Out in the Cold

Once again I’ve returned home from work after a lengthy hitch. Very tiring as the deep snow meant I had to finally trade my wheeled ATV for a tracked machine.  The thing is impossible to turn and had me scrambling to unlock the best techniques for maneuvering without blowing out my muscles.  IMG_0248

The tracks add several hundred pounds to the machine so getting into messes like the one above make for interesting times!  Nothing some shovelling and brute force didn’t solve though.

Everywhere, the snow had a thick windcrust that would almost support your weight but not quite, causing you to punch through after a brief second.  Walking even a few meters was difficult in places.  I  encountering deer struggling to make their way and find food in the deep snow.  Many seemed very pathetic and unlikely to survive.  I found it difficult to watch them struggle knowing their hardship wasn’t going to go away at the end of the day like mine was.  I would occasionally buzz into a small herd and many of the weaker ones would not even run away a few meters with the others.  I don’t recall feeling so sad for a wild animal like that before.  In the summer time I find it easier to chalk up animal hardships to just being part of the natural world.  For some reason, also being  affected by the harshness of winter made me quite affected by their suffering.

More enthusiasm for their plight was enjoyed by the cougar I saw in the same location.  I scared him out of a bluff during a snowstorm.  He made a dash across the clearing to another glade of trees.  I clocked him on my machine (running parallel) at 45 km/hr in deep heavy snow that I would have trouble walking through.  Most impressive was how long he looked stretched out as he ran.  I’ve seen a few cougars very briefly before but never for such a long time as this.  The next day when I had a second, I returned and examined his tracks and found he had barely penetrated the snow, his big pads keeping him floating on top of the crust that me and the deer were falling through.IMG_0244

Above:  Suz saw this picture and said it looked like serious business was happening as it was the only explanation for what people were doing in such an awful place under such awful looking conditions.  It’s our field staging area where we leave our equipment and field supplies.  Our tracked machines reminded me of some kind of Star Wars vehicle.IMG_0274

Above: Delorme and Shawn pose for a photo at the end of the day as they pulled up to staging.  Gear, tools, computers and satellite gear are affixed to our machines like old time pack mules.IMG_0251

Above:  I saw this amazing ice halo one day.  The rainbow “U” shape above the sun is a 22 degree upper tangent arc.  The arc on the left side of the sun leading up to the upper tangent arc was something I had never seen and was not a smudge or lens effect.  I sent this picture to the Finnish Ice Halo Network, who reported to me that they had never seen this effect before (the left arc that is) They said it was not an ice halo but  a very unusual cloud effect.  It lasted for about five minutes before disappearing.  For some reason, I was glad when it was gone as I found its singular oddness very off putting!  The upper tangent arc remained and changed colour a bit before also melting after a few more minutes.

Later that same day, I was in some trees as the hoar frost was blowing out of them.  It was like being inside a snowglobe as huge hexagonal crystals were swirling everywhere.  The ground was littered with them like sequins.Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 9.28.04 AM

Even in the camera-phone shot I grabbed, you can see the crystal structure of the massive frost crystals boiling in the swirling wind.

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 7.50.15 PMAbove:  The stark beauty of nothing

Today, Suz and I spent the morning at the upper Banff hot springs soaking it all out.  A welcome reward.  I now have some time to enjoy for myself- likely out in the cold as well.

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3 Responses to Out in the Cold

  1. Those are some pretty mind blowing photos, Dave. Nice work.

    Your fortuitous break time makes me think that there’s a chance that will see you this Sunday. Is that a pipe dream?

  2. Sorry, I’ve got plans for every week till the end of April! Out to Golden BC skiing this week, Ski Mountaineering race next, after that a big multiday backcountry ski mountaineering trip in the Main Range, then California till middle April and hopefully a final big expedition of the winter leading into May.

    • Mike Diakuw says:

      Sad as I feel for myself, I couldn’t be happier for you. It really sounds like you’re living a life I know you were meant to live. Hope you’re a great time and I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures.

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