Open Water on Pelican Lake

After more than 4 months of looking out the window each day and seeing ice, we finally have open water on Pelican Lake! No matter how many times you see the ice come off a lake, the process always amazes me. This year we had a “guess the day the ice is fully off Pelican Lake” contest via our facebook page. The official date for complete ice off was April 15. For those of you who missed the process here is what transpired…

First the snow on top of the ice melts. Some days, the top of the ice may even melt a little, but then freezes again at night. Makes the ice really smooth and slick to walk on. Our kids like to “boot skate” on the ice when it is like this. As the ice softens and refreezes you can hear the ice cracking and “booming”, especially at night. Everyday we walk out on the ice and we can find new cracks that weren’t there the previous day. This is an awesome step in the process because after months of watching the sun set on the snow colored ice, we get to see the setting sun’s reflection again, this time on the shiny ice. But this stage only lasts for a few days. Soon the ice will change again…

One morning you get up and look out your window and see dark spots on the lake. This is the beginning of the end. Once the dark spots appear you stop going out very far on the ice and definitely no more driving on it. This usually happens anywhere from 3-4 weeks before the ice fully comes off.

Every day you look at the lake and see bigger dark spots on the lake. In a week or two it seems the entire lake is looking black. The sun may be turning the ice black but it isn’t the sun that finally gets rid of the ice. The sun will melt the edges but the middle of the lake needs more than just sun.

Once the lake is all black, you need some wind. The wind will blow across the lake and find a weak spot. That weak spot begins to open up and slowly the hole in the ice grows. The wind keeps ripping at the edges of the opening and if you have the patience you can sit and watch the hole in the ice grow bigger and bigger. Doesn’t take long to have a small hole open into a larger hole hundreds of yards wide. Once there are large holes open in the ice, usually you are a couple days away from being ice free. Just depends on how much the wind blows. This year the wind was out of the North. When the wind first started blowing the ice around Birch Forest Lodge was pretty open. But that quickly changed. The picture just above was taken in the morning on Monday April 10.

The wind had died earlier that afternoon and by sunset our bay, which had really opened up, gave us our first sunset reflected on open water in over 4 months! The next morning we woke up to this…

This picture was taken the following morning on April 11. Note the reflection of the Bald Island and all the open water in the middle of the lake. Compare that to the picture taken the day before. During the night, all the ice from the north side of the lake had blown onto our side of the lake. Huge sheets of ice smashed together lifting sections out of the water and causing buildups along fissures. The sheet of ice that pushed up on this rock was 12 inches thick. The wind dropped sometime in the night and the temperatures plummeted causing the ice to refreeze in this new position. This was torture for us at the lodge as we could see miles of open water out on the lake but were still locked in by ice. All along our shoreline ice had pushed up several feet onto the shore. All day Tuesday and Wednesday were sunny, but no wind. Slowly the sun melted the ice. By Wednesday evening we had this…

The sun had melted holes in the ice and birds were landing in the calm openings in the ice. As each day passed we saw and heard more birds, mostly ducks, geese and swans on the lake. Somehow they also knew that soon the ice would be no more. Thursday and Friday brought more sun, but no real wind. Finally on Saturday the rest of the ice finally disappeared. Took 5 days of sun to do the same damage as one half day of wind.

As pretty as it is when everything is quiet and iced over, like the birds, I for one prefer the open water! Hope you find some time to enjoy the lake!

 

By |2017-05-18T16:41:29+00:00April 18th, 2017|Open Water|0 Comments

About the Author: