January 5, 2011

Ice skating conditions on Lake Mendota today...

... after yesterday's sun on clear black ice, it's hard to tell that thing is the sun and the ice is powdered over with snow:



It was a bit unnerving to skate so far from shore without the visual confirmation of the thickness of the ice that we had yesterday. But the ice couldn't have melted since yesterday. Could it? What was that strange pinging sound, like the lake was a tight-stretched drum and some unseen hand was dropping boulders on it somewhere in the distance?

42 comments:

Drew said...

That strange pinging sound is what ice-covered lakes do as they crack and freeze and crack and freeze.

The memory of that sound instantly brings me back to childhood evenings ice-fishing with my father.

Selah

peter hoh said...

Yep, what Drew said.

Unnerving, but not necessarily unsafe.

Know your lake. Talk to some old-timers.

FWIW, spring fed lakes sometimes have areas of thin ice that stay thin. Rivers are notoriously unsafe.

There is an inexpensive safety device that can save your life. I'll poke around and see if I can find it.

peter hoh said...

Here it is: Pick of Life.

Hagar said...

If you do go through, swim back up to the hole and use your elbows to knock down the edges until you can't anymore, then ease yourself onto the ice seal-fashion and scoot along flat on your stomach until you think the ice might be strong enough to stand on again.

Hagar said...

60 going on 15.

Rialby said...

Russian sub. It IS the People's Republic of Madison.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

"But the ice couldn't have melted since yesterday. Could it?"

For the answer to that you could pay with your life. Being a Long Islander we never, ever get freezes where the ice is safe. I'm often reminded of a winter trip my wife and I took to Maine where we just meandered on country roads and came to a frozen lake and pulled up to the shoreline cautiously, enjoying the scene, when locals roared down the road and just drove out on the lake like it was Interstate 495!

They knew! I marveled at that.

edutcher said...

Nice to see the, uh, protective helmet, also a covering for your face. And, if something worries you, listen to that voice that tells you to back off.

There really is a difference between brave and foolhardy.

I'm assuming Mr Meade called to you and brought you back. Good for him.

We certainly don't want to lose you this close to your become a sexy sexagerian

AST said...

You were aware that water expands when it freezes, no? That why lakes freeze at the surface but not at the bottom; ice floats. So as ice develops it's expanding, creating stress that causes it to creak and crackle.

It's also why ice gets pushed up around the shore.

Pete said...

I wish you'd confine your skating to a rink. I've dragged for bodies.

bagoh20 said...

Could Meade promise to post Ann's final outing on the ice including the sudden plop through the ice and his well practiced yet seemingly spontaneous epilogue next to the hole as her hat slowly sinks like the Titanic. He could end with: "And so my love is lost, and my lesson learned. The ice always wins."

vza said...

The Last Frost Fair on the Thames River

"During a mini ice age two hundred years ago, the winters were so cold that the river Thames would freeze in solid sheets of ice. The last time this event occurred was in 1814. The old London Bridge was bulkier than the new London Bridge built in 1823, and it acted like a dam, blocking the sluggish currents and allowing the water to ice over. After the new bridge was built and the old one was demolished, and after embankments were erected (which narrowed the river channel), the river flowed too swiftly for the waters to freeze."

http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/the-last-frost-fair-on-the-thames-river/

MnMark said...

I think it's crazy to skate out on a lake like that. Doesn't matter if you're an old-timer or not. My best friend from Norway's 70+ year old father thought he knew all about skating on lakes, went out skating by himself, and fell through the ice and died.

Not worth the risk. Too much unpredictability out on a lake like that.

bagoh20 said...

No matter what Meade, this blog must continue. I hope you are up for it. Cruel Neutrality!

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm assuming Mr Meade called to you and brought you back. Good for him."

He was the one skating far out. He skated all the way across the lake (as we did together yesterday). I was staying close to the shore. He wanted me to go farther out.

peter hoh said...

MNMark, there's a difference between assuming that you know about skating on lakes and knowing the lake you skate on.

Meade said...

We're being very careful... while having a blast. The ice is at least 5" thick.

David said...

The pinging is the ice cap shifting slightly, though wave action, wind or currents. The ice acts like a amplifier in a stereo. It can also present as a moaning sound. A mountain lake near where I once lived in Pennsylvania would moan and sigh all winter/

1jpb said...

"He skated all the way across the lake"

Who cares?

I'm sure the 100 k (rigorous terrain) biker could swim it (during summer). That would be a challenge, but not this skate-palooza,

Althouse could kayak alongside.

BTW, would some cons consider Madison to be a hell? If so, it'd be noteworthy that it's frozen over.

David said...

MnMark said...
"I think it's crazy to skate out on a lake like that."

Then you would not like the parts of Wisconsin where people drive trucks out on the ice towing wooden fishing shelters. Some of them have wood or kerosene stoves. They build little villages on the ice and drink and fish during the coldest parts of the winter.

At the lake in Pennsylvania I mentioned, townspeople build an ice block runway down a steep hill for toboggans. One a good day with the right wind you can skid half a mile on the lake.

MadisonMan said...

You all should stop worrying about falling through the ice. They have a highway up in Bayfield to Madeleine Is. It's winter, it's cold, the ice is nice and thick. I don't worry until mid-February rolls around and the sun angle starts to get high-ish.

bagoh20 said...

"I've dragged for bodies."

Titus, is that you?

Titus said...

When I see you skating on that ice I think of that scene in that Nicole Kidman movie where she is buried in the ice. I loved that movie.

Be careful Helen. And I love the shots by Meadsy Poo.

Why isn't anyone else out there?

bagoh20 said...

The finest most advanced ship of all time. She's unsinkable.

MnMark said...

Peter Hoh: My friend's father had been skating on that lake in Norway all his life. He was confident he knew all about ice and thickness and what was safe. And he died because he hit a patch where he was wrong about what he thought he knew. People fall through lakes every winter. You can take your chances, but I can't see how it's worth it for a little skating fun. Skate on a rink.

The Crack Emcee said...

What was that strange pinging sound, like the lake was a tight-stretched drum and some unseen hand was dropping boulders on it somewhere in the distance?

It was me, laughing. Careful, sweetie, your good sense is starting to kick in and that's so unlike you.

Be bold.

Be daring.

Be a chump for no good reason.

Beware What You Want (You Just Might Get It)

Steve said...

At the lake in Pennsylvania I mentioned, townspeople build an ice block runway down a steep hill for toboggans. One a good day with the right wind you can skid half a mile on the lake.

Eagles Mere! I used to go there as a child with my family or our scout troop and ride the toboggans. I've been back a few times since but not recently. Hiking back up the hill with that big wooden sled was not fun though. At least a warm cup of hot chocolate was waiting at the top of the hill when you got there.

HDHouse said...

Oh just strap on those republican skates and push off into the mist...thin ice be damned.

Pogo said...

...that strange pinging sound...

"And the ice talks to the river
And the geese talk to themselves"

Pogo said...

"...those republican skates"

I suppose that means you actually own them, and didn't just take from your neighbor's grandson.

peter hoh said...

MnMark, okay, you win the round re. the Norwegian. That he was familiar with his lake was not clear in your first comment. It's also true that some knowledge creates false confidence -- and skating alone is probably not a good idea.

It's still the case that there are lakes and conditions when it is safe to be out on the ice.

peter hoh said...

Pogo, I went looking for the song from which those lyrics came. This came up as the third result on Google.

Pogo said...

Ha!
No one else must like it much. Or else John Gorka's appeal is just 'more selective'.

Follow the link, though; it's real perty.
That particular lyric grabs me.

Pogo said...

And hey, your post is just after mine on the same link. Wooo-ee-ooo. Kevin Bacon must figure in here somewhere.

peter hoh said...

Nueske Bacon.

Pogo said...

Mmmmm ....baaacon.

And Amazon sells Nueske bacon burgers! Hot damn.

Robert Burnham said...

Weekend video to watch: Never Cry Wolf.

There's a great ice/lake scene which will linger in your memory.

Original Mike said...

I used to hike from my house near Olbrich Park to downtown across Lake Monona all the time. You do have to steer clear of MG&Es waste water outlet, but other than that, once the ice thickens it's perfectly safe.

Those ice pick things Peter suggested are a good idea, though. Simple insurance.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think it's crazy to skate out on a lake like that. Doesn't matter if you're an old-timer or not. My best friend from Norway's 70+ year old father thought he knew all about skating on lakes, went out skating by himself, and fell through the ice and died. Not worth the risk. Too much unpredictability out on a lake like that."

I got email about that comment:

"The Norwegian skater wasn't as smart as he thought he was because ice claws would have saved his life. And that's a good thing the ice is "talking". Ice is always changing and I love to hear it making noise. It wasn't making noise last Sunday and a big expansion crack suddenly appeared. Here's my spiel on being on the ice in Madison. Yes, we take a risk, but WE decide to take the risk. We are responsible for our own selves. For me, the most free I feel in Madison is in the middle of a lake in winter."

The writer is into ice boating: "One of my biggest fears is that Dane county or Madison will try to regulate ice boating. It's such a tough sport to begin with that any regulation will kill it. About 20 years ago, the newly created county "Lakes Patrol" sheriff lobbied for some laws that would have given him the power to tell us when and where we can sail and that ice boats have to have lights on them, etc. Thankfully, we had a lot of public support at the hearings and the regulation was averted."

There will be lots of cool ice boats out on Lake Mendota this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There's a good chance I'm going to take an ice boat ride myself! Watch for pics.

Ice safety hints here.

Original Mike said...

I had a friend with a one-seater ice boat and we would take it out on Lake Mendota. It was a blast. Highly recommended.

David said...

Steve said...

Eagles Mere!

Jackpot, Steve. Would you like to continue Pennsylvania Geography for $200?

David said...

Ice Boating is no more dangerous that brats, cheese and beer. They just take longer to hurt you.