I was laughing at Eastern Canada because they had a cold spell and for once it wasn't us! haha, I knew it was just a matter of time until it made it's way to us. -30's and -40's are not our average winter temperatures but also not unusual but most of the population of Canada lives more southern and much closer to the US border therefore are not as accustomed to the deep cold as we are. Times like these make me wonder how anti-fossil fuels activists are keeping warm? Betcha it's FOSSIL FUELS eh! Ok I'm being an ass, I just had to throw that out there but not what this is about but I don't think they realize how harsh the climate is in the northern half of Canada, I suppose I have the luxury of having lived in both and have a different perspective. Although it does make me wonder why did I move to where the air hurts my face for half the year? 😱 😱 I shouldn't be allowed to make decisions but that's not really news to me 😆, what can I say, fortune favors the bold.
Shot 1/200 sec. f/10 65mm, ISO 400. Pyramid Bench, Jasper National Park.
Thankfully, I'm spending this polar blast indoors this year but it's not always the case. Going as far back as 400 days ago, or the last polar blast, we took a trip to the Canadian Rockies to end Canada's 150th anniversary. Probably the only trip out there that has actually been planned more than 2 weeks ahead of time, we generally just kinda decide and go when we have down time because our job doesn't allow us to plan ahead since we are contractors and we can't always plan when shit is going to break down. Back to the point, I'm a resilient 120 lb tall skinny bitch and been thru hell and back and will claw my way in life till my last breath to anyone that tries to hold me back and that includes MOTHER NATURE. No way we were cancelling our plans, we just went and got some really warm gear and puckered up. The good news, the normally drowning in tourist area was deserted and we had first choice of any activity available because everyone cancelled due to the extreme cold. We followed this horse trailer up the mountain to see where they were going and as soon as I watched them unload these 2 beautiful Belgian Horses, I knew I wanted in on those shenanigans. Wrapped up in a warm blanket taking a sleigh ride towards the mountain on the frozen lake, what a Canadian way to celebrate the New Year!
Speaking of frozen things, What does Athabasca Falls, one of the most powerful waterfall in the Rockies look like at -40? Well now you know...not that powerful now are ya...eh! I once climbed down there like a dumb ass, I don't recommend it, it's dangerous but I also did it when the rocks weren't covered in snow and ice and I could ensure I was stepping on solid ground. But FYI you can seriously get injured and flow away into the violent river or in legal trouble if you get caught so don't do it m-kay. Fun fact, naturally occurring ice is classified as a mineral in the geology world but water isn't because of it's crystalline structure. Back on topic, amazingly, the water was still lightly flowing over frozen block of ice but it was truly a natural gem and so worth the cold. When it gets this cold, the ice over the violent river has time to form a layer thick enough to be safely accessed on foot to get to the base of the waterfall that would not be possible under any other time of year or without the cold. Hooray for extreme cold! What's wrong with me? lol maybe the maple syrup running thru my Canadian veins flows better than blood in the cold. It was so cold that @silvergingerman's iphone gave up without a fight and shut down immediately , somehow my Nikon survived...the shutter was really sluggish but I was pleasantly surprised how well it handled the conditions.
Shot 1/250 sec. f/6.3 18 mm, ISO 100
If you remember one of my recent post, I talked about the devastation of the pine beetle, well here it is right before your eyes my friends. The picture above is Mount Kerkeslin, the mountain that stands proudly behind Athabasca falls. The first picture with the waterfall was taken when I first started to notice visible signs of the infection but as you can see it's still pretty green. The last picture with just the mountain is what it looked like in November of last year, less than a year later. All the orange are the dead infected trees that will eventually fall and create a big wildfire hazard during our warm and dry summer months. Parks Canada estimates that up to 50% of the forest could be infected.
From a different more accessible part of jasper near Maligne Canyon
and taken in summer to give you and areal view of what the infected
areas look like and the severity of the situation . Alost anywhere you
look in Jasper National Park now looks like this.
The infection was caused by a warming climate that allowed the pest to migrate north to new territories. It once was cold enough to keep them from moving in but as our winters get warmer and the extreme cold periods don't last as long as they once did and the permafrost from the glaciers melting faster than ever recorded, it creates the perfect conditions for them to multiply. They burrow and build colonies into the core of the trees where it's warm, at the same time preventing the nutrients and water to go from the roots to the branches until the tree dies. For all the climate nay-sayers, the proof is in the pudding, here's the pudding. Natural or man made, it's happening and this is a direct result of it. Bring back the -40's and Make Jasper Great Again! (Don't get me wrong, it's still great but it looks better with a live forest.)
This Arctic blast is most likely a result of a warming climate as the polar vortex is essentially a vortex in the north that goes round and round over the pole like the name suggest, when a pocket of warm air moves in and disrupts it, it forces the cold air out of it's trajectory towards us. As the temperatures get warmer and more warm air reach the north and disrupts the flow, these burst will become more frequent as odd as it may sound. I'm no scientist but it's only logical and basic laws of nature and air flow. It's more complex than that but it's the long story short in simplified words. Don't get me wrong, where I live it's cold no matter what because, well, it's too close to the North Pole then what I would like but when extreme cold reaches the US as harshly as it did, it's a disruption in the flow.
Since I'm writing about celebrating the blast like a crazy Canuck, here is another interesting feature that is created by the cold. Methane gas that does not have time to escape the lake before the ice freezes and gets trapped as bubbles into the ice of Abraham Lake, AB. This can only be seen from January to February when the ice forms faster than than the air can escape and thick enough to be safely accessed. I haven't been yet but certainly on my to do list for next winter. It's expensive to vacation down there during peak ski season(right now) but I did notice that there is a Hostel near by, that could be an option, we don't go for the fancy resort type vacation anyway, we like the wilderness, I just don't like sleeping outside in a tent during the winter. I have convinced @silvergingerman of worst things I'm sure, we'll see...
Here is more details from a blogger that has been there and a few tips for the journey, I recommend the read and a video going around fakebook. If your hibernating from the cold like me, what else are you going to do anyway!?! 😝😝😝
What does he have to do with wilderness and Arctic blast? Kit-Ten used to be a feral cat, considered a nuisance for the rest of the neighborhood and of course treated really bad. He was to wild to approach and was really scared of humans and would hide at the first sight of them. In the winter, he used to burrow under cement porches as a shelter, clever kitty but probably why he was a nuisance, along with his garbage rummaging for food and being mangy looking with matted fur and frost bites...Anyways, the extreme cold had set in for a week and I think he hit max on his BS meter and ran in our place as soon as we opened the door and it must have been heaven because that was 3 or 4 years ago and he hasn't spent a night outside of our house since, actually, he's mainly an indoor cat and even borderline pet by now while taking the occasional stroll to visit his cat friends that come get him at the door.
If it wasn't for the extreme cold, we most likely wouldn't have been able to save him. Now each time it gets really cold he gets really cuddly and grateful that he doesn't have to be out there anymore, each winter that passes he develops a new pet-like habit and learns to trust more. We're still working on it but he went way passed our expectations as to how much we would be able to domesticate him. He's the cutest thing ever.
One more feature that would be impossible without the cold, Edmonton's Ice Castle. Being the only one in Canada and one of 5 in North America, it's a castle with ice towers and slides with Christmas lights frozen inside of it. Before this blast, it was really warm and they had to close the castle because it was unsafe, now with the cold they can rebuild, Hooray! I have to revisit this wonder but this one is a little weather dependent. This week-end is the judging of the "ICE ON WHYTE" festival where world renowned ice carvers come grace us with there frozen masterpieces in a competition, I was hoping to maybe go check it out, I'm cold just thinking about it tho.
Even if the cold sounds depressing, it shape our lives in unbelievable ways by bringing us unique experiences and we depend on it more than we realize. When you can't change a situation change your perception of it. Those are some of my frozen silver lining moments, the air may hurt my face where I live but I clearly still had fun regardless how about you? ever think how it's ever impacted your life in a unique way? What is your frozen silver lining?
All images taken with Nikon D7000