Saturday, March 23, 2013


Hair Ice
I've been running on trails for a number of years now. And I carry my iphone often on trails to take photos when the mood strikes. After collecting a number of photos, I'm make a PuddleThumper Wall Calendar which is a very nice thing to have at work in my little cube with florescent lighting. It does take a while to collect enough photos for an entire year's spread.

So whenever I run on trails, I'm always on the lookout for interesting shots, interesting features, lighting, foliage, etc. This morning I spotted a feature out on trails that I have only ever seen once before and stopped me in my tracks.

I was running with a new gal and we were chatting and having a fine ol' time on the trails. She's not new to trail running but hasn't been out there in a while and didn't know these trails too well.  I made sure to stop us at various trail intersection and have her map where we were.  hey, it's how I learned!  And I'd mentioned that I'd stop us if i needed to take a photo.

We are running along downhill along Tibbet's marsh Trail on Cougar Mountain. A nice trail which has the distinction for me of everytime i run on it, the sun comes out.  I happened to spot a downed smaller branch which what looked like a white fabric or white paper on it.


Hair Ice or Silk Frost! That's it, That's it!  I've seen it just once before in similar conditions.

Those conditions:
  • Freezing temps
  • No wind
  • Recent wind storms which knock down branches 
Now it was above freezing when we were running through but I'm sure the temps would've have been below (probably not by much) on this protected area on a downhill area overnight. I saw some other bits of silk frost before I stopped that looked a bit melted which i thought were a type of fungus or mushroom. This one was still intact.  

How does this happen?  Frost is deposited on surfaces from moisture in the air. That is not what happens in this case. So Hair Ice is a better term. Moisture within the wood is supercooled and is forced out from exposed wood (the bark of the wood has been compromised) in distinct hairs that stay separate.  Spectacular!

And like usual, the sun came out as we were running down Tibbet's Marsh Trail.  8 easy miles feeling good and ready for a long run on roads tomorrow.  Always take time to stop and look at the Hair Ice if you are lucky enough to spot it.

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