Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ice is Nice!

We've had some extended cold snaps over the winter which have given us some nice ice and frost formations.

Jen and I snowshoed over to the townsite to check on things while our neighbors were away on a trip to Sitka.

There had been a long cold snap and the hoar frost formations were everywhere!

The frost even formed on the needles in this hemlock tree.

Xtra-tuff prints in hoar frost.

Frost on the handrail.

Robert's skiff was getting pretty low in the water.  I tried to end for end it, but the docklines were frozen to the cleats.  I had to use a maul to get through the ice so I could bail the boat out, but it turned out there was no liquid water left in the boat!

This photo was taken just after the winter solstice when the sun only came over the mountains for a few minutes a day.  This was as high as the sun rose, as Alaska Airlines flew over.

We have a lot more sun now and are gaining four minutes a day! 

We make candle holders by freezing ice in 5-gallon buckets.

We usually leave a portion of the deck where we don't clear the snow.  We call this our "Village White."
The deck can get a little slippery when it's this icy.

You can get going really fast!!!

The dock can get pretty slick as well!

The ice coming out of the hydro shed can make some pretty interesting ice sculptures.  Even Feral is impressed (or maybe not).

Running Water and Hydro Power are over-rated!

Every winter there comes a time during an extended cold snap with temperatures down into the teens and strong northerly winds, that our domestic water line freezes and we lose running water to the house; or our hydro intake gets blocked by ice and we lose our hydro-electric power.  Or both.  And it usually happens around 1 AM, although not always, thankfully.

Looking down the hydro line from the dam--things do get a little icy in the winter!

Getting ready to check the intake.

Ice forming around the dam, waterline, and supporting cables.

This is what the hydro intake is supposed to look like--the holes are clear and plenty of water enters the pipe.

This is what the intake looks like when super-cooled water hits it.  The ice forms under the surface of the water on the intake grate itself, blocking the intake holes.   To fix it I have to hike up the mountain to the intake to clear the ice with a long bar.
Clearing ice off the intake with a six-foot steel bar.

Once the ice is chipped off the intake, it has to be moved away from the grate, as the suction will suck it back on if you don't remove it from the area.

Here's our intake pool.  Note that the pool does ice over and that the level dropped about a foot since the last time it froze.

The intake pool with lots of water over the grate.
In cold weather, we leave water running in all the taps in an attempt to keep the waterline from freezing.  In the lodge we sometimes get a warning of an impending frozen water line when the water slows to a trickle.  When this happens, we grab buckets and pots and pans and fill them with water at all three faucets in the house, hopefully to last us until the water starts running again. If we need to, we can go to the stream or the hydro exhaust to fill more buckets. Jen prefers Method One. 

Water inventory stacked everywhere!
It's handy to have some buckets of water stored in the bathroom as well.

It's also nice in case someone needs a drink--nothin' tastes better than water fresh out of a bucket!

Once the intake is cleared, the pipe fills, the pelton wheel turns the generator, power comes on, and this old wooden waterline carries the water out of the hydro shed.

Outside, the hydro shed turns into an ice sculpture park.

Kayaking in the bay

The other day, we had a nice clear day (we can't say "sunny" since the sun was behind the mountains) with mirror calm water, so we decided to take the kayaks out for a little paddle.

Otter tracks in the fresh snow on the dock.

Did I mention that the water was "mirror calm"?

Paddling around Manleyville--site of an almost town with a good premotor that is on most of the maps here in Alaska, even though there was only one cabin ever build here by Fred Manley.

More paddling around Manleyville.

There was some skim ice around we had to paddle through.

Getting ready to paddle home.