Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 83
The big Northeast snowstorm missed us again, going just east of us hitting Warren and Saratoga Counties, with more than three feet of snow as well as the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. My old hometown of Ballston Spa got 37 inches and I can’t ever remember shoveling out that much while I lived there for 21 years. An old friend and neighbor, Bob Miskanin, who married the girl next door and still lives in West Milton, e-mailed me that he got his plow truck stuck just getting out of the garage, so he had to call another plow guy to clear him out.
We got four inches, which was just enough to cover the ground and keep it from freezing because just after that storm passed, the temperature dropped well down in the single digits for four nights in a row. This wasn’t good for the folks who got all the snow; some lost their power as trees came down in the winds from the storm taking down power lines.
Most of the lakes still aren’t safe, as the snow covered the early ice and, even though the temperatures were near zero, it doesn’t make much ice under the snow. It sounds like there is a big rain event coming for Christmas Day which might just wash things out around here, including snow made at McCauley Mountain. At least we don’t have thirty inches of snow that will also get washed away, along with a few other things like culverts and roads when that all goes with this rain event. Then they promise a quick artic freeze which should really ice things up.
There have been a few cross- country skiers out on the trails, which are a little thin for snow, but the golf courses have been a good place to get out and glide along. The Town of Inlet has put in four runs from the top of Hidden Peak, behind Fern Park, all the way back down to the park. You have to walk all the way to the top, but the runs down should be fun, and I may even have to try them out. They are putting out a new map which shows these trails and all the other trails have been color marked with signs put up around the system.
With those zero nights, the lakes did a quick freeze, which caught some of the juvenile Loons off guard, and they were froze in a small hole out in the middle of the lakes they had been living on. First call was from Raquette Lake, where one was trapped just off the village, but that one got out before I even got to see it. Juvenile Loons can fly out of holes in the ice if the wind gets just right. They run out of the holes on top of the ice, into the wind for lift, and just like taking off the water, they get air born and off they go into a new world for them and hope they find open water before they get tired of flying. Most have been up and flown around a few times, but just stuck around because they had never had to leave the lake they were born on. Their parents left them a few weeks ago and forgot to take them along, so they have to find for themselves their first trip to the ocean and open water. If they do make the trip, which most do, they also find out the food supply is much different and even tastes salty. They have the ability to excrete this salt though a gland above their eyes and out their nostrils back into the ocean.
The second call was that a loon was trapped on Third Lake, which just froze that night. That bird tried getting off as observers watched and it finally got into the open water of the channel from Fourth Lake. I don’t know where it went from there, but I got no more calls on this bird. Then this weekend, I got a call that the two chicks that were born behind Alger Island were trapped in a hole in the ice along the south shore of Fourth Lake. I went looking for them in the snowstorm that afternoon, but didn’t find them, so I have to believe they got out of there, as there was a strong west wind blowing.
There were 21 Canada Geese on the ice of Seventh Lake the day that all froze. They walked on the ice from the seaplane base, over the open water by the bridge between Sixth and Seventh Lakes, but that froze over and there they sat, waiting for open water. They must have been hungry, as they left during the middle of the night looking for open water somewhere.
The Old Forge Library celebrated the winter solstice and from now on, the daylight hours will be getting longer each day. They did this on the front lawn of the library, decorated with bows and lights by Jeffery Livingstone and staff. I heard the deer loved the bows, which they could eat right off the lawn. It is too bad; it was cloudy, and they couldn’t see, just after sunset, the planets of Saturn and Jupiter closely aligned in the southwestern sky.
Be care full on the lake ice with all the changing temperatures, but that’s another story. See ya.
Solstice at the Library by Patti Engelbrecht