Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walkin' on Water- Yikes!

Now I am sure that a bunch of Northwoods natives will get the urge to make fun of me for saying this, but I am REALLY pretty afraid to walk on frozen lakes.  I am from Southern WI, and I never in my life walked on a frozen lake until I was about 20- when I went cross-country skiing with the Mad-Accountant-to-be and some of his friends.  We were somewhere over in the Eau Claire area, and I was a newbie skier.  I had already biffed out on a big (probably tiny) hill and was working HARD to keep up with the rest of them.  And somewhere along the line it was brought to my attention that we were skiing on a lake.

WHAT?????  Are you people freaking nuts???  But, as you know we do stupid things when we are young and trying to impress the nice young man who happened to buy me cross-country skis for Christmas the first year I knew him!  (That is probably the most thought he EVER put into a Christmas present for me, but I digress).

Anyway, I kind of try to avoid actually walking on frozen lakes.  It is sort of unnatural.  Unreasonable.  Unimaginable even. And as far as driving onto a frozen body of water-- now that is kind of insane.  And did you know that people actually build FIRES on the ICE???  But when in the frozen north and you are looking for new subjects to photograph, combined with a need to get a good workout in, you do what you gotta do!  As I said in my earlier post today, it was gorgeously sunny this morning and I needed to be OUT in it.  I just crave the sun during the winter, and when it is shining it calls my name.  Yeah, I know, pretty cool that the sun knows my name!!  So I made a plan to walk down to the boat landing, otherwise known as Smith Creek County Park.

Now, I've lived in this house for 32 years and I have never walked there before.  It is only 1.5 miles from my house to the end of the road- however a year ago I had a different outlook on the distance and time it takes to get there.  1.5 miles in NOTHING for me anymore, after all, yesterday I did go on a 5.5 mile jaunt and did it with little trouble.  So I was babbling away in a similar manner to the Mad-Accountant about my plans, picturing slogging through the snow to get some alternate view points around the area, thinking about how different everything will look now at this time of the year.  Maybe get some shots of ice shacks if I can see them- you know- see what I can find.  And he says to me: "Well you know you have to go out onto the ice and get some reverse shots of the landing!"  Uh yeah, I was thinking the same thing..... GULP.  NOOOOOO!!!!!  RATS!!!  Of course I have to do that, especially since that gauntlet has (unwittingly on his part) been thrown.

On my way down to the end of the road, I sent a quick text to Middle-Son Greg and asked him if there is any place I should AVOID (read where might I accidentally fall in) when walking out on the sketchily frozen lake.  I want you to know, as I already knew, that there is in the neighborhood of 14 inches of ice down on that flowage- and apparently ice can hold 100 pounds per inch.....  Like that makes me feel any better.  So while I was really enjoying my walk, and snapping some pictures, I was thinking about the stupid ice.  That is until I saw the wolf tracks.....

Yes, wolf tracks.  I generally do not go into remote areas alone as there are wolves around and the occasional cougar, but seriously I do not get too worked up about them.  And when I saw the tracks, I figured there was plenty of traffic around, so the animals probably won't be around.  Of course I only saw one truck go by me on the way down.  Thanks a lot, people!!  Regardless, I had other, colder things on my mind.  I was wanting to do a little running, but the road was really snowy and yesterday I had slid a lot on the road.  Don't need to fall and break something!

Meanwhile, why in the heck is #2 son NOT texting me back??  So I get to the boat landing and it is so beautiful!  What a gorgeous, gorgeous day.....  the clouds are big and poofy, the sun is so bright, the snow has barely been disturbed by ugly, nasty deer or large carnivores of any sort!  Lovely.  I get right down to the shore and there I stop.  It is actually plowed!  There is an honest-to-God road on the lake, it shows me right where I can go and avoid any gaping holes that are undoubtedly hidden (really, if you avoid the river channel, apparently there are no gaping holes) beneath the snow.   Okfine.  So I walked out onto that ice and while I was having mini panic attacks and started shivering a bit, I managed to walk a little way out and then turn around.  My fears were distracted by seeing some of the gorgeous trees in reverse.  The massive white pine that guards the landing, the unique white birches that have a gnarled appearance from being perched at the edge of the lake, the trees that are drooping out over the water, seen from a new angle.  This is why I pushed myself out onto the frozen lake- I knew it held some magic that I needed to see.  I went out quite a way- maybe a quarter of a mile or a little more, as every time I looked I saw new things or familiar things in a new way.  There was also a little mini village of fishing huts and an occasional lone shack dotting the ice.  Great photo material!

Whew, well that was fun, time to head BACK to good old terra firma!!  I then walked over to the park area and shot the pavilion and the beach area.  By them time I finished my hands were frozen little ice cubes as those gloves had come off for picture taking somewhere on the ice.  As I was striding back along the driveway towards Omaha Road, all of a sudden there was a car with a dog (that looked like a wolf )next to it!  It was a local woman, who has an adorable husky, and she runs her dog next to the car for exercise.  She has a hard time maneuvering in the winter I think, and so this helps get the dog some much needed time outdoors.  Anyway, I laughed to myself thinking that this whole time it was the Husky tracks I saw and not a wolf!!  A little while later, when she turned her car around and was heading back (Smith Lake is at the end of a dead-end road) she stopped to chat for a moment.  She, of course, then tells me that one of my neighbors had an encounter with a wolf a few weeks before.  The neighbor had a dog with her and the wolf did not back down.  She ended up going to a house down the road to get a ride home!  This is about a quarter mile down the hill from my house.....  sigh.

I got home with out incident, I was aware of my surroundings, but NOT scared of the wolf.  I did however, do a little running on the way home, the gravel portion of Omaha Rd is not slippery right now!  Who knew?  The wind was nasty on the way home- I checked the temp. and it was 8 degrees!  That would explain the frozen fingers.  AND the # 2 son texted me AFTER I got home.  Encouraged me to avoid the river channel and maybe the very edges of the lake....  like I would have a clue where the river channel was, but that's ok- the lake was plowed!  Ha!!

So here are the results of today's adventure... most of the adventure actually took place only in my own imagination!  It was right next to the spot that was full of joy!

The beginning of the walk- our field behind the house

While logging really destroys the beauty, you CAN see a long way!  

Snow mobile trail

White pines guarding the entrance to the lake

Waiting for summer visitors

A road is plowed!

Looking back at shore

Ice shacks

Ice village

Park area

Pavilion patterns

Abstract shadows

Off shore ice shacks

The low winter sun makes some wonderful effects

On the way home

Great hills to walk

And all this before 10 in the morning!!  I hope your Sunday was as joyful as mine....  More to come!


  1. As I read through this, I began wondering if Deb knows how talented she is. I expect to see all of this in a book(s) one day. You give so much joy to those of us who read your blog. Thank you, Deb.

  2. Wow, thanks Nettie! I only write like I think I talk, but maybe slightly more organized.... That is so sweet.

  3. I love the photos! Sure makes me miss my camera...thanks for sharing them :o)

  4. Of course the sun knows your name! You guys have that whole namesake thing going on. I enjoyed the read Sunshine>

  5. Breathtaking! What a beautiful area you live in.