Thursday, January 8, 2009

Snowpack Monitoring and Snowshoeing

Today was my first day out as a volunteer snowpack monitor in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. I got a little refresher training before I started, then set off on snowshoes to the 60+ snow stakes and recorded the depth of the snow at each one. I meant to take a picture of one to include here, but forgot - will try again in 2 weeks when I go again. Surprisingly, there was an average of only about 4-5" of snow, with a thick icy crust on top. Snowshoes were helpful but not completely necessary. This process took about an hour total, after which I turned in my log and headed off to the day's next outing.

On the way home, I detoured back to Featherstonehaugh State Forest, to scope it out one more time before tomorrow's moonlight snowshoe outing. I wanted to assess the snow conditions after the big meltdown and freezing rain of the past few days, and also see the progress of the current logging operation. A large logging truck was loading as I arrived, and left while I was walking around. I bushwhacked west, hit the skid road somewhat west of the logging truck area, and followed it to the ski trail. The footing wasn't the best on the road, with scattered downed limbs, but it was walkable. Off the road, there was 8-10" of snow, a thick crust, and another 1-2" on top. I kept breaking through the crust, but it wasn't bad. The trees were coated with ice and snow, and this should be beautiful with a full moon tomorrow! Headed back to the car via the snowmobile trail, which was easy walking, and got caught in a heavy snow squall along the way. Looks like several inches of new snow up there for tomorrow evening.

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