The really important thing about snowshoeing on a frozen lake is …

By | March 16, 2014

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It’s been a pretty cold winter in Vermont. Lake Champlain froze almost completely over, which it hasn’t been doing as a rule most years recently. Vermonters have an almost religious obligation to get out on the ice and do some wintertime ice fishing, but Carole and I have resisted the siren call by virtue of not actually being native Vermonters, not being into fishing, and not finding the prospect of calling the Coast Guard in early spring when the ice floe we’re on breaks off and heads north to Canada all that appealing.

But today, we said “What the heck” and strapped on our snowshoes and went for a walk on Burlington harbor. We saw traces of many other walkers, skiers, snowshoers, and more — the lake looked to be pretty thoroughly frozen. It was a beautiful sunny day, although very cold, with temperatures in the low-to-mid teens and a fairly steady wind.

We didn’t have much of a plan; we walked out to the breakwater, took a few photos, and then thought about heading back in. I wanted to see if the yellow sphere marking the underwater wreck of the General Butler was visible through the ice, so I climbed up on the breakwater to see if I could spot it. No dice. Either it was under the ice or it’d been removed before winter set in.

Coming down off the breakwater, I found that it’s really important to remember that Mother Nature can be a tricky broad. The ice right next to the breakwater was, um, kinda thin. I went straight through and up to the calf of one foot and up to the top of my boot on my other. I don’t know if there were rocks right under the water that arrested my descent or whether I was simply levitating by that point, but in about four nanoseconds I had propelled myself back up and out onto firmer, um, ice. I looked at Carole and said “We are heading back now.”

The hole in the ice next to the breakwater that almost got Jay

The hole in the ice next to the breakwater that almost got Jay

Truth to be told, I’d been so fast to get back out of the water that my thick socks were barely wet, and we wound up not actually heading directly back to the car, although we did head more or less in that direction. On our way, we passed a pair of ski poles, just sticking into the ice with nary a track around. It looked like they’d been there a while. We hoped that whomever they belonged to hadn’t been eaten by a yeti or gone through the ice themselves.

A pair of ski poles we found sticking into the ice of the harbor -- with no tracks near them. They'd apparently been there for a while.

A pair of ski poles we found sticking into the ice of the harbor — with no tracks near them. They’d apparently been there for a while.

And as we were just getting back to shore, we saw a couple of people kite skiing, zooming along on the ice behind an immense kite/parasail thingy. They looked like they were having fun.

Kite skiers

Kite skiers

So, yeah, we had fun — but I think Carole and I are both ready for spring. Strange to think that in just five days all this ice and snow will be gone.

It will be gone, right?


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