In January of 2010 I first noticed these ice formations on the trails, I reached down to pick them up thinking they were plastic. My intention had been to clean up the mess left in the Forest. Once in my hand I realized they were beautiful pieces of ice, I immediately felt guilty for disturbing Nature’s beautiful art. In Hot Springs National Park I only saw these beautiful creations on the north face of the Hot Springs Mountain Trail and the South face on the Dead Chief Trail heading to the Gulpha Gorge. Both of these areas had one trait in common, they always felt colder than other places in the park. It often felt as if I was stepping into a curtain of cold air when I would reach these specific locations on the Trail. I learned later these are known as microclimates, a microclimate is a localized atmospheric zone where the differs climate conditions differ from the surrounding area. Learn More: Encyclopedia Britannica: Microclimates
My original thought had been that these formed by freezing on vegetation and then sliding perhaps twisting down to the ground. The truth, they are caused by moisture extruding from cracks in the base of a dead plant stem. The ribbons of ice are pushed out the dead stems and form the beautiful shapes as found in my photographs above. I hope to capture many more this coming winter. Learn More: Ice Ribbons and Frost Flowers
Nature is the best classroom, I am a very enthusiastic student.