Yesterday on our visit to the Grand Canyon, we caught the bus that takes you on a tour out to Hermit’s Nest, making a number of stops at scenic points (like every point isn’t scenic, huh?) along the way. Its terminus was a place called the Hermit’s Nest where you could enjoy a humonstrous fire, get a cup of coffee, and maybe drop a dime on some useless canyon paraphernalia. There was a book there called “Who Pooped In The Canyon”, which was pretty amusing and showed you all the animials and what their excrement looked like. It wasn’t really a contender for purchase, but deserved a mention. As many of you who know me well could have guessed, I headed straight for the T-shirt section. I found a long sleeved olive colored T with a slogan on it that hit me right where I live. I was going to buy it for a guy I know who doesn’t exactly “get” my sense of spirit and adventure, but in my heart I knew I’d keep it for myself! Here’s what it says:
Isn’t that great??? And it even has boots on it, so I’m thinking it will go with me this summer.
Now, onto the snow. Initially the snow that was falling was the classic snow flake variety. The snow where you can see each beautiful and not to be repeated crystalline structure. At some point, something weird started to fall. Large clumps of snow, but not the big wet blobby snow I’ve seen before. This stuff was conical in shape (shaped sort of like a NASA reentry module,
These ‘snow modules’ were upwards of a quarter of an inch long. Really weird stuff.
And at first glance, on the ground, it looked like hail, but it was really light and you could pick it apart, so it wasn’t that. We ran into a British family, and they thought it looked like “polystyrene falling from the sky”, that’s styrofoam to us Yanks. Now here is where I will bore you to death. I was determined to discover what this oddity was. This is what I have learned! This snow is called ‘conical graupel’. Graupel is a word of german derviation meaning ‘kernal’. These pellets of snow sort of look do look like kernals of corn. They look more like re-entry modules, but there probably wasn’t a German word for that when it came to having to find a cool name for this snow. It is thought to be a transititional state between snow and hail, but they really don’t know much about it. But how totally cool that we got to see it!
The quality of this picture is awful, but that could be explained by the fact that I found it on google images, cut and pasted it in Irfanview, saved it in PhotoSuite changing it from a .bmp file to a .jpg file, and uploaded it here. I suppose it would be easier to do a fancy schmancy link to the picture, but even though a kind reader recently sent me detailed instructions on just how to DO that…I haven’t mastered it. So, you’ll have to deal with the fuzzy photo. All I really wanted you to see was the lunar module nature of the pellet dead center in the picture. If you are interested in boring yourselves further with a very brief scientific explanation of how these weird snow flakes are formed, and to see the picture above as intended, you can use this old fashioned kind of link: http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/as3/scrns/precip/Note09.html.
Okay, so now that we have the technical and the boring and the T-shirt out of the way, just one more picture relating to the Grand Canyon:
He just stood there on the precipice of the canyon and posed like he knew exactly what I was doing!