Monday, February 04, 2008

You Can't Go Home Again
(if the ice shifts)

I was all set to paddle yesterday. It would have marked my glorious return to the big lake. But, alas, while getting ready to leave my home, I bent over and felt that warning twinge in my lower back. Having experienced I don't know how many episodes of crippling back spasms I judged it best not to try to move a kayaking up and down ice shelves. Still, I could go down to Bradford Beach and do some photography.

I waited for the three paddlers I knew were out there and out of sight (I counted cars with racks on them). After awhile, they appeared from the north, and they were making slow progress. It was then that I turned around to discover the wind was building from the south. That's when I heard the slush and sheets of the ice off shore grinding and rubbing as the entire mess tried to move north. Large berg-type formations trapped them where they were.It took Sherri, JB and Bob a good while to find a path and to paddle and pole their way to somewhere that they could use to get on shore. Eventually, they each took a run at a near shore shelf and paddled onto terra freezum.
(JB in his Explorer...note video set
up on fore deck)
This has happened to us before when the weather forecast (read: best guess...but I digress) did not warn of a shift in winds. Turns out that getting in to and on to the lake is a lot easier than getting out. Later, over coffee and soup, I learned that the last few miles of their trip was a matter of picking and plowing a path back to the launch site. As we watched JB's video (he carries an entire theater set up with him), I realized that, had things gotten worse, the three of them could have ended up needing rescue. Then, even more folks would have been put at risk.
Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

Actually, had we not been able to get in at Bradford due to the ice shift, my plan was to paddle back out to semi-liquid water, then continue south to the break wall in front of McKinley,my thought being that with the wind from the south there would be less ice along the north face of the wall.

Another option would be to go to the main gap of the harbor and hope that a large ship has recently cut a path for us.

Another option would have been to clip our tow ropes together, Bob swim to shore with one end of the rope and pull Sherri and I to shore.

It was a great day on a Great Lake!

DaveO said...

Great shots. I've always wanted to paddle in the ice but never hit it quite right. My guess is the ice road to Madeline Island is in use now. Hitting the breakup in Chequamagon Bay would be a great way to start the season but I've always worried about the 'not getting back to shore' syndrome. Many a spring ice fisherman has headed to Canada and had to be rescued when the wind shifted.

Stan Mac Kenzie said...

Great shots. Something about ice that makes a kayak look as if it is in its' "right" environ.