The Day Winter Began

December 14, 2010

I am all  comfy and warm sitting at my desk, but just two days ago we received our first snowfall.  Most of the Midwest was smashed by a frigid Arctic front that plummeted the windchill to zero degrees and below.

Inventory Time

I rounded up all of my winter clothes and took an inventory of what I would need.  I started out with a compression top and bottom and then proceeded to put on not one, not two, but three pair of breathable pants, with the top two being windproof.  I would need that.  For the top I did the same routine, I had three breathable tops and then added a fourth windproof jacket.  The feet, which to me get the coldest, I added two pair of heavy hiking socks.  For the head I put on a nylon face mask, and a sock cap.  I put on my hiking shoes with a pair of grippy crampons and heavy pair of gloves for the hands.  I could move easily because the layers were all regular sizes and not bulky. I was ready.

I opened the door and the cold bit my face.  The wind was definitely an issue, but I had chosen wisely on my selection of clothes, because I was warm and toasty and would remain so for the rest of my time outside.

Why?

The roads were bad.  Snow hid a layer of thin ice that clung to the road in sections.  I put my truck in to 4WD and took my time getting a feel of the road conditions.  Around five miles into my drive I saw a 2WD truck spin all the way up a steep secondary road.  My nerves were shaken a little, but as I went up my 4 x 4 clung tightly to the surface.

My reason for being out on what some would consider a miserable day was to photograph and film icefalls that may have formed after Saturday’s rain.  Some may think that I was crazy to be out on a day like this, but I have always loved the dramatic change in seasons.  I was not out to hurt myself, I was taking a calculated risk on seeing nature on its own terms.

Exploring a Winter Wonderland

I worked my way down to Bork’s Falls and noticed that the water was not flowing like I thought it would be.  It was still too early for the giant icefalls, that would come after a longer cold spell.  I took time to film the fluffy snow that accumulated on the rocks below the falls and watched as winds whipped up clouds of white.

I decided to head to the main side of the park.  After releasing last weeks blog on the end of fall, I thought it would be nice to have a video showing the first snow of season.  I positioned myself as close as possible to what I could remember from the video of the “raining leaves”.

Snow was blowing directly at the camera making it difficult to keep the lens clean.  On the camera I had placed a water-resistant housing bag.  Perfect snowflakes were landing on cover.  This was the first time I could remember seeing snowflakes that looked like real snowflakes.  Very Cool!  Later as I edited the video I noticed sounds that resembled rustling of clothes, but I had not been moving as I recorded.  It dawned on me this was the sound of snowflakes on the housing.

As I made my way home the road crews had greatly improved the still slick roads.  I was glad to have been out experiencing the first snow of the season.

Special Note

I have hiked during many adverse weather conditions and I absolutely do not recommend that you go to any place where you are not familiar with the conditions, even with knowledge there is always unknown risks.  Know your limitations and don’t take unnecessary risks that put your life in jeopardy.  I was  prepared to survive on my own and took all the essentials to survive.

Video

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Disclaimer

The author and Shawnee Hills Outdoors disclaim any liability or loss incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application on any information contained in this blog. Although this post talks and shows video of a person hiking alone, it is the best policy to always have a hiking partner. If you do attempt to explore any of these areas make sure you are have the proper knowledge to survive in the woods, do not rely on a cellphone for help. Please check ranger stations and park superintendents for latest information regarding these areas. This website is for entertainment only.

About Gary Marks

Explore - Photograph - Live. Three words that describe my love of nature. These photos and articles are my small attempt to bring to others the great "undiscovered" beauty of Southern Illinois and beyond. It is my hope that you will view this website and leave with a better understanding of the area and will motivate you to get outside where ever you live and explore your own backyard.