Wet Cow Ride

Kerr Creek IceWe started out downtown about 11am, went due east along 7th St. to the Easgate path, then over to 46 for the short and not too stressful highway ride to Kerr Creek. The hill was wet and all sand, so we held the brakes the whole way down. In town there was snow only where it had been scrapped together in piles. Kerr Creek runs west to east, and so the valley to the right is all north facing, and was coverd with ice and snow, while the left (south-facing) side was all clean of snow. We took Kerr Creek to the end, it was quite icey in spots as it hugs the cold ridge, and then headed north at the intersection with Getty’s Creek.

We turned right on Mt. Gilead, and rode through the valley and up the hill. Somewhere near Birdie Galyan we ran into these youngsters on the road. They came to the gate and wanted to be let in, but I could not get it open fast enough for them, they spooked and ran to through the backyard of the house and went over the fence where they apparantly got out.
Road CowsLet us in!
We rode on to Highway 46, rode over to Tunnel Rd, then left on Robinson. Just before the winery, we turned on Nerht, a relatively new road. It runs down to Lentz, which comes off the ridge onto John Young Road. We headed left and stopped by to visit Alan at his home on the edge of the woods. He has quite a few feathered friends!
Let us in!

As we came back down John Young, we thought of trying Boltinghouse Hill, but it was covered in sand, no way we would make it. As we continued on to Old 37 we passed the Vectron station, it was quite amazing to see a gas plume in this rural valley.

Vectron Flame

We started to feel a little rain just after climbing firehouse hill on Old 37. But we figured it was fine, as just at that time we passed a large group in racing bike gear heading out north. A heartier bunch than us, that’s for sure. So though it rained a bit on the way back, and we got wet, not soaked, and made it home fine.

Miles ~25
Weather: Overcast, 40 degrees, fine for riding.
Wildlife: Lots of buzzards, in groups and singles. One family of deer, with one really young fawn. Lots of cadinals, titmice and rufous towhees at Alan’s.

More Frozen Monroe!

Wanting to spend the most time possible on the ice this weekend, we drove to Cutright, and about 1:30 pm headed east onto the lake. We explored Saddle Creek, riding up the frozen creek bed, an easy highway in the woods, until we got to a spot where the creek was running free. came back out and headed out and around the point and south and then east again towards Axsom Branch. We stopped and had a snack while looking at the ice covered trees shining in the sun just over the ridge to the south. We followed the ice all the way back into where Salt Creek heads off to Story, rode a ways into the woods, and then started the long ride back. We rode against the wind and into the sunset with an increasing number of large patches of ice, but no falls occurred (at this time). Here is my Picasa album of the trip Distance: 15 mi Time: 4.5 hours on the iceTemp: 20 degreesWildlife: one frozen birdCaves explored: 1

Jojo sprints aheadThe LakeJojo passes some dark ice

Looking east from Cutright, here is Jojo leading. You can see how the ice is patchy, with crunchy ice/snow (good for traction) on much of the lake, but with with many patches of clear ice in numerous shapes and all sizes. Different parts of the lake had different surfaces due to variations in wind, rain, and snow. Did I mention the sound of ice cracking as it is forming? It is like not the sound of breaking through ice that we all fear, but a very resonant pinging, as if the ice were a drum skin, and you can both feel and hear the sound.

The lake againLake ViewEnd of the line, free flowing water

We crossed the white expanses, awed by the scenic views, then cut south into one of the side valleys to do some exploring. We found where the stream came into the lake, and we followed it upstream, a wide flat roadway into the forest. We came to where the stream split, and we found running water at the surface; there were numerous bird and mammal tracks as well as ice that had stayed high as the water level dropped.

Animal TracksThick IceWhat’s that up the ridge?

As we rode back out to the main body of the lake, I noticed a “feature” on the nearby ridge, there was a bluff and at it’s head a cave! We climbed up and across the icey path to the cave’s mouth, which had a frozen floor and ice stalagtites.

It’s a cave!Just climb up this icey pathWow, icicles!

We followed the frozen stream bed into the cave, we could hear running water. About 100 feet into the cave, there was a 90 degree turn to the right. There was an area of clay in the corner where you could stay high and dry while the stream flowed just a few feet away. Though we could stand at the corner, around the turn the cave got much smaller, about 3 feet high, and was very dark.

Relative sizeInto the CaveAnd even deeper

Our trusty steeds waited below, and we walked back down and hit the open road once again. We passed our only wildlife sighting of the day, a bird with a hawk like beak, frozen in the ice.

Our rides wait for usFrozen BirdRidge line

We passed rootcicles and found a spot to take a brief rest to eat some lunch. We sat on the cushions we had carried with us, pulled out our thermoses, ate lunch and gazed at the ridge to the south, with ice covered trees shining in the sun.

RootcicleWest RidgeLast Stop

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died and I did not get any more pictures as we drove to the end of the ice where Salt Creek heads off to Story. We rode straight back, I rode wide to the other side and got caught on a larger patch of clear ice and went down. I pedaled back to Jojo, we visited a major crack where the Pine Grove branch of the lake comes into the main body and listened to the ice growling. We were riding against the wind, and the ice seemed to on forever, with wide swatches of slick dark ice to navigate. We rode on into the sunset over the ridge, found the the truck, and rode home.

Frozen Lake Monroe

Here are some pictures of our ride on February 10, 2007. We rode south to Rhorer, then to Stipp, and down to the lake. We started onto the lake at the Moore’s Creek Ramp, rode across the lake to Paynetown Ramp, then up to 446 and home.

Distance=~25 miles (Odometer is still frozen)
Time: 3.5 Hours (we did a lot of site-seeing.)
Weather: Brilliant clear, 15 degrees average
Wildlife sightings: 1 blue heron, flying right over our heads. One eagle in the distance flying over Moore’s Creek, one mature bald eagle flying near us at Payntown ramp. Two black labs and one Bill on the lake.

We learn about ice

We started out from the Moore’s Creek
Ramp. Once we got on the ice (which had an inch or two of snow on top), it was truly amazing. The only sound was the tires moving through the snow. Here is a shot looking back towards Moore’s Creek.

Leaveing Moore’s Creek Ramp

The we ran into this ice path in the lake. We thought maybe it was the channel and the ice was thinner here, but later we saw these ice paths were all over the lake, so they could not be channels. The ice looked thick enough, so I went across, and as I did my wheel sunk into the mushy ice, but I kept going and got across to the snow.
Ice path
Here is Jojo back on the other side of the slush, questioning my sanity.

Jojo looks at the slushy ice

Here I am riding on the snow, no problem mon!

Mitch Riding on the snow

Jojo riding on the snow-Video link

Jojo on the lakeMitch on Ice

So as we were riding away from Moore’s Creek towards the main part of the lake, we saw in the distance a small red dot, which quickly grew in size. I barely had time to whip out my camera to get shot of Bill and his two black labs, ice skiing at lickety-split towards us. He said “What the hell are you doing out here?” and he thought we were strange (we are.)
Bill and his dogs ski in from the south
It seems he is the sole practitioner of ice skiing on Lake Monroe. Using his cross country skis, he just sharpened his pole ends to grab the ice. He knowledge of the ice dispelled our fears of the long ice paths, especially after he came up to us using one pathway we were wondering if we could even cross.

Apparently the ice expands as it freezes, causing the cracks at the middle of the paths. Water leaks up through the cracks and spreads out for a couple of feet, dissolving the snow, and then re-freezes.

Did I mention the sound? Standing next to one of the cracks, I heard this “ping” sound, a harmonic, otherworldly sound that seemed to emanate from the crack. Jojo called this sound ‘making ice’, and heard it many time while living on Hash Road.

We asked Bill, and he said it was the sound that follows you around the ice and scares you as a kid (he grew up in Wisconson.) But not to worry he said, the lake could hold a truck at this point. He explained that the slush we (and he, we saw his tracks) has gone through, was nothing to worry about, the water from the cracks created the slush, and it would soon freeze. Plus there are several inches of ice below. He also told us not to worry if we had to cross a spot where the ice was pushed, there is often some water on the lee side, but good ice underneath. We also asked about coming off the lake at the water intake station, and he reckoned we should be careful as the ice could thin where the water was being pumped.

The sun was getting close to the ridge, and we said goodbye to Bill, and headed towards the Paynetown Ramp. I took a couple last shots, and we headed up the hill to 446 and home through the clear, colorful sunset. As we approached Paynetown Ramp, we saw a full grown bald fly up from the ice, circle about, and then land on a tree limb about 1000 feet way.

West RidgeThe IslandSunset on the Ridge
Sunset on the ice, and goodbye to Lake Monroe.

We climbed the ridge from Paynetown, a gradual uphill, streaked up 446 to Pine Grove Rd, then took old 446 back to Bloomington.

Frozen Griffy Ride

Feb 3, 2007
Jojo and I hit the trail on this sub-20 degree, sunny day. Bundled thoroughly, we actually got warm during the ride. As we had not done cold riding before, we decided an hour would be fine, so we took the Headley Rd to Lake Griffy, which was fully frozen with skaters all over the ice on both sides of the causeway. We rode out on the ice, which was not a problem where it was covered with about an inch of snow. But when we got to uncovered ice, feet went down immediately, there just is no static friction, and wheels do whatever they want. So we walked back to the snow covered portion, looking down into the water through 3 inches of clear ice. Pretty cool.

We then climbed the hill, rode to Bethel Lane, pushed our way into a 15mph cold west wind, then on to Old 37 and back through Cascades Park, the creek was half frozen, but near the top we saw a pair of mallards swimming in the creek.

Time: 1h15m
Distance: ~10 miles
Weather: Clear Blue sky with white bunches of clouds. Temp: 18 degrees
Wildlife: Male/Female pair of mallard ducks in Cascades Creek.