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I spent part of yesterday with a high school senior who is interested in pursuing photography. Kayla already has a good eye for composition and color and hopes to go to college to learn more. She particularly likes nature photography so we started out walking to the park near the confluence of the Twisp and Methow Rivers. The weather has been dreary and gray and the ice around Twisp is treacherous for walking. Along the rivers, there is much less ice than in other years. Kayla has explored this area for years and she said normally there is enough ice to walk across the Twisp River. Every year is different and I expect these are the kinds of changes we need to get used to.

You can see more photos of Kayla here at my Reflected Light Images blog.

Temperatures have been cold for the last week or so with lows in the single digits. Brrr. Ice is forming on the lakes and ponds but most of it is too thin for walking. We did find a shallow area of a pond that seemed safe. The bubbles in the ice were fascinating. I wonder if they are from the decomposing wood in the water below? We could see them in the middle of the ice and also where it looked like they were at the bottom surface of the ice. We guessed that it was about three inches thick. Farther out in the deeper area, it looked cracked and we avoided it. Some folks have said they could see fish and turtles under the ice but we had no such luck.

Last week the dogs and I managed one last trip to the mountains before the deep freeze settled in. I’d intended to just walk in the hills as usual but after many days of wet dreary weather I awoke to a glorious bluebird day with snow-capped mountains on the horizon and I could not resist one last chance to be up there before winter really arrives.

I knew it would be cold and we’d be walking on snow and ice-covered surfaces and in the shade much of the time so picking out clothes after the long warm (for November) spell was challenging. It was 29 degrees Fahrenheit at the Blue Lake trailhead – the coldest temperature I’ve seen in months. Brrrr. I must have picked out the right combination of layers because I kept comfortably warm moving briskly on the trail and only stopping in sunny spots.

The log footbridge at the lake’s outlet was snow-covered and I didn’t have the nerve to try crossing it. Heck, that thing scares me in summer. The dogs happily ran back and forth while I dithered about it. The sun had barely crept across the mountain ridge behind the lake leaving the lake mostly in the shade. We enjoyed the sunshine and met two other hikers with a pretty dog before heading down the trail and saying goodbye to the mountains for now.

I had told MA that we needed a dock to see if Sky would ‘dock dive’. It seems a bit lofty to think of an eight month old puppy being ready to take on the big world of dock diving but her enthusiasm for swimming seems to be boundless. MA said she knew where there was a dock but the lake might still be frozen. She likes to go there before spring really arrives and other folks are fishing up there. So we loaded the dogs and headed into the mountains. Sure enough, we hit snow on a shady part and I fretted about going through it without snow tires but when I saw how much farther we had to go, I bucked up and drove my subaru through it without any problem. There was some snow that was pretty soft and squishy but we got through that too. Finally made it to the top and then had a reasonably short walk to the lake. Most of it was still ice-covered but not around the dock. And sure enough, Sky was happy to jump off the dock and swim for a stick or the tennis ball that she found in the campground. Luna was happy to watch. Frida jumped a couple of times too. After a while the dogs and I went for a walk and left MA to her fishing and when she was done with her worms, she had five nice trout for supper! On the way home, we saw a Dusky Grouse and he must have seen something he liked about us or my car because he soon puffed up in all of his courtship finery.

These images are from last Thursday, the same day I photographed the bees. It was a very warm February day with the temperature approaching fifty degrees. Today it is near freezing and snow has been falling for hours. In the last week or so we’ve had nearly two feet of new snow but combined with warm afternoons, it is compressed and heavy with ice in the places exposed by the snow plow and shovels and in the trails that are heavily trod upon.

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