So the other day Lake Champlain froze over. For those not familiar with the lake, it’s pretty damn big. It spans two states and two nations. There are enough islands to form an entire county. It has its own climate. It was once the sixth Great Lake. And it used to freeze over every year.
See, used to be that when the lake didn’t freeze, people freaked out. On a February day in 1932, boats could actually sail from one side to the other. Not a single living person could remember that ever happening before. These days, though, thick ice is something of a novelty. In the past two decades, the lake froze over, or “closed,” only seven times.
Today was number eight.
This is apparently so bizarre that it made news in San Francisco.
Boy, do I have some pictures for you folks.
I climbed down the pier onto three-foot-thick ice, and instantly got a view of Burlington you can’t normally walk to.
The Spirit of Ethan Allen is a local tour boat. Their service was somewhat limited today.
It was really bizarre…
…to just walk around…
…to the other side of the boat.
I couldn’t tell where the land ended and the lake began.
A few other brave souls were out there with me.
The ice was so thick in places that construction vehicles operated on it. While we joked about walking across the lake, others drove there.
Here’s the marina, only slightly less in use than it would otherwise be.
Looking across to the Adirondacks:
Normally, ferries shuttle people and cars across the lake to Plattsburgh. Not today.
My ultimate goal was the breakwater, a long chain of rocks that protects our little harbor from the weather and currents of the lake. Past that, the ice wasn’t entirely trustworthy. This of course didn’t stop me, but I’m not proud to admit how far out my actual goal was.
Along the way, I met the nicest little couple. We’d stepped onto the ice at about the same time, and walked more or less together towards the breakwater.
When we got to the breakwater, I took their picture and they took mine.
Past that frozen chain of rocks lay the wasteland. Instead of the nice, smooth ice of the sheltered harbor, the lake beyond the breakwater had frozen into jutting chunks and uneven footing. I wanted to reach the halfway point, but soon discovered that would probably leave me too hospitalized or dead to upload these photos later. See, I care about you guys.
The breakwater was completely unrecognizable:
The ice covering the wall was surprisingly thick and chunky.
I began the walk back only to find that my two lovely companions were halfway there already.
Looking back at that great hill Burlington was built on:
The Echo Science Center, a Lake Champlain-oriented museum that I can’t say I’ve ever seen from this angle:
And with that, I slipped and skidded back up the hill and back to work. I’m not going to narrate that part of my day.