Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Deep Snow, Thin Ice

Such a beautiful blue-sky day today, I planned to walk around Moreau Lake on the ice. I love crossing that dazzling expanse out under the wide-open sky, with the sun warm on my back. The snow is usually not as deep out on the ice, so my snowshoes don't sink in so far. But this is the message that stopped me as I started down toward the lake. Thin ice!? How can that be with this bitter cold weather?

I turned back to ask the staffers at park headquarters about this, and I learned that the ice has become unsafe because of all the deep snow on it. The enormous weight of all this snow has caused the lake ice to sink and allow water to seep up under the snow and turn what was once hard ice to mush. Then the very depth of the snow insulates the slush and prevents it from refreezing, even if the air temperature plummets to below zero. Somebody fell through the other day, so the lake has become off-limits for ice fishing. So that's why the parking lot was so empty today. Too bad. Moreau's a very popular fishing lake.

All that snow may be dangerous, but it certainly is beautiful.

I was happy to stick to the well-packed trails as I made my way around the lake.

As I passed the swimming beach, I smiled to see that these signs have all eventualities covered.

Looks like it will be quite a while before the picnickers return.


Louise said...

Be hard to eat off of those tables, even if the picnicers were around!

That's strange about the snow. I wonder how many of the lakes and bays are like that now? I did see an ice fisherman out in the middle of the bay as I came over the bridge this afternoon, so, apparently it's still safe.

suep said...

It's amazing what a difference a week can make in ice conditions ...
we need more words to describe the different sorts of ice - Thoreau talks about the "snow ice" on Walden Pond being unreliable to walk upon.

Anonymous said...

Geez, I hope you didn't do any "wading and bathing"!! ;)
I never knew that about the icy water turning into insulated mush! Very interesting, and very good to know for a fellow snowshoer who lives near many streams, rivers and lakes! Beautiful photos!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi Louise. That ice fisherman you saw is taking his chances. Let's hope he kept auguring to check the ice thickness, but even thick ice can be weakened by heavy snow on top of it.

You're right, Sue, we need more terms. But above all, I'm sorry the ice has become so risky now, because it sure made it easy to get around the lake on the frozen surface.

No, Rain, not yet this year have I fallen through. I did last year, at the edge of the river where fresh snow hid the signs of recent refreezing of open water. Luckily I went in only up to my hips, and I could pull myself out immediately, but I had a cold half-mile back to my car.