Chasing Light: Icescapes

Ice-coated boulders in the Snake River near Keystone, Colorado.

These are the days of deep, dark shadows in the canyons of the Rocky Mountains. Even on sunny days, the steep mountain walls shade the creeks all day long, with sun barely climbing above the ridge tops. In the weeks just before and after the winter solstice, the streams are transformed into a wonderland of glittery and glowing ice formations. The colors of the ice vary from stream to stream. In the Snake River, the ice has a pleasing blue-green hue from the heavy concentrations of metals in the water; in Meadow Creek, flowing out of the Eagles Nest Wilderness, the color is a warmer golden-red, probably from plant-based tannins. Watching the creeks freeze up each year is like watching time slow down, and a great way to get in tune with the cycle of the seasons.