Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Skating Lake Superior

I never know what each day has in store for me, but the discovery of thick smooth ice on Lake Superior brought an idea to mind. At work, we had already talked of mounting bindings on our nordic skates, and the discovery of ice solidified the decision. Nordic skates are long ice blades that you can mount cross country ski bindings on. You can thereby use these skates to mimic cross country skiing. So today my buddy called me up to let me know he had mounted the demo skates, and was going to go for a spin...and flew down in my car to do the same. When I strapped on the skates it was a blast. With ski poles and the skates you could get moving blazing fast! However, skating over 6 inches of ice and clearly seeing the bottom of Lake Superior was kind of scary and fascinating all at once. So I took off...The thing about skating on Lake Superior ice is that the big lake has created all sorts of cracks, ripples, and rifts for one to dodge (not to mention the rocks people throw onto the ice near shore). So on my maiden voyage I made it about 2 miles before I reached a giant rift. The rift had managed to let some water up... so there was about a foot of water on top of the ice near the edges of it. It looked impassible, so I cruised back to the shop. (story continued below...but check out the video in the meantime!)

The Rift

The Maiden Voyage

So with the excitement of it all I had to go for one last spin before the sun went down. As I got down and put on the skates, another fellow on nordic skates cruised. With him as my guide we made our way toward the impassible rift. He was an older gentleman, and had explained his extensive adventures on the ice thus far and extrapolated his need for elbow, knee and hip pads as a result of his experience with the ice. So we made our way along a different route, approaching the rift near the ice houses parked along side it. So we asked the fishermen if they found a way across...and they directed us towards one small crossing. My new found companion went first crossing the seemingly harmless gap. As I crossed my left foot broke through!!! Moving fairly quickly, my foot and ankle took more of an in and out swim for only a brief moment. My boot being waterproof, we continued on our way. My companion decided had decided he'd turn back, and I bid him a good day while I continued onward.

The Second Voyage

I made it across more rifts, finding great ice. However, near the Lester River seeing another sketchy rift, observing my frozen boot, and hearing the crackling boom of the ice naturally wits got the best of me. I turned back and cruised homeward. As the sun set the horizon aglow, I stepped off the lake with a huge smile on my face......and a little more bounce in my step.

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