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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

THE SPRING SNOWMAN MIGRATION @ HAMILTON MT.

Sagging rainclouds took a sideways glance at me and pointed wet threatening fingers in my direction but ended up not touching me as I headed up the Hamilton Mt. Trail. In the distance I could see the Bonneville Dam stretched out across the Columbia, and as I gained elevation, this particular fruit of my species’ technology began to take on the semblance of building blocks - a child’s toys cluttering the living room (but never-the-less generating relatively cheap energy).

At about a mile and a quarter in, the trail meanders near a couple of waterfalls. Evidently, ultra eco-sensitivity has resulted in the construction of a nature trail that effectively keeps hikers from touching the water. Either that or trail manufacturers have been forced to build safety barriers geared to the public’s lowest common intelligence denominator. The end result is an ambiance that harkens to comparisons with standing in line at Disneyland.
At Pool of the Winds, the cascading water pours into a carved rock chamber of indeterminate shape, indeterminate because…well there’s a rail in front of it blocking access…


…but also, the volume of water pouring into the enclosed rock chamber (at least on this trip bracketed by rainfall) appears to create a pressure differential that pushes air out with considerable velocity (hence the descriptive name) making it unpleasant to stick your head around the corner (especially if you’re fond of the baseball cap you’re wearing).


Rodney Falls


Rodney Falls again



Walking through the woods on a nice trail, it suddenly struck me just how nice trails are. I noticed the densely packed trees functioning as warp threads for tightly woven ‘filling’ threads of under and over brush.


Without a trail, it would probably take someone capable of bench-pressing 400 pounds to have a chance at breaking a path through the forest.


However tall Hamilton Mt. is turns out to be just about where the viable snow-level was.



On nearby Table Mountain, snow gives the impression that it is retreating upward.



When snow melts and retreats to higher altitudes, there is always a danger that animated snowmen who are not paying attention may be trapped on small mountaintops unable to reach the permanent snowfields of the guardian peaks. Such a fate may have befallen the two snowmen marooned on the basalt outcropping pictured above. I admired how the two snow-people stoically accepted their fate. They seemed to stand in awe before the return of the color green. They stood side by side until the very end, seemingly confident in their belief that all snowmen will one day be resurrected when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.



Click on image for slightly larger version



On rare occasions, it is even now still possible to witness the massive snowman migration that heralds the end of winter in these parts. Note the powder kicked up by thousands of stampeding snowmen.





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