Thursday, January 12, 2017

testing the ice

I cautiously inched out onto the ice. It looked like it would hold. There were a few boot tracks in the snow and no large gaping holes, so obviously the walkers had made it back to shore. Our five mile long lake had frozen! It was a January miracle!
Near the boat ramp, the ice had frozen bumpy, the bane of skaters. Wind is the enemy of smooth ice formation. You want a cold, calm night for the best ice.  I almost gave up, but since this is only the second time the lake has frozen since I moved here, I decided to keep trying. Looking like an ungainly bird, I hobbled out past the boat dock supports.
Bumpy ice!
At least the ice seemed solid. I decided to venture out farther. A thin layer of snow covered the ice so it was hard to tell what was bumpy or smooth. I had to go on faith alone. But then I found it. Smooth ice! I circled around, getting braver.

A couple of onlookers appeared. "How do you know it's safe?" they asked. Well, you never really know. You can dig a hole in one place and it might not be as thick in others. "We'll pull you out if you fall in," they suggested, which emboldened me to go out further. Perhaps not a wise plan, but it worked. In fact, as we explored, we discovered a slushy area from which we retreated rapidly (it could have just been snow melting). All I could go with was my  instinct, which is usually right in these situations. And sometimes you just have to try.

First tracks!
The onlookers left, so I decided the better part of valor was to come in too. A skater must know her limitations. People here are complaining about winter and all I can think is: move away then! I hope this ice sticks around for awhile.

21 comments:

  1. It has been many, many years since I've ice skated on a frozen pond. Enjoyed your story and glad the ice held. :)

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    1. Me top, haha. Someone drilled today and it was 3.5 inches. It would be better with 4, but the snow is insulating it and it's going to be below zero the next few nights.

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  2. Now you need some wind to clear the snow! Years ago, L skated all the way down Deer Lake on clear ice...he said it was like flying! Hope you get more...

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    1. There wasn't too much snow so it was perfect. Good for skiing also.

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  3. I have been contemplating getting rid of my skates, it's been so long since I've used them. So glad you got a chance to skate, and looks like a gorgeous day. For some reason the 2nd photo won't load, I can see the caption but no image (Bumpy ice).
    R had been complaining about winter for weeks, but he lives and works in a city, so I can't blame it. It's just a pain there with none of the peace and beauty.

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    1. Darn, that pic showed up on my computer. Just a picture of my skates on the bumps. We went way out today on our skis...the ice underneath the snow is so smooth.

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    2. all three photos showed up and are dazzling when clicked on for full size....the one with the sun looking like a bright star above the tracks on the ice is beautiful.

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  4. I agree with you Mary about people complaining about the weather or environment, especially recent transplants. HELLO, you chose to move here. It's a great filter. My friends in McCloud talk about the same problem. We rarely have access to lakes for skating but those years we do, it's so much fun for our skaters. For me, I had a blast photographing the various patterns in the ice.

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    1. This has only happened twice since I've lived here so I'm enthralled. Thank goodness for cold temps.

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  5. There are people everywhere, who are never happy whatever the weather is.
    I love that you got to enjoy your frozen lake, especially safely. I didn't realise you could skate through the snow on ice. Your last pic says it all. Just wonderful.

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    1. If there isn't too much snow you can. There's a narrow window.

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  6. I've just enlarged them - wow! the carpet of snow / ice parcels around your feet is magical.

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    1. We skied on it today...it was perfect.

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  7. Those pictures are gorgeous!!!! So cool that it froze! (No pun intended).

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    1. It's been great. People were playing hockey today!

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  8. Jill H said she couldn't think of any payoffs for -40 temps. Here's one: It's -40 in both Fahrenheit and Celsius!

    And at least for those of us in Fairbanks, -40 isn't -50.

    -55 and colder had been forecast, but instead we got a couple of inches of snow and it only got down to -31 at my house, -28 now--although -36 at the airport. Usually there isn't that big of difference unless you gain more elevation.

    This chart shows how much warmer it is now in Fairbanks:

    http://ak-wx.blogspot.com/2017/01/historic-fairbanks-cold-snaps.html

    It shows when it's been colder than -40 for 7 days or more.

    Tom
    Fairbanks

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    1. Hahaha, "only" minus 31. Seriously. How do you people do it?

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  9. It's a dry cold! (I wonder if in Phoenix, after a dust storm, they say "It's a dry dust"?

    Like most places, our weather is a mixed bag. Rarely any wind when it's cold, so -20 feels warmer than +20 can on the coast. And after -50, -20 feels downright warm.

    I'm sure many people (and now maybe yourself) ask you how you could live where it rains 8 feet and 270 days a year--and you worked down-island were it was twice that.

    When I moved from Sitka to Fairbanks, I was amused when folks were complaining about the "rainy" days that August.

    A high of -41 at my house today! Low last night of -45. It helps a lot that I don't have work to drive to. And that I've always had a garage here.

    While I'm not sad that we haven't had weather this cold since 2012, I'd hate to live someplace like Idaho across the rivers from you that usually have slushy winters. And I can't imagine living somewhere that only gets 12 hours of daylight in the summer.

    The cold and calm is easy enough that schools here have never been canceled because of the cold. But in recent years when we've been getting frequent freezing rain, that DOES close the schools due to the roads being so dangerous.

    Most schools will cancel outside recess when it 20 below! The bookmobile that serves outlying areas each Saturday doesn't go out if it's colder than 30 below. Our sprint sleddog races have a 25 below cutoff. But I have gotten soft, I guess. I don't skijor now if it's much below zero.

    Tom
    Fairbanks

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    1. Haha that is true, in Sitka the rain was just...normal. I just sent my latest manuscript to my agent. It's about working as a wilderness kayak ranger along the gulf of Alaska. Brought back a lot of memories.

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  10. These pictures are stunning and the view is spectacular! You are very lucky to have this natural beauty nearby. I think that skating on a frozen lake must be a once in a lifetime experience, and I really hope that you are safe when contemplating it! Looks great though - thanks for sharing!

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  11. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and to have a lake for ice skating. It sounds and looks magical to a gal like me who lives in the busy city center. Good for you! Thanks for these amazing pictures too!

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