The original hope had been to walk all the way across Lake Champlain from one state (Vermont) to another (New York). It was the perfect winter for it: the coldest we'd had in years. But the weekend we'd slated for our walkover we were peppered with warnings that the ice was beginning to crack. So, we adjusted accordingly. Even in warmer years when the Lake doesn't freeze over as it did in 2014 it almost always freezes in the area of the Champlain Islands, so we headed north to the venerable Hero's Welcome, a Vermont institution that is part deli, part general store, part sports equipment rental and one hundred percent local landmark. It stands directly across the road from Lake Champlain and Knight Island.
|Looking back at Hero's Welcome and the town of North Hero from the skating oval|
We parked our car there, and got ready to try out the newest addition to our winter sport collection: Microspikes. In case anyone has been on the fence on buying these guys, I'd say do it. They are fantastic! Walking on ice-- whether it's flat as it was that day, or alarmingly steep as it was when we put them to use on some rock climbing approaches a few weeks later in Boulder, Colorado -- is a million times easier when wearing Microspikes.
|Trusty Microspikes! Throw these babies on and your feet will stick to the iciest surface you can imagine. They may look strange but they sure do work.|
|Jon, ready to embark on our two mile walk on (frozen) water. Note both walking poles (which were not used) and yoga mat (which was).|
People who've known me for a long time know that I have a tendency to pack light (for many years I had a personal rule of limiting myself to a single carry-on bag as luggage for any trip -- international or otherwise -- of three weeks or less). But I have to admit that Jon has had an influence on me in that regard, and now I do see the value of preparing for more eventualities.
|Me. looking rather rotund and happy in the lean-to, after eating some soup that Jon had just cooked on our campstove.|
|Balancing postures are appropriate for all occasions, right?|
|Starting the two mile trek back|
On this particular jaunt across the lake, we weren't sure what mood might hit us, so we brought cooking equipment, frozen food (that part was easy!) and yoga mats, all of which got pressed into use when we set up in one of the lean-tos on Knight Island for lunch, some stretching and one last chance to appreciate the glorious cold sunshine that was one of the better aspects of the harsh winter that was 2014. I am going predict (and hope) that the winter of 2015 won't be as cold, nor as long as the winter of 2014 was. But even if it's not, the odds are good that the lake between North Hero and Knight Island will freeze. When it does, you could do worse than spending an afternoon walking on water between the two. I might even lend you my Microspikes.