Hidden By Winter

Snow and dense fog arrived with the new winter storm in the pre-dawn hours. The snowfall, 2-4 inches. Pockets of dense fog added a glazing of ice and invisibility.

North Ranch: draped in snow, cloaked in fog

foggy aura

Throughout the day, our invisibility would slip away, but roll back in a couple of hours later. Tonight, the fog will persist and may become more dense. The barnyard lights will provide an eerie glow.

Most definitely, it will be a night to stay in with a nice fire in the hearth.

 

Side Note

Megan, who’s renting our house in the old neighborhood, she’s been waiting for snow for most of the day. A winter aficionado, Megan rescheduled her day. To say she was disappointed, well, Megan was disappointed. She’s suggested new weather guessers may be needed.

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Winter On The Range

Snow. More snow. And, more snow.

It began snowing in the pre-dawn darkness, Wednesday morning. Three days of light snow. Not terribly much in accumulation, perhaps 3-4 inches by late Thursday afternoon. The cold, not too bitter, staying around 5° F/-15° C during the overnight, around 25° F/- 4° C during the daytime. The skies were partly cloudy at sunrise, this morning. Within a couple of hours, the clouds filled back in and began snowing again.

It does make for some pretty.

Wednesday morning: line shack weathering the snow (JN Ranch/North Ranch, Dec 26 2018)

returning home: wintry, foggy drive into the JN Valley (Dec 27 2018)

Christmastime: candles in the window (North Ranch, Dec 28 2018)

The snow is forecasted to end during the overnight, before returning on New Year’s Eve. The cold is expected to continue for another week.

A Long Day

The weather decided to take a turn to the wintry side today. While much of the week’s training has been indoors at RRC, my daughters were thinking whether they should scrap the trail ride they had planned for this afternoon. Though it was not snowing, it certainly was chilly. After a short chat, they decided to shorten their trail ride.

After donning their long rider coats, the horses draped in their blankets, they went on their trail ride. Thirty minutes later, they had returned as light snow began to fall. Time to call it day. The girls quickly prepped the horses for loading into their trailer, which was already being warmed for the trip home. Within the hour, we were on way. The road reports back towards home were okay – slushy and icy in spots. I’ve driven through worse with a fully loaded trailer.

The drive on I-25 was quite normal despite the steady snowfall. When we passed the big red barn at Greenland Ranch, at least we were still able to see the barn in the heavy snow band.

Greenland Ranch – the big red barn
photo credit: Tara

 

The drive over Monument Hill, an accident magnet in winter conditions, was smooth. No real problems. I thought we would be home much sooner than I had anticipated. Not tonight.

Ahead was a major back-up on the interstate from a jack-knifed tractor-trailer rig that was bottlenecking the highway. Jumping off to another route really wasn’t a good option as other roads were experiencing heavy traffic volumes. Three hours later, we made our way past the accident scene in the final stages of clean-up.

After stabling the horses and stowing away the gear, we finally got home – mere minutes before Laurie and Andrea came home at 7:30 pm.

A long day it was, probably longer than we anticipated.

Winter Driven

Coming home from the Las Vegas National Horse Show, my daughters and I knew we would likely run into the storm on our way home. We had kept an eye on the weather forecast indicating a winter storm was taking shape. From our stopover spot in Utah, we made an early start Monday morning. The plan was to be ahead of the worst part of the storm as much as possible. The last place we wanted to be was in the mountains, in blizzard conditions, with the horses. We stayed on schedule, Monday morning, with my girls having their turns in driving.

Snow began to fall when we made our way through the very scenic Glenwood Canyon. We stopped at the Hanging Lake Rest Area to check on the horses, and, if possible, get an update on the weather. The horses were good, very comfortable in their warm trailer. The weather update, not so good. Snow was beginning to fall heavily between Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel farther to the east. By the time we made Vail Pass in the early afternoon, I-70 was pretty much snowpacked. Before making our run up the pass, it was time to chain up. We pulled up behind a trucker who was chaining up also. After I finished chaining up, the trucker asked what kind of horses I had in the trailer. I told him we had show horses, four of them of the hunter/jumper kind. “Sounds expensive,” he replied. The trucker offered to lead us up to the tunnel. I accepted his kind gesture.

snow and ice on the window, right (middle-row) passenger side (taken at Vail Pass, I-70 eastbound)
photo credit: Elizabeth

 

Slowly, and steadily, we drove from Vail Pass to the Eisenhower Tunnel. In winter conditions, it is one of the most difficult stretches of I-70 through the mountains. We passed several slide-offs and accidents along the way, which became more numerous between Silverthorne and the tunnel. About 10 minutes after we passed the Silverthorne exit, the Colorado State Patrol closed I-70, east and west, due to the numerous accidents.

I-70 (eastbound) before the steep grade to the entrance of the Eisenhower Tunnel
photo credit: Deborah

 

Slow and steady remained our pace up the steep grade to the tunnel entrance. In making the steep grade, everyone kept their momentum going forward. When the tunnel entrance is reached, one cannot help but to relish the drive through the tunnel. No snow, no wind. And, a short stretch of dry road.

at the western entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel (I-70 eastbound)
photo credit: Deborah

 

It was snowing heavily, probably more heavily, as we drove out of the tunnel. We pulled over to the side where many truckers were checking their chains, before making the long drive down the steep grade. The trucker who led us up was glad to see we made it through. He thought he had lost us. I told him some other cars got in between us, but we kept sight of his rig. I thanked him for his generosity, that it was much appreciated.

While the intensity of the snowfall was varied, it was time to heavily concentrate, again, on winter driving, but in diminishing daylight and on icy roads. Driving downhill was easier, but it is also keeping the speed under control. With the icy road and snowpacked conditions, you couldn’t use your brakes too much. Apply too much brake, the horse trailer would fish tail. The horses wouldn’t like it, and neither would I.

the steep downgrade from the Eisenhower Tunnel (I-70 eastbound)
photo credit: Deborah

 

The last road section of concern was Floyd Hill below Georgetown. It is the curvy part of I-70 coming out of the mountains. In snowy and icy conditions, Floyd Hill is notorious for accidents. But, if taken with caution, it is easy to navigate the curves.

The remainder of our drive home was largely a slushy one. The only remaining icy and snowpacked spot was Monument Hill on I-25, also another accident magnet in winter conditions. Having driven Monument Hill many times in winter, it is the matter of keeping the speed under control on the downgrade.

A longer than normal drive because of the winter conditions, it was a safe one. When we reached the JN Ranch to stable the horses, Monday night, they had four inches on the ground and more still falling. Though it was windy, the blizzard conditions came very late in the overnight. By Tuesday morning, the JN Ranch had 15 inches of snow and drifts at 6-7 feet in height. This morning, they were finally able to clear the snow from their access road. Here at home, we had a couple of inches but plenty of wind.

It’s safe to say winter has begun.

Between Storms

The snow from Sunday and Monday is a distant memory, giving way to blue skies later today – albeit a chilly day. This respite from winter will be a short-lived one with the weather guessers at the National Weather Service and local TV suggesting a colder, snowier winter storm is taking aim at the coming weekend.

An escape from the cold, though, is not in the cards. In Atlanta, for business, it’s expected to be a chilly few days also. While Metro Atlanta was spared from an ice storm overnight, AccuWeather has forecasted for a possibility of ice at week’s end.

May everyone have a good remainder of the week.

Icicles

Though no icicles today, it has been an outstanding winter season for them.

 

They’ve been exceptionally sparkly and clear, allowing them to easily capture the sunlight. Though appearing to be “treat ready”, they’re really not. The icicles may likely have a touch of grit, or perhaps a flavor of galvanized steel.

bright and clear, full of sparkles

 

frozen and clear

 

an exceptionally clear icicle pair

 

shining in the morning golden hour

 

With winter expected to return later tonight, another batch of icicles may be on the way too.