Lake Champlain And The Large Amount Of Ice That Covers It

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.

. Not this one. This is Reeses's Puffs.

.
Not this one. This is Reese’s Puffs.

I climbed down the pier onto three-foot-thick ice, and instantly got a view of Burlington you can’t normally walk to.

. On a typical day, this photo would be substantially wetter.

.
On a typical day, this photo would be substantially wetter.

The Spirit of Ethan Allen is a local tour boat. Their service was somewhat limited today.

. Normally it's rather more mobile.

.
“And on the left you’ll see exactly the same thing you saw two hours ago.”

It was really bizarre…

IMG_1674

…to just walk around…

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…to the other side of the boat.

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I couldn’t tell where the land ended and the lake began.

IMG_1686

A few other brave souls were out there with me.

. And one dog.

.
And one dog.

The ice was so thick in places that construction vehicles operated on it. While we joked about walking across the lake, others drove there.

. Bumper crop of ice this year, yessuh.

.
Bumper crop this year, yessuh.

Here’s the marina, only slightly less in use than it would otherwise be.

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Looking across to the Adirondacks:

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Normally, ferries shuttle people and cars across the lake to Plattsburgh. Not today.

They're somewhat redundant at this point anyway.

.
They’re somewhat redundant at this point.

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.

Adorable elderly couples make my day better than a calendar or the rising/setting cycle of the sun.

.
Adorable elderly couples make my day more easily than a calendar or the rising/setting cycle of the sun.

When we got to the breakwater, I took their picture and they took mine.

IMG_1709

.
“Take-the-picture-Take-the-picture-It’s-so-ridiculously-cold-Take-the-picture…”

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.

And think of the tragic loss to my Facebook photo albums.

.
And think of the tragic loss to my Facebook photo albums.

The breakwater was completely unrecognizable:

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. It normally just looks like a long pile of rocks and concrete.

.
Normally, it just looks like a long pile of rocks and concrete.

The ice covering the wall was surprisingly thick and chunky.

.
Like a good chowder.

.  "Anyone got a really big scotch glass?"

.
“Anyone got a really big scotch glass?”

I began the walk back only to find that my two lovely companions were halfway there already.

. "Ten bucks says that kid fell through the ice by now."

.
“Ten bucks says that kid fell through the ice by now.”

Looking back at that great hill Burlington was built on:

. We call it "The Inconveniencer."

.
We call it “The Inconveniencer.”

The Echo Science Center, a Lake Champlain-oriented museum that I can’t say I’ve ever seen from this angle:

IMG_1742One final goodbye to the Spirit of Ethan Allen:

IMG_1743

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.

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6 responses to “Lake Champlain And The Large Amount Of Ice That Covers It

  1. Helpful Hint: I actually wrote this a few days ago. You can still walk out on the ice if you want, but it will be rather a soggier experience.

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