From Water Vapor to Ice Crystals

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Animals, General, Reflections & Celebrations

   Hiking in the winter has its rewards. Blankets of sparkling white snow reflecting sunlight, mysterious animal tracks, and bird sightings are just some of the joys of winter hiking.  This winter we went hiking near Pineview Reservoir in Eden, Utah where we were lucky enough to spot a bald eagle and enormous surface hoar frost! 

   Hoar frost occurs when moist air comes into contact with below freezing objects such as leaves, twigs, the ground, or the top layer of snow.  Under these conditions water vapor turns into a solid state (ice crystals) upon contact with nearby objects.  Hoar frost can grow progressively as long as the right conditions persist (cold clear skies, humidity, and slight wind).  Surface hoar develops on the top layer of snow and can grow into feathery ice crystals that are highly reflective of sunlight. 

   We were also impressed with the determination of the ice fisherman we saw on the frozen surface of the reservoir on this cold, but beautiful day!  Black crappie and yellow perch are common here for ice fishing.

   Pineview reservoir is a man-made reservoir located in Ogden Canyon and is fed by the Ogden River as well as snowmelt.  It is primarily used for irrigation but also offers recreational opportunities such as camping, swimming, boating, and fishing.  Other fish of Pineview include bass, bluegill, trout and tiger musky. 

   Tiger muskies are a hybrid fish (often sterile) being the result of a muskellunge and a northern pike.  They grow quickly and much larger than their parents.  Tiger muskies are also resistant to disease and are difficult for anglers to catch.  They are ambush predators with large stomachs who are known to eat all varieties of fish as well as muskrats, frogs, and even ducks.   

From frost to lake ecology and beyond, winter reveals her wonders to those who seek them.  Bundle up, go forth and discover some winter magic!