
and this is the first time I've ever seen water exploding from the flume.

I wore my waterproof Ahnu shoes to hike in snow; Jimmy wore his waterproof hikers, also.  With every footstep, our shoes made a crunching sound as we trampled the snow.  It would be tough for us to be stealth!  Jimmy is hard to see above, in such a monochromatic landscape.

Sweet man!

Where sun could reach the path to melt snow and ice, we encountered puddles, mud, and a general sloppy mess.  Several spots had shallow running water spilling across the path.  We found ways around or walked through each, and didn't end up with goopy shoes.  Water (above) runs below a thin layer of ice and trapped air bubbles.

This is an all-purpose trail, much of it accessible, for walkers, joggers (saw one today jogging in shorts!), and bikers.  Other than the lone jogger, we saw less than a handful of people out with their dogs.  Some creative person found a heart-shaped rock, took an old bike chain and arrayed them atop a stump next to the trail.  Others have strategically placed small rocks.  Kind of cute.

Above, this is part of an access road between the upper and lower trail sections, but you'd need more than waterproof shoes to get across; boots would be the ticket.  Below, overflow water from that small pond (fourth pic from the top) surges downhill, and onto the road in the photo directly above.

We were weary after our six miles -- not used to specialized snow walking, I guess.  Our legs felt tired and my feet were sore, although as soon as I took off my shoes, my feet were fine.  We had water with us, but forgot to take granola bars, so we were hungry when we got home after 2pm.  I checked the temp -- the durned mercury never got above 40 degrees, and it only stayed at 40 for a minute before retreating into the 30's.  Our friend, Sue, says February lasts three months.  I'm thinking she's close, but no cigar -- February really lasts four months, maybe even five.  Good thing all those months are nearly gone.


  1. We used to love walking in the snow-not so much now!
    I'm glad that the drought has broken but it sure has caused a lot of problems!

  2. Oh my. The photos are lovely, and kudos for getting out in that stuff. I despise walking when it is icy. Would rather x country ski through soft snow, cold icy walking no thanks. Although I haven't done either yet this winter and probably won't. Walked to the mailbox last week, slid on ice and road gravel, scratched my new glasses when I face planted into the mess, skinned up a few things, embedded gravel in a few places. Nope. Walking in that stuff is done for me. Again, kudos for getting out there. I think my FitBit is probably long dead.

    1. Oh gosh, sorry to hear about the face plant, hope you've healed by now. We were walking in snow, not ice ... don't intend to ever walk on ice ... and the trail is packed dirt, not gravel. Much easier on the old bones! Hope you enjoyed the post, and how about those stats?

  3. Wow, Nickie! You are what I call a hearty woman! That would have been too much for me at any age! Beautiful photos. Incredible the way you captured the different forms of "precipitation." And sweet Jim, with the initials.

  4. Gotta love a winter walk in the woods! Had plenty of them as a youth in Niagara Falls.....


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