If you go out on the ice today, I hope you come back alive.

waterfall[sing it to the tune of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic] There are probably a lot of news stories out there on them thar tubes about the fishermen that got stranded on a gigantic ice floe in Lake Erie. This one has links to video coverage, which is worth checking out just to hear the sheriff say how stupid those folks were. I dunno. I am not an expert on lake ice but I’ve lived on lakes in the Great Lake State all my life. Those folks were probably safe enough from falling *through* the ice out there. It was a couple feet thick after all. But I’m not sure how they figgered on getting back to shore with 100 yards (or whatever) of open water between their floe and the ice that was attached to the shore. Honestly, if you are on a great lake and there is a crack that is a foot wide and stretches as far as the eye can see, it is not a smart thing to make a bridge out of a pallet or whatever and drive your snowmo across it. Kee-reist. That is open water, folks. Wind? It’s a *lake*. A *great* lake. It gets windy! Yes. A lot of those people left expensive snow-mos, ATVs and other stuff out there on that ice floe. A mining opportunity?

I’m sure I’ve blathered a time or two or three about rather cavalierly going out on the ice on various lakes, usually Houghton Lake because I possess a key to a heated building right there on its shore. You have to know that we are careful about ice. Houghton Lake is — usually — a known quantity for us. You can use an ice auger to measure how thick the ice is and you can — usually — trust the old-timers up there to tell you where there might be thin or soft spots. When the ice is a couple feet thick and the temperature has been in the deep freeze for a couple of months, the ice is really pretty safe. Usually.

Why does she keep saying, “usually”, y’all are wondering (if y’all have gotten this far through the blather). Winter 2003. MLK Weekend? I think? It was a cold winter a lot like this one has been, maybe a little less snow. Mouse drove us into the yard at Houghton Lake on Friday night and we found ourselves squinting at a large poster or something plastered onto the garage. What was this? Well. In spite of the fact that the ice should have been thick over the entire surface of the lake, there were large holes of OPEN WATER! Two snowmobilers had hit one of those and drowned… The GG went in and turned on the furnace and we took a little ride down to the end of the point while the furnace warmed up. Emergency lights everywhere! The ice boat was just returning from an unsuccessful attempt at searching for those snowmobilers. Our wonderful neighbors had plastered that large poster on our garage to warn us.

I’m not sure if an official explanation was ever offered for the open water. One theory I remember hearing was that it could have been caused by an herbicide for the invasive species Eurasian milfoil. I dunno. This year has been a wonderful year for snowmobiling and ice-fishing on our lakes, both the great lakes and inland. But you can *never* be too careful!!!

We walked down at our favorite urban hiking site, Barton Dam, today. The walking was really pretty bad. A thin layer of ice topping snow trodden by many human and dog feet. We managed but we didn’t quite do our usual entire walk. A few pics here or click on the pic. WE DID NOT GO OUT ON THE ICE!!!

6 Responses to “If you go out on the ice today, I hope you come back alive.”

  1. Dog Mom Says:

    You & I are on the same brain-wave re the Lake Erie Ice Floe Morons! I, too, Tweeted the CNN article about that… in full agreement with the Sheriff’s assessment of the marshmallow-brained organisms that got themselves stranded … on PURPOSE (hey, if they made themselves a “bridge”, it WAS on purpose: a deliberate action taken to put themselves in that predicament).

    And apologies to those marshmallows and morons who have far more common sense than those goombas who got themselves into that heap o’ trouble.

  2. gg - trainer of new drivers Says:

    The the fourth pic includes the usual Mallard ducks.
    The flock also includes Redhead ducks – note the blue bills.
    Among the flock of ducks was at least one Canvasback duck.
    I’m sure I also saw a Grebe in submarine mode.
    We ate duck for dinner!

  3. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Would you believe that I saw a news report on T.V Monday morning (2/8/09) about some of the dumb people that were stranded. They went back out there on Sunday to get their fishing gear and other equipment. Some of them even went fishing.

  4. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Oops! I’m having so much fun here in Indianapolis that I mixed up my dates. Today (Monday) is the 9th of February.

  5. Margaret Says:

    I read that story and thought of you! Your photos are beautiful; I was going to say–oh, it doesn’t look THAT cold…then I got to the last ones.

  6. grandmothertrucker Says:

    Some friends of mine used to live at Houghton Lake. They confirmed what I have heard over the years…. EVERY year, snowmobilers go through the ice down by the point and die. The most common reason is that the water current is so strong around the point, and the water does not freeze as well there. Then when the water thaws, they have to drag out the machines before boats hit them.

    Out here on Lake Ste.Claire, by Selfrige AFB, they made bumper stickers for cars years ago.. ” SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SEARCH AND RESCUE, GET LOST! ” If you go out on the ice AFTER they post warnings not to, YOU have to pay for your rescue.