More photos below - decided to just do all the writing first so the photos can be viewed as a slide show.
Well, phew, no thirty inches of snow this weekend (actually I was never too worried, I kept hearing people talking about it but every time I looked at the NOAA page they were just saying "chance of snow" for both days), but still a bit on the briskish side - didn't quite make it up to 30 here in Brooklyn today so I decided to give in to my inner wimp and stay home today. My place needed attention anyways - for some reason it looked like the apartment of a person who'd been sick for three weeks AND frenetically busy at work...oh maybe because I was sick for three weeks and busy at work.
Last weekend was gorgeous, though, and I was just finally getting done with being actively ill. As I'd mentioned a couple of posts ago, I'd been thinking about paddling, but then some pictures of a very icy J-bay taken by someone who'd actually gone for a walk out on the iced-over marshes by Broad Channel had been circulating among my friends at Sebago, and that inspired Steve the Paddling Chef to call for a Saturday hike, nice and close to home, either out on the ice if it was still good or, if it had broken up (the photos had been taken in the middle of a long, deep cold snap which was scheduled to break by Friday) just out and around West Pond at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Sounded just about perfect for my state of recuperation.
And it was. As you can see if you go back a couple of posts, the dock was pretty solidly frozen in; the ice was soft enough that I was able to punch through it with a stake I brought down for the purpose but I found on the hike that I was still not completely recovered - I love walking and I can usually go for miles without any trouble but this time when we took a cocoa break at around 2 miles I was surprised how fatigued I was. Even if I could have found open water for my boat I think getting to it over the ice would have wiped me out. Would've gotten home OK but probably would have gone into round 3 with the cold the next day. Plus we had a very nice group for this, couldn't have asked for more pleasant company.
I've put up my favorite pictures from the day below. I'll describe the route so you can click on the first picture and view the pix in the slide-show view without having to come back for captions (although I'm trying "add captions" for the first time, maybe those will show in the slide show view):
We started at a beach at the northern tip of Broad Channel where local Hindus like to leave offerings (hence Hanuman and Shiva); there's a trail that starts there and leads into the refuge but that was blocked off.
The ice was indeed breaking up and soggy in the warm weather, so we decided to with the West Pond plan and headed over to the education cention at the JBWR. We alarmed the ranger with the ice rescue rope Chris had slung over his shoulder, but we convinced him that we didn't mean to get up to any silly shenanigans and he told us to be careful on the slippery trails but to enjoy.
We did, too, we really enjoyed seeing the Refuge iced in.With the breach caused by Sandy, the path around the pond is no longer a loop trail; one of our hikers was arriving by bike and was a little bit late so we did the short leg to start, which gave him enough time to catch up to us, then we turned around and went all the way around to the other side of the breach. Yes, those are cactus, the sandy shores of J-bay is a friendly place for them.
We took the aforementioned cocoa break there and that was also where we saw the best birds of the day, a pair of hooded mergansers. After that we turned around and went back again, enjoying a fine view of the city in the distance. Full hike was a bit shy of 4 miles, and then we went back to the club for refreshments. Another good day with Sebago.
|First stop - northern tip of Broad Channel Island|
|Hanuman banner at this popular pooja spot|
|Parks have put up signs about leaving things, but it doesn't work too well.|
|On the trail at West Pond|
|Osprey nest - vacant until March, ospreys winter far to the south. Sensible birds.|
End of the trail for this direction.
Our biking hiker catches up. Today's group: Chris, John, Steve, Stevie and Derrick. An excellent set for hiking or paddling!
Looking out at West Pond, far side from the breach.
Ice (no water underneath, just mud here).
Chris and Derrick inspect the ice-glazed mudflats.
Chris sets up for a timed group shot.
|Chris runs to join the photo|
|Canada goose flies above the breach|
|Jamaica Bay, lower Manhattan|
|Post-hike refreshments back at the club. Yes that is the entire leg of a pig on table. More on that one of these days.|
|Old folding kayak parts make the toastiest fires.|