Weekly Photo Challenge: New

The theme for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is:  New.
Our photo instructions are to “show us something new-to-you for 2015.”

I can do that.

On New Year’s Day, we took a hike to Lewis Falls in the Shenandoah National Park.  We’d hiked in SNP a few days earlier,  taking advantage of an unusually warm December day.  The kids had so much fun, they asked to hike again.  Wait.  Teenagers asking to get away from their electronic tethers?!?  We’re out the door!  However, winter decided to return on New Year’s Day.  It wasn’t Canada cold, but it was cold.  But that’s what hats (tuques) are for, right?

SNP describes the Lewis Falls trail as a 3.3 mile circuit, moderate with steep, rocky areas and one stream crossing.  Rocky areas should read: all rocks, all the time.  But not to worry.  The Lewis Falls Trail was perfect to break in my new hiking boots.  Hiking boots are miracles for feet.  If you’ve ever hiked a rocky trail in running shoes you know what I mean — you feel every single rock through running shoes.  In hiking shoes, you can hike on razor blades and not feel a thing. Aaahhh.  Unfortunately, hiking boots won’t make your legs any less tired after trekking across steep rocks for 2.5 hours.  That’s what Vitamin M (Motrin) is for.

On our way down to Lewis Falls, we kept passing these unusual ice formations on the ground. They were all new to me — I’d never seen anything like them before.  The ice was growing up and out of the ground.  I was completely fascinated.  I did some research once we got home (and warmed up again).  The formations are called Needle Ice.  Without getting too sciency, it’s something that occurs when the ground temperature (and any water in the ground) is above freezing, but the air temperature is below freezing.  The moisture in the ground gets pulled upwards through capillary action and freezes (and builds on itself) when it hits the air.  The result looks like tiny ice crystal seedlings growing out of the ground.

I especially love the little needle that single-handedly pushed a tiny boulder out of the ground (at about 10 o’clock in this photo):

DSC_2952-1We were racing the sunset on our hike, so that meant no lolly-gagging to take pictures.  A bit of a disappointment, but I was on board with the speed hike.  Because as much I enjoy hiking, I do not enjoy hiking in the dark (nothing good happens in the forest after dark).  And I especially don’t like hiking in the dark when it’s below freezing outside.  We passed a group of 20-somethings (who were still celebrating the New Year) on their way down to the falls as we were coming up.  We gave them a casual, “you’re gonna run out of heat-tab-in-the-sky pretty quick” comment, but they didn’t seem too concerned.  We have a name for that kind of hike: Operation Dumbass.  But I guess you have to learn these lessons for yourself.

Here are a couple other views of the needle ice that I speed-snapped on our way out of the falls:



And just so I can make this post at least tangentially related to wine . . .

Once we got back to our car, I kicked myself for forgetting (once again) the Radlers (the Bavarian version of a sports drink — an extremely refreshing, low-alcohol drink made with beer and limonada).  Water is a boring après-hike beverage.  So I had to wait until we got home from our somewhat frozen sunset hike for my treat:


This cozy Syrah (Nuts & Bolts 2012) is from one of my favorite winemakers on the planet, Herman Story.  And it’s the perfect antidote for a winter chill.

Happy New Year & Salud!


  1. Sounds like a nice hike! Jon and I see hikers like that all the time – heading out way to close to dark. I guess they figure it will be fine, and I’m sure it usually is, but… Love the photos!


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