Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Skating the Lake

As much as there are some paddlers who will seek and find whatever liquid surface remains on the lake through the winter, there is the flip side.... people who relish the frozen surface, maybe hiking to alpine ponds in search of skateable ice in October.

We just had a few days of cold weather, one morning clocking in at minus 20 to 30 F depending on where in the state.  I asked Phelps to let me know when there was some skateable ice in the islands, and the answer was now.

On the way I saw that there were already some ice fishing shacks out.

I was picturing putting on the hockey skates and whizzing around some area on the scale of an ice rink, or maybe a football field.  Things were mostly a little rough for that, plus why confine yourself?  We ended up using nordic skates, which are essentially speed skates with XC ski bindings and a bevel on the front to go over bumps.  They were the inspiration for the clapper skates now popular in long track speed skating.  I've used them once before, but only on a groomed oval.  I recall in that setting one good stride could take you a hundred yards.

It seemed like I was just here for a barbecue and it was 80 degrees.

First thing is getting down to lake level, then walking out to where the surface is a little smoother.

The horizontal dowel hanging from his neck is really 2 nested ice picks, which you use to haul yourself back on the ice in case you fall through a thin spot.

Much of the ice looked like this.  A couple of days ago these were loose floating chunks of ice, now encased in new clear ice.  I saw a fish swim by one of these "holes."

From Other2011

You  need to occasionally whack the clear sections with a pole to check the thickness.  Those familiar with the local tectonics know where the plates of ice are pulling apart (causing thin ice or open water) due to wind and the configuration of shore line.

The temperature is in the teens, but with the wind it feels like I'll be at that distant island (2.5 miles)  in about 5 minutes.  Seriously, just standing there the wind will blow you to some real speed, and we used a lot of the space visible here.

Unlike ski poles, these poles have no baskets, and have hard conical points that reliably grip the ice.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cool trip

Despite the zero degree morning Dave called for a paddle yesterday. Without the wind, it feels warmer :? Shelburne bay looks totally frozen up, but things are clear on the broad lake side of the point.

We went south, letting Dave play ice breaker on the thin stuff between Meach Island and shore. Turnaround point was a bit north of Charlotte town beach.

Lots of ducks about and at least one eagle (we saw a lot, but only one at a time, so might have been just one.)

One good thing about this weather is you can just drag your boat between the cars and the water.

From Kayak2011

This buoy was slowly turning. From a distance is was confusing as it was changing color between white and green.
Dave discovered that touching a buoy with a wet mitten in zero degree weather is like touching your tongue to a light pole (but not as painful). Not sure if he left any neoprene behind when he tore it off.

On those lines, I had to smash ice off the dry box to get it open (to get the camera). I had a lot of trouble getting it shut again and wasn't confident that it sealed well, so no more rolls after this picture.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

South Pole Centennial

Next antarctic summer marks the 100th anniversary of the race to the pole betwen Scott and Amundsen.

An article in today's NY Times describes the expected tourist boom at the pole, people arriving by plane, maybe skiing the last few miles, or trekking from the coast:

One event is a reenactment of the race, with teams following both routes.

A snip from one contestant's profile:

"He has never tried cross-country skiing, and he is not a big fan of cold weather, but he has been practicing by dragging two car tires on a rope for several hours at a time."

Sounds well prepared... but try dragging those tires 12-14 hours a day, and did anyone tell you the pole's at 10,000 feet?  So maybe breath through a straw while you're at it.

I want to know how far, physically, I can go,” said Mr. Elliott, who is paying about $95,000 to enter the competition, sponsored by a London-based company calledExtreme World Races. “It would be great to get there first and run the Union Jack at the South Pole before the Norwegians get there” 
One aspect (not mentioned in the article) that can't be reenacted is that the Norwegian team's effort was dependent on sled dogs, which are now banned on the continent.

There is a year round research station at the pole.  They may have to invest in a few signs.

Monday, January 03, 2011

End of the year paddling

Hmmm... I see I've been pretty slack on the blog lately, only one post since September, and it's not even about paddling.  I'll wrap a couple of trips into this post.

 Tom, Dave, and I went on our last trip of the fall on Dec 18 from Converse Bay and headed south.
Pretty much everything in splash range of the lake had some ice.


Including the the raft that set out on a round the world trip last month but wrecked on Thompson's Point about 15 miles into it.
This was the first time we'd been out that way since the incident. Article on wreck

Our planned endpoint was the mouth of Lewis Creek, in Hawkins Bay. The bay is already frozen in, so after a seal landing on the sheet and some hunting around for a passage, we headed home with the wind at our backs. On passing the wreck, we saw someone from the fire department who secured the raft to the cliff and tied some netting over the openings to keep more junk from ending up in the lake.  Some talk with him, and the pictures, ended up with a followup article in the paper with one of my pics on page 1! Burlington Free Press  OK, it's not the NY Times, but it is The Paper for about half the state.

The day after Christmas there was a wicked zero degree north wind, so the next time out, "splash range" was a lot higher.   Exposed shore/cliff had ice going up about 40 feet.

These are only about 5-6 feet, under an overhang

From Kayak2010

Tom decided that his iphone (with dry bag) makes a good paddling camera, so I'm not the only photographer anymore.  One of his: