Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Life on Northern Lakes

We were up north last week mainly to ski (and to eat!), but there was lots else going on on those northern lakes.  Even though it was cold, with lots of snow, the community is busy.  I've been going to that area for holidays off and on for 60 years, mainly in the summer, so it was interesting to see the place in winter.

By the last day of our visit, they'd had time to layout double tracks for cross-country skiing in a big loop on the lake.  Bitterly cold, but beautiful skiing; moving helps keep you warm a lot!  The very first cottage holiday I remember as a young child was down around the right hand corner of this lake, a long time ago!

There was ice fishing, though this lake is not known for its fish because it has so many cottages and boats in the summer - something I've never felt like trying, even with a heater to keep you warm inside that little hut.

There was downhill skiing within sight.  These are the snow-making machines running across the lake at Hidden Valley Resort.

And of course there are lots of snowmobiles, heading out on the long-distance, often groomed trails that snowmobilers love, taking them through the backwoods where few other people ever go.

It's a good time for fixing boathouses too.  These often aren't allowed at all any more, but the ones that exist do need repair sometimes, and in winter you can get your equipment right out on the ice, making the work easier than in summer.

On the lake the resort had an ice rink, and a wood stove.  I think this was just there to provide the atmosphere, and that wonderful tang of woodsmoke.  And maybe to warm up your hands after tying your skates.

Have you ever seen the cracks in the ice of a northern lake?  In this part of Ontario and further north, the lakes freeze over quite solidly, but the ice still often cracks, leaving narrow fissures like this one I skiid across.  The picture below is another one, this one on the rink, an ankle breaker if you ever got a skate blade caught in it.  

The interesting part is to hear the ice cracking.  On a cold night, if you poke your head outside you can hear the ice moaning, groaning and moving slightly, crushing ever so slightly against itself, almost like thunder in the distance.  And in early spring when the ice is breaking up, the lake will groan and moan quite loudly, sometimes pushing ice right up onshore.  All part of the atmosphere of those northern lakes.

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  1. I'm cold here, I can't imagine there! It has been cold enough here to freeze things up though.

  2. Terrific shots. I remember seeing some of the operations up at Hidden Valley at times during the season getting the hills groomed.

  3. Beautiful photos. We used to skate on the ponds at a local park and would hear the ice cracking. It always frightened me.

  4. Lovely shots of winter and ice. Hearing the ice cracking when I'm on it always gives me a bit of a scare.

  5. Great post ! love the wood stove, it is so heritage

  6. I'd be hanging out near that wood stove! I heard on the news last night that two ice fishermen on their four wheelers broke through the ice on Fort Peck Lake. One made it out - one didn't. So sad.

  7. The sound of the ice cracking always sent shivers down my spine, even when I knew how thick the ice was. I used to enjoy ice fishing very much, something I think I just grew out of. Winter sports are hard for me to enjoy this year with the extended cold temperatures and strong winds. I think I'm going to head into hibernation until spring :)

  8. I've never heard that sound before.
    The wood stove on the ice made me laugh.

  9. The southern people think Iowa is up north but you really truly live up north to us. It is just you are sharing all of your cold with us. Fun blog to visit.

  10. Wow--looks pretty but OH SO COLD. We have had a very cold month here in TN (with about 5 or more days going down below zero-F). That is SO RARE for us---and it's killing me. Guess I could never live in your area!!!!! ha

    Beautiful photos though.

  11. In Minnesota we call the lake sounds "Making Ice" and on a clear night the lake will be making lots of ice and singing all night long. I also love the sounds of the ice breakup in the spring and for a day or so when there are lots of ice crystals in the water it is like a million, maybe a billion little wind chimes.
    That is a nice sized fish house:)

  12. I don't live close enough to water to hear the ice on a regular basis, but I've heard it.