I have lived near Lake Champlain many years of my life, and right on her shores for the last several years. I played in her waters as a child and boated on her as an adult. In warm weather, we sit next to her, with music and a campfire. I admire her changing moods every day from my kitchen window.
But I had never, ever walked on her waters. Her frozen waters, of course. Right now, there are miles and miles of ice outside my door, as a result of the cold weather you’ve been reading about and, for some of you, experiencing first hand.
This is one of those things I’ve been meaning to do and, yesterday, I finally did it!
It’s not such a big deal, really—people are out there every day in the winter. Ice fishers are out there on days when I wonder if they are sane because the ice is so thin. We’ve seen paragliders sailing along the ice surface and, some years, the ice is so thick that cars and trucks can be driven on it.
If fact, one of the family stories that gets told again and again is of my father and mother, in their young, exceedingly foolish days, driving across the ice. They crossed the lake at its broadest point of 14 miles in a big 1950s land yacht of a car. Why? To go from Plattsburgh, NY, to Burlington, VT, on a lark! I’m lucky not to have grown up an orphan!
So, the lake can be a busy place but I had never set foot on that ice until yesterday.
Yesterday was the perfect day for it! It wasn’t too cold but it has been so there were no worries about the ice giving way. It wasn’t too windy. There weren’t too many ice fishers out there. And my husband was willing to go along and add to the fun!
The ice is beautifully smooth right now, a contrast to many times when it’s frozen solid but very broken up because of wave action and thawing and re-freezing. In many spots, I’m convinced a confident skater could glide along without trouble.
No double axels for us! We strapped on our trusty Yaktrax and walked along with no worries of falling.
If you live where it can get icy and slippery and aren’t familiar with Yaktrax, this is a public service message! They’re made of rubber with coiled steel and they strap on snugly over any shoes or boots. Your weight causes the steel coils to grip the ice and prevent slipping. My husband broke his leg several years ago, slipping on ice, so we keep the Yaktrax handy now.
So, all bundled up, with Yaktrax-ed feet, we took a wonderful walk on the ice. The perspective from lake level is completely different so we took photos of our house and walked down the lake and took pictures along the way.
Truly, there wasn’t a lot to see—a broad, flat, gray expanse of beautiful ice. A few ice-fishing specks in the distance. No sound but us scrunching. Peaceful. Lovely.
Having finally gotten out there, I’m ready to go right back out and walk on that ice again . . . but I’ll have to wait. Today, the temps are rising into the 40s and it’ll be warm for several days so everything will change out there.
However, one thing we can always be sure of in this part of the world is that the day will come, probably sooner than later, when there will be ice on Lake Champlain. And when that happens, I’ll be ready to walk on it!
I’ve done something, however small, that I’ve been meaning to do. Have you?