Snow, Meet Sea – Odiorne Point SP in Winter

Not living on the coast, I’ve often wondered what happens when winter meets the ocean.  Does the ocean ever freeze like in the arctic?  Do the sea breezes keep the land warmer?  A cold President’s Day weekend in Portsmouth allowed me to finally answer those questions.

Early morning sun at Odiorne Point with the Isles of Shoals in the distance

Early morning sun at Odiorne Point with the Isles of Shoals in the distance

Odiorne Point in winter seems to be a popular spot for snowshoeing.  Trails were well used, although I only saw one other person this frigid morning.  I was on x-country skis, and to answer my own questions, I headed first to the shore, where the trails had all been drifted over.

Rocks in the tidal zone encrusted with rime ice

Rocks in the tidal zone encrusted with rime ice

And the answer?  The boundary was quite distinct: with snow ending abruptly where the high tides reached, no ice on the ocean, and thick ice encrusted on the rocks in the narrow tidal zone in between.

Sea spray rime ice looks like a sugar coating on these rocks

Sea spray rime ice looks like a sugar coating on these rocks

If it weren't for the ducks in the distance, you might think this was a mountain in Antarctica

If it weren’t for the ducks in the distance, you might think this was a mountain in Antarctica

I didn’t dare walk on these rocks but even from a few feet away I could see that the pattern of rime ice that had built up on the rocks was breathtaking.

Snowdrifts to the roof of the Seacoast Science Center

Snowdrifts to the roof of the Seacoast Science Center.  That’s a picnic table in the foreground!

Turning away from the point, I skied past the Seacoast Science Center.  In spite of the moderating effect of the ocean, the snowdrifts had already reached the roof.  With another storm predicted for later in the day they might have to tunnel in!

Bittersweet hanging over the trail

Bittersweet hanging over the trail

Most of the trails are on the side of the park facing the harbor.  Much of these woods seem overgrown with bittersweet, an invasive that adds some nice color to the trails.  (The birds aren’t interested in it, though.)

Old World War II batteries used to defend Portsmouth harbor

Old World War II batteries used to defend Portsmouth harbor

My goal for the morning was the huge batteries that had been built here to protect Portsmouth harbor during World War II.  Even with all the hardware removed, the emplacements are still impressive.

I loved the pattern of these marsh plants in the snow

I loved the pattern of these marsh plants in the snow

Looking towards Portsmouth harbor

Looking towards Portsmouth harbor

A quick mile was all I could handle for today even though the trails combined would probably add up to 3 miles or more.  Besides, breakfast was waiting at the hotel.  So, relieved to know that I had finally answered these winter mysteries, I packed up and went back into town.

Drifting snow made the sidewalks even more "intimate"

Drifting snow made Portsmouth’s sidewalks even more “intimate”

Portsmouth is a fun city, with lots of interesting shops and restaurants.  This photo hardly does it justice.

Portsmouth is a fun city, with lots of interesting shops and restaurants. This photo hardly does it justice.

Portsmouth is a great town with lots of unique shops and restaurants and even the piles of snow didn’t dampen the town’s spirits.  The sidewalks were a cute maze of pathways carved through the snow.  Even though this is a blog about parks, this city gets an honorable mention!  Happy travels!

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