Sunday 27 January 2013. McCullough Creek, Farther Downstream: Revising the Mental Map

The plan this morning was to ride to Meadowbrook, park Blue, and explore farther downstream than last time around McCullough Creek.

The temperature was 25 degrees F with a breeze that felt like it came mostly from the southeast. The sky was cloudy, but not enough to preclude a quite pink sunrise.  The full moon was not visible, however, nor did the disc of sun ever come into view.

Pink and Blue Sunrise 27 Jan 13

Parked Blue at the playground rack  and started at the Windsor/Vine bridge.

Right at the bridge, McCullough Creek ran without ice, but farther downstream, ice covered much of its surface.

Walked on the grassy area a little way away from the creek for a while before going in to the stream bank.

In several places the ice had cracked or broken into pieces and refrozen.

Broken Ice Refrozen

The beaver-chewed parts of the stream-side alders were not as bright orange as they were last week or the week before.  Looked like the beavers hadn’t done any more chewing since last time.  Noticed also that the alders didn’t go as far downstream as I’d assumed.

Less-Flaming Chew Marks
My walk farther downstream revealed, contrary to what I’d speculated in an earlier post, that the main beaver dam was quite intact.

Main Dam and Drain

Well, it can take a while, and some correction, (especially for some of us) to get the exact configuration of features pictured in one’s mind.  During the growing season there’s so much going on with the prairie plants that there isn’t much time to investigate the stream in any detail.  Also, when there is foliage all around it’s harder to get to the bank or even see much of the stream.  Now in winter so much more is visible. (Still think there had been one or two smaller dams, farther upstream, that were now dismantled.)  Farther downstream were a couple of additional smaller dams, as well as beaver-piled mounds of sticks on the bank to one side.

Small Dam, Ice, Waterfall, Beaver Bridge, and Stick Pile

Noticed a curious set of frozen tracks going from the bank to the middle of the stream.  At its end at right angles on either side was a

Frozen Evidence-What Happened?

small bunch of short, straight lines (bird wing “tracks ?”)  Another set of tracks from a refrozen break in the ice a little way upstream ended at the same spot.  Must have been some kind of interaction; not sure what.

Hands got really cold (!) after removing gloves/mittens for photos, but then warmed quickly once they were replaced into glove/mitten protection.

Saw a tree at the very edge of the stream, with large proportion of its roots exposed.  How long before it would fall over?

Tree Hanging Over the Edge

Noticed quite a few standing dead trees with woodpecker holes.  So that’s where they live.

Downstream Limit 27 Jan 13

Turned back before I got to the rabbit bridge: that adventure would have to wait for another day.

Took the (more direct) path away from the stream on the way back to Blue.  Saw a tiny dead shrew, I believe it was, on the path.  Its frosty grey fur was amazingly dense and its feet and the underside of its snout were an eye-catching bright pink; its smooth tail was a slightly more subdued shade of pink.

Saw no one on my walk by the stream in the morning cold and really enjoyed the sensation, however enhanced by imagination, of being in a remote, wild, quiet, sacred place.

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About Velo du Jour

I am a 61 year old mom/wife, former biologist, and presently certified Iyengar yoga teacher, and I love, besides biking (and other things), nature, swimming, drawing, photography, yarn, exploring adoption themes, and putting people at ease. In April 2012, I participated in "30 Days of Biking "http://30daysofbiking.com/ on Twitter, sponsored by a group of "joyful cyclists" in Minneapolis during the month of April. I loved tweeting about each day's ride so much I didn't want to stop! "Velo du Jour" is a continuation of recording and sharing my rides post-30 Days of Biking.
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