Well, ice is nice, but sun is fun, and spring is beginning to fill my mind. However, before winter fades totally from the carnival of natural events during this time of year, some thoughts about ice still keep re-circulating here.  Why?  It is all quite amazing.  One of our previous river guests found the above picture of an ice circle on Planet Earth Phenomenon Facebook page. He then posted it on our FB page with the following comment: “This is a pretty cool picture of a Idaho river I am sure Gary could take anyone to it.”  Little did he know, I was the person who actually took this picture.

Then my wife, Barb, tracked down the photo on Planet Earth Phenomenon and noticed someone else had taken credit for it, though probably not intentionally, (truth gets  distorted easily ).  So she went about the task of  attempting  to set the record straight.  After all, we do take pictures to share, but would at least like credit for it.  Once informed, PEP then corrected the  misinformation.  Following their change, another guy whom had been trying for about 5 days to track down the true origin of that picture, rippled yet another set of motions. He went on a mission to contact us to see if we were indeed the people responsible for taking that picture, because he wanted to know the story behind it all.

But, when he called, we were upriver.   I was fly fishing for steelhead while Barb was helping some other lady friends pick up garbage on the river (ya I know, typical man – but hey, historically I have spent many such similar days). However,  when we got home, Barb found his message,  so gave him a call.  He told her his story and it ignited a series of several emails back and forth, where we soon learned we had many similarities in life styles, appreciation for rivers,  and nature.  Thus, the snowball grew.  After all, “it only takes one rock to start an avalanche.

This is also when we learned this photo had been going viral, which also led to our discovery that when we googled “ice circle” our photo came up everywhere on a ton of other sites. Little did we know the power of our own reach.  It also led me into a giant loop of feedback in memory.    Many past events of my various encounters of ice related situations began playing around in my head.

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An ice circle, more technically called pancake ice, thus created quite a stir. It sent my thoughts far back to times when I floated the Grande Ronde in the middle of winter, when I  had to pull my raft across several ice bridges. Quite terrifying at first, but I learned how to read ice, like reading rivers, which helped me know how to deal with a host of unusual conditions more reasonably.  But, it also increased my awareness for how to access areas most people don’t, and to see things  most people won’t, because of their fears. It catapulted my appreciation for barriers. They are like walls to keep at bay those things that make solitude hard to find.

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I soon learned that the “offbeat”, (climbing over or around barriers) is a great dance step.  May not look pretty on the dance floor, but what a fun dance it makes to put your toes into wonderful places without worrying about getting stepped on.  Not being afraid to look or be different and to go against the common flow of things has great rewards.

Like seeing deer grazing under giant frozen waterfalls, elk swimming across a river to gain more food on southern exposures,  bald eagles cruising for prey weakened from harsh weather,  and water ouzles (dippers) playing amidst it all – taking underwater dips in all that coldness.


Note: as I was writing this post, yet another writer/photographer from a paper in Montana contacted us to get the back story to our picture.  Again, seems quite amazing.  On the surface it all seems like such a random thing.  But diving underneath it all, like the dipper, another world exists, along with new revelations. Sometimes random, is not as random as one first thinks. ( absurdity of irony). In nature, there are power laws that rule which serve to bring order out of chaos. (more fodder for another post down the line).

For the curious, here are some interesting links all related to ice circles and the back story:

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