Feather ice

Feather ice detail

Seeing a large ice crystal like this, about an inch long, is fairly rare. Now imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of them:

Feather ice field on Rice Lake

We’re spending a few post-Christmas days at the cottage and awoke to a visual treat on Thursday: Wednesday’s sudden deep freeze and blowing wind gave us a large field of feather ice growing on the lake. The lake began the day on Monday as completely open water; Tuesday brought some long ribbons of ice along the wind lines; by Wednesday only a few open spots were left, and by Thursday morning it was completely frozen over. I don’t know much about the formation of feather ice, but I’m guessing that the low temperatures combined with the wind blowing over the remaining patches of open water on Wednesday picked up enough moisture to cause this field to form near our shoreline. It’s at least a hectare in size.

I would have spent much more time taking pictures, but lying down on a frozen lake while manipulating  an SLR on a tripod at ground level isn’t exactly the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in. Check out the gallery below the fold for a couple of additional pictures I managed to take before my pants froze to the lake.

Read More …

First ride of the year

The open road beckons.

I’ve been so busy this year that I’ve only just made it out for my first recreational ride of the year. It’s the latest start to my riding season since 2002, when I didn’t get going until mid-June. I’m usually on the roads as soon as the snow is gone in February or March, so it’s been a long wait this year. Oh sure, I’ve been commuting and running errands, but there’s nothing like hopping on the saddle not because I have to go somewhere, but just because I want to.

This year’s first ride was, as in most years, a mercifully short introduction to the grind for my winter legs—just 20 km in and around the neighbourhood. What set this year’s inaugural ride apart was that I started from our new cottage on Rice Lake and the deserted country roads started right at my front door. It’s a real joy to be in the middle of nowhere without first having to brave two hours of suburban traffic to get there.

I’ve often poked fun at problems with Toronto’s signs, so it’s only fair to point out that “2nd Line” in Peterborough County is misspelled on this sign at Scriven Road. I’ll also mention that my GPS thinks that 2nd Line is called “Line Road 2.”

An osprey buzzes me when I get too close to its nest.

There are quite a few ospreys around Rice Lake, and this one buzzed me on both occasions when I passed by its roadside nest. It didn’t seem to care about the cars speeding past, but considered a lone cyclist to be a threat. No worries, I’m just taking pictures.

So here are my random observations after my first ride:

  • It’s really hilly. The Rice Lake area is home to a high concentration of drumlins in the Peterborough drumlin field north of the Oak Ridges Moraine, and although the individual hills aren’t all that big, they just come at you one after another after another.
  • The back roads are almost deserted. This could have something to do with the fact that many of them are still unpaved and seem likely to remain so.
  • The farms out here seem both bigger and more traditional than the ones north of Toronto. I hope to share more observations about that in the coming months.
  • In general, the view is your typical southern Ontario rolling countryside, just a little more rolling and a little more country than I’m used to.
  • My cycling goal for the year is a circumnavigation of Rice Lake. The Ganaraska Freewheelers cycling club publishes a suggested route that I’ll probably follow.
  • I’m really looking forward to exploring the area by bike this summer. As soon as I get my legs back into hill-climbing shape, I’ll be able to head out for longer, more adventurous rides.