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Old 03-03-2021, 06:10 PM   #1
Tick Magnet
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Pinnacle Creek Ice Falls, SMWF, 3 Mar, 2021

It's been a couple of years since I've been to the ice falls on the banks of the Pinnacle Creek in the Shaker Mt. Wild Forest. Today, Tredhed and I started our hike early at the Pinnacle Road trailhead.
1b Register (2).jpg

The trail was in great shape as we headed up the shoulder of Pinnacle Mt. (Note the passing lane).
3c trail (2).jpg

After a mile or so, we left the blue disked trail and bushwhacked up the Pinnacle Creek through some beautiful hemlocks. The bushwhacking conditions were perfect. A little crust on top and a firm 2' base of snow.
1o path (2).jpg

After a few minutes, we came out at the large Vly.
1q Vly (2).jpg

The ice wall was at the north end of the Vly and stretched for about 200 yds.
2d ice (2).jpg
2k ice (2).jpg

The size and scope of the ice formations are very difficult to capture, but are nonetheless impressive.
2j Pat (2).jpg

After checking out the ice, we had to beat feet back to the Mothership to catch my daughter getting out of school. I figure another couple weeks and the snow conditions will make it unsafe to cross the Vly. I'm glad we were able to get out today and enjoy this little gem in the northern corner of Fulton County.
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Old 03-03-2021, 07:33 PM   #2
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Impressive!

I can actually see your pictures for once.
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Old 03-04-2021, 08:27 AM   #3
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Very cool!
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Old 03-04-2021, 11:13 AM   #4
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Nice!
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Old 03-04-2021, 12:07 PM   #5
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Thanks folks! It was a great day to be out in the woods. I really enjoyed breaking out the trail for the last 1/2 mile to the ice wall. I haven't done that in a while and I forgot how much I missed off trail navigation.
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:41 PM   #6
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Those are really neat pictures. What makes the ice wall so long? I had always thought of ice falls like that as something that occurs across stream and river beds and other drainages, but this seems to be a much wider area that is draining and making ice. Is the vly you mentioned at the top and overflowing somehow?
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:48 PM   #7
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ice falls like that as something that occurs across stream and river beds
Those are. Just partially underground. You'll see seeps like that all over the Adirondacks where water drains out from cracks in rocks. The water below probably never freezes, so it trickles out a bit all winter and freezes as it hits the cold air.

I don't know if there are any in the Adirondacks, but you can also have cases of water being "pushed" up from pressure below, so these seeps don't even have to be at the bottom of of a mountain, or low area. In terms of science, we know very little about underground water systems.

This can also happen from surface runoff too but you need a cycle of heating and cooling. It'd be the same as how an icicle forms on the edge of a roof.

Last edited by montcalm; 03-04-2021 at 04:14 PM..
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Old 03-06-2021, 04:59 PM   #8
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Nice pics! I have skied 5 times out of Pinnacle Rd trailhead this winter, most recently to ski bushwhack from County Line Lake to Fisher Vly. Its THE best winter spot less than 55 miles from Albany. Getting back to “winter science” - anyone have any theories why even in this cold, snowy, classic winter, some lakes still have slush on top? We skied Tirrell Pond Feb 13th, the day after a -10F night, it hadnt been above 25 for weeks and yet just below the surface of the 5 inches of snow on top there was an annoying slush that required us to scrape the snow off twice. I am thinking that the weight of the ice creates capillary action pressure forcing micro amounts of water up into the snow cover that does not freeze solid and remains as like a “Permaslush”. I’m sure a low-temperature physicist could answer the question...


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Old 03-07-2021, 10:28 AM   #9
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The Discombobulator setting is still messed up on my computer- just like the pictures I post, I can only see the file name, number of views and size. I hate to spend time at work looking at pics from the Adirondacks (said no one) but I'll give it a try there sometime, I'm curious how long the ice wall is.

I've been looking for a good book about ice as well, one that shows up (but I haven't read) is called, Ice by Mariana Gosnell. There is some interesting info in Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson which is my favorite book ever. The writing is stunningly beautiful, translated from the original French, it is a description of Tesson spending six months on Lake Baikal in Russia. I wish more of his books were available in English as he has taken some amazing adventures and has an equally amazing manner of describing them.

Another book that had some interesting info on ice/snow and all things frozen is It's Raining Frogs and Fishes by Dennis and Wolff.

And not that I can see it, but here is a local gorge pic where we get an impressive ice wall. It wasn't all that thick this year, I think because overall the fall was dry.
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Old 03-07-2021, 03:39 PM   #10
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Getting back to “winter science” - anyone have any theories why even in this cold, snowy, classic winter, some lakes still have slush on top? We skied Tirrell Pond Feb 13th, the day after a -10F night, it hadnt been above 25 for weeks and yet just below the surface of the 5 inches of snow on top there was an annoying slush that required us to scrape the snow off twice. I am thinking that the weight of the ice creates capillary action pressure forcing micro amounts of water up into the snow cover that does not freeze solid and remains as like a “Permaslush”. I’m sure a low-temperature physicist could answer the question...
Snow is a good insulator, and from what I was told once upon a time which seemed to make sense to me is that the water below the ice is above freezing temperature, and as that “heat” vapor escapes upward through the ice it gets trapped under the snow, causing the snow in contact with the ice to melt creating slush. Or something similar to that affect...
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:16 PM   #11
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Snow is a good insulator, and from what I was told once upon a time which seemed to make sense to me is that the water below the ice is above freezing temperature, and as that “heat” vapor escapes upward through the ice it gets trapped under the snow, causing the snow in contact with the ice to melt creating slush. Or something similar to that affect...
Pretty close, I think.

The ice and the water directly underneath, are at the same temperature. Water turns to ice at 0C at standard pressure, but there is a large amount of energy that needs to be removed to change phase.

In terms of heat flow - the liquid water has a large thermal mass (water has a high specific heat) so when the air is colder than 0C (32F), there is heat flow from the water to the air (temperature gradient must exist for heat flow).

The part you both are correct about is the snow trapping heat, or in other words creating a temperature gradient between the air and the top of the ice. Since ice and water can exist at 0C, there is a possibility that heat is being used for a phase change, rather than a change in temperature at the snow/ice interface. And likely the snow is melting - because it is ice crystals, but a much less dense structure than the ice, so the amount of solid converted to liquid is probably pretty minimal. The air pockets in the snow are what causes it to be a good insulator, but it's also not as dense as ice, so that in turn works to make it easier to melt because it has less thermal mass.

The part that I don't think is quite right is the "gas" part. I don't think anything is moving in the system except energy from the hot reservoir (the unfrozen lake - water is most dense at 4C so a gradient exists in the lake itself) to the cold reservoir (the air if it is less than 0C). Second law of thermodynamics. The magic is the just phase change process which happens at constant temperature but still exchanges energy and the fact that snow has a much higher thermal resistance and low thermal mass when compared to solid ice and water.
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:24 AM   #12
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Thanks Montcalm. I tried to dumb it down a bit for the slow folks like myself.
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Old 03-08-2021, 11:07 AM   #13
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I guess there are two important things to understand:

Snow is a great insulator.

Liquid water has a lot of stored thermal energy (as does the ground).


Anecdotally I can recall sleeping in a snow cave at -30F and being a toasty +30F on the inside with only a candle lantern and my heavily insulated body as heat sources.
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:59 PM   #14
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Justin, Here are a few "dumbed down" terms for you that I've heard people use lately:
Thawed water
Un-thawed water
Unfrozen water

Worst feeling ever was an exhausting five-hour hike into Pharaoh Lake in the dark in knee-deep snow that would not support snowshoes but was able to pull them off frequently. Finally got to the lake and the relief of being able to walk on flat, firm snow was short-lived when we got to the middle of the lake and stepped in slush that was deeper than my boots were high.
The temperature plummeted over night and the next day we cut up drifts from around the lean-to and built a massive block wall to escape a steady 20 mph wind.

Then Bernie Sanders showed up. Most memorable camping trip ever. Always wondered how long the wall lasted and if anyone was crushed when it collapsed.
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Old 03-09-2021, 12:56 AM   #15
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Pretty close, I think.

The ice and the water directly underneath, are at the same temperature. Water turns to ice at 0C at standard pressure, but there is a large amount of energy that needs to be removed to change phase.

In terms of heat flow - the liquid water has a large thermal mass (water has a high specific heat) so when the air is colder than 0C (32F), there is heat flow from the water to the air (temperature gradient must exist for heat flow).

The part you both are correct about is the snow trapping heat, or in other words creating a temperature gradient between the air and the top of the ice. Since ice and water can exist at 0C, there is a possibility that heat is being used for a phase change, rather than a change in temperature at the snow/ice interface. And likely the snow is melting - because it is ice crystals, but a much less dense structure than the ice, so the amount of solid converted to liquid is probably pretty minimal. The air pockets in the snow are what causes it to be a good insulator, but it's also not as dense as ice, so that in turn works to make it easier to melt because it has less thermal mass.

The part that I don't think is quite right is the "gas" part. I don't think anything is moving in the system except energy from the hot reservoir (the unfrozen lake - water is most dense at 4C so a gradient exists in the lake itself) to the cold reservoir (the air if it is less than 0C). Second law of thermodynamics. The magic is the just phase change process which happens at constant temperature but still exchanges energy and the fact that snow has a much higher thermal resistance and low thermal mass when compared to solid ice and water.
Yes, thanks Montcalm - as it has been about 43 years since I passed Thermo at Clarkson College (pre-University), I refreshed a bit in the laws and found that "The Second Law also predicts the end of the universe, according to Boston University. It implies that the universe will end in a ‘heat death’ in which everything is at the same temperature. This is the ultimate level of disorder; if everything is at the same temperature, no work can be done, and all the energy will end up as the random motion of atoms and molecules.”

In terms of a snow-covered frozen Adirondack lake, the conversion of the surface to slush is indeed the ultimate level of disorder.
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:23 AM   #16
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Thermodynamics was a pretty life changing learning experience for me. I also threw in a little heat transfer needed to understand - but really that's more looking at the processes of conduction, convection and radiation rather than energy flow and phase changes (which is classic TD).

3 Laws that help you understand a lot of things:

Conservation of Mass
Conservation of Energy (First Law of Thermodynamics)
Entropy (Second Law of Thermodynamics)

and if you want to get weird, you apply those principles to charges on circuits:

Kirchhoff's Current Law (conservation of charge and energy)
Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (conservation of energy)

and the odd one:

Ohm's Law

And then you know 90% of electrical circuits.
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Old 03-09-2021, 12:01 PM   #17
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My ears are bleeding.
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Old 03-09-2021, 08:48 PM   #18
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My ears are bleeding.
Probably...











That's how I like to play electricity.

Sorry - this thread was already way derailed, I couldn't resist...
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