Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snowshoeing of the year

Today was my first opportunity of the season to head out side and make tracks in the snow with my new snowshoes. Earlier in the year, actually it was in August, I had made a pair of Ojibway style snowshoes. Read the post here. I had been dying to try them out.

We don't really have a lot of snow on the ground right now but there is enough for snowshoeing. I was very pleased with the way the snowshoes performed. I found they were light under foot, tracked straight, and kept me afloat on what little snow we have. They are much longer than my new style GV's so I was concerned that I was going to have to walk with an extra long stride but that wasn't the case at all. While walking normally the shape of the frames fit together very well and there was no stepping on the sides of one shoe with the other.

There is, however, a bit of a learning curve. My GV's are much shorter in the toe area making it easy to cross step in front of one foot with the other. Not even thinking about it, I had turned to talk to Zoe and stepped on the front of my own snowshoe and down I went. Snow was tossed in all directions and in the end I was covered in the white stuff.

Home made Ojibway style snowshoes

It was very windy -18 degrees C (-28 degrees with the wind)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Voyageurs

I was digging around in the National Film Board of Canada's film archives this afternoon, (avoiding writing an essay) and came across this reenactment of the fur trade area. The film describes the life of the Voyageurs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Acid Snow

I've heard and read that snow is more acidic than regular lake water and I've often wondered if that is true. I know from experience on winter camping trips that drinking water made from melting snow certainly has a different flavor. It's a known fact that acids taste sour but I'm not sure that I would call the flavor of snow, sour. So I thought I'd look into this a bit with a quick Google search.

Essentially acid snow is just acid rain in a solid form rather than liquid. As a droplet of water falls through the atmosphere it removes water soluble particles such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and combines with them to become more acidic. Typically acid rain has a pH of 4.4 and snow 4.8. My guess would be that the higher pH level of snow can be explained by the fact that a solid will absorb particles less readily than a liquid and will therefore be less acidic.

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being purely acidic and 14 being purely basic, a pH of 7 is neutral.

While winter camping I used to melt snow for all of my water needs (I don't mind the flavor of snow) but in recent years we have started chopping a water hole in the lake ice so we can have access to fresh liquid water. It is much more convenient to have liquid water available and it saves a lot of time that used to be spent on making water from snow.

Photosynthesis, respiration and decomposition tend to lower the pH levels in lakes and typically the pH of natural water is between 6.5 and 8.5.

So I guess there is some truth to snow being more acidic than water but I'm not sure that this explains the difference in flavors.

Our water hole on the lake ice