Monday, February 8, 2010

Crossing Lakes

I don't know what's wrong with me. Or maybe it's what's right. Remember how I love to walk to the middle of the lake to feel the unjaded sun and, well, just to be there? The last two days I crossed two new bodies of water for the winter.

I crossed Copper Harbor on Saturday. But I will tell you about that one next.

Today I hoofed it to the neighbor's house, through the uneven snow, carrying a small gas heater and two mini propane tanks with no snowshoes on. Mostly uphill (of course). I sweated and swore as I remembered my questions to myself just before I left: "Snowshoes or no snowshoes? Snowshoes or no snowshoes? Eh, it's a short walk. No snowshoes." Dumb, dumb, dumb. All I could think was how I wish I had my snowshoes, so that walk -- as short as it was supposed to be -- didn't make me so angry with myself.

With that said, I decided to take Lake Lily back home. The snow was nice and even on her, and I saw snowshoe tracks going across it the day before. I would be safe and not so ornery as I was on land. Plus, I hadn't crossed her yet this year.

She was a beauty. Smooth, calm and white. It really was a treat to be out there. It didn't look like much else had been there except the coyotes. Because the shore by where the creek runs in to the Harbor wasn't frozen, I stayed north like the other tracks did, and made it safely to land.

Saturday's experience wasn't just new for this winter, it was new to my life. Please swallow any food you may be chewing.

I had to cross the Harbor. I just had to! There was my shortcut to the lighthouse calm before me, and my curiosity just ached to take me there. Straight there. The big lake had been calm for at least four days before that, so I knew the ice had to be solid. No creaking sounds on my end!

I skipped along over the butting ice peaks and slippery knobs that made up the frozen harbor. It was in no way smooth sailing. I almost tripped a couple times. And every time I was unsure about the conditions below my feet, I would scratch the snow off the surface and check the ice thickness. Looks good, I'd tell myself, and carry on.

I would look over at my neighbor Sharon's and wonder if she could see me out there. I actually wished I would have told her I was traversing the harbor just in case I, um, was suddenly not above the ice. But, nope. Just Duce knew I was out there, and he lead the way full force: sniffing, scratching and eating the ice.

Then I stopped in my tracks when I heard the wind. There it was again. And again. Completely rhythmic. Only, it wasn't the wind. Oh, no. It was the lake. Undulating under my feet. Under my feet? At that moment I actually thought how I have admired this sound as the ice knocks into each other while I am on the shore, but I have never heard that sound while I was on that ice. I felt my pulse in my neck. My temperature must have risen 2 degrees.

Oh. My. God. Don't panic. You're almost to the shore. It can't be that deep here. You're still standing on solid ice. You can't see through it. Take that line straight across. Yes, that one. Straight to the shore. Quick and light. Quick and light. Go, go, go!!!

Twenty yards later I was at the shore. On solid rocks. Wooooooooooooo hooooooooooooo! I shouted, grateful to be alive. We made it! We made it indeed.

Good thing we crossed at that spot because thirty yards from where I was standing, closer to the lighthouse dock, the ice was, well, um, to put it quite bluntly, the ice was not there at all. And today it has receded even closer to the east with more open water in between. So I won't be going out there until it fills back in. Maybe a good, solid week after it fills back in. Yes. That would be the smart thing to do.

As for the rest of my adventure on that February 6th, 2010, well, that's going in my Copper Harbor book. I'm sure you don't want to hear about another risk I took out on Lake Superior right now. I'll let you float on that one for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment