The Intuition Of Youth - Walking On Ice

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Ken Anderson, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Perhaps I will be the only one who will be able to relate to this, and it might have more to do with a willingness to take chances or try things out but, when I was a kid, we always knew when the ice was thick enough to walk on, or skate on, yet as far as I am aware no one cut a hole in the ice in order to check the thickness of the ice. My dad had an ice augur that he used to drill holes in the ice for ice fishing, but we never used that to check the thickness of the ice, as they recommend today.

    Were we really that smart or were we really so careless?

    Yet no one that I was aware of ever fell through the ice, at least not at the beginning of the season. In the spring, we would intentionally walk on the ice on the (very small) river behind our house, practicing our ability to walk on ice that cracks beneath our feet. We would sometimes break through then, but the water was only a couple of feet deep in most places.

    But we seemed to know when the ice on the lakes was thick enough to hold our weight, and I don't recall anyone ever telling us when it was time.

    Yes, there was also such a thing as the recklessness of youth, I suppose. In one place, there was a hill alongside a lake. The lake had a stream flowing through it that was slow to freeze in the winter. We would sometimes toboggan off of the hill, gaining enough momentum to propel the toboggan across the open stream. That was scary, which is also why it was fun. If the head of the toboggan were to go into the open water rather than onto the ice on the other side of the stream, we would be under the ice, and the lake was more than a couple of feet deep. But that never happened. Of course, a toboggan is long, so as long as we kept our weight to the rear of the toboggan, the head would be up and, since the open stream was narrow, it wouldn't have to stay up long in order to be over, as long as we were going fast enough. People do much the same with snowmobiles, I think, but it doesn't always work out for them.

    Back on subject, today, at sixty-seven, I wouldn't know when the ice was thick enough for me to walk on it without checking first, or observing that other people were driving their snowmobiles on it.
     
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  2. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    When I lived in Bush Alaska, the Eskimo boys would hop from ice flow to ice flow as the river was breaking up to try to scavenge stuff floating down the river from upstream. It was very dangerous, but I don't recall any of them dropping into the water. We do occasionally get folks going through the ice in their vehicles. We get a lot of military families who come up here from the South who are fascinated with driving on the lakes. Guys I served with in the military wouldn't believe that we could actually drive on the lakes--they thought we were putting them on. We had an Air Force officer who came up here a few years ago who wanted to really get into the winter lifestyle. He bought a new Suburban, and two new snowmobiles with trailer, and headed out onto the largest lake around. There was an ice road, but, being new to 4x4 vehicles, he wanted to see how it would do in unplowed snow. Well, he got stuck a few times and managed to get himself out. Shore was closer than going back to the ice road, and he headed for shore. Unfortunately, he was near the outflow of the lake, and he dropped both his new Suburban and his trailer with the snowmobiles through the ice. Fortunately, he was near the outflow where the lake was shallow, and he managed to get himself, his wife, and his two children out the windows of the vehicle and the water was shallow enough that he and his family could stand on the roof and be mostly above water. A guy who lived along the lakeshore, spotted the poor people, and managed to rescue them and bring them into his cabin until rescue folks could arrive. I don't know what was salvageable from his adventure.

    When walking on lakes, we have a big "ice pick" which is a heavy metal rod with a 2" or 3"- wide blade on the end to check for ice safety. It is an adaptation of a wood and bone tool used by the natives in the old days to cut holes in the ice, etc. We use it as a walking stick, and it will usually break thought ice less than 3" thick, so thin ice can be avoided. On the snowmobiles, as long as there is ice and you are going fast enough, you usually don't fall through, but if you slow or stop for any reason, your ride is over.
     
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  3. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    I've never lived in any place where ice was like that but it's very interesting to hear about. The only ice I've had to break through was in the bird bath a couple of times these past few winters. :)
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Maybe if I had stayed in the UP of Michigan, I wouldn't have lost the ability to judge such things. Most of the people who go through the ice here in Maine are from somewhere else, or very drunk.
     
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    Growing up in the Chicago area, I distinctly remember hearing as a kid about someone going through the ice fairly often. Once during a cold-snap, I was venturing out on the frozen Des Plaines River on foot, and saw ahead a spot where the water was moving very fast beneath the ice, and a "ledge" had opened up revealing the ice had been at least a foot thick, but at that particular spot, moving water surface was visible. Shaken, I got away fast!
    Frank
     
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    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Country kids are smarter about that sort of thing, @Frank Sanoica.
     
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  7. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    I do like thick ice especially in the summer months when I am enjoying a good tea.
    Other than that, I enjoy watching ice skaters during the Olympics on TV even though I am pretty sure that they are skating on something a little less than a foot or two thick and I have been known to watch a hockey game or two even though I have no clue as to all of the rules.

    So far as wishing to walk across a river covered with it, naw, I didn't like it much when I was a kid in Iowa (a place we lived for a while) because I always seemed to land on my backside and I REALLY wouldn't care for it here in Alabama because..........well, just because.
     
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