Is the ice safe? A common question this time year. Memories of falling through ditch ice, as a child, come back … or hearing of people not making it.

Either way, getting your lower extremities wet at minus 24 degrees Celsius is gonna suck. Surely, it’s been cold enough, for long enough, with a non-insulating snow layer to make it safe.


Editor’s Note: Justin Hooper may be a gifted humorist, but he is certainly not an expert on ice safety. Would you take marital advice from Tiger Woods? Of course not … I’m just saying …


Who will be first to go out on the lake?

I placed my chips on the 12-year-old I saw surfing small ice flows in a snow-margined creek last April with the temperature just topping plus 5. The dogs have been going out for weeks, but they are light and more expendable than me.

Best to convince a partner to come along for safety’s sake. We could spread out and potentially save each other or get help to do so. Alas, one brave soul, my partner, decides to come along and act as paranoid advisor.

At least if the worst goes down, someone will scream my name as I go into the ice cold drink. The two of us head out. First step – snap, crackle, pop. Left foot goes through.

“It’s happening!”

“Calm down. I stepped on thin shore ice between two boulders. Water level musta dropped.”

We continued on, the whole time spent with a need for constant reassurance of safety for the safety buddy. No tracks anywhere. We are indeed on top of virgin powder on untested ice.

Next 10 steps feel secure. Must trust Brain and remember to dominate reason over paranoiac fear. Another 50 metres out.

“Wait, there’s a small creek that comes in here.”

“So, what’s your point?”

He’s right. Inflows and ice equals trouble. Let’s head out more.

Thanks, Brain.

Cautiously out farther, for logical purposes. Calmness, followed by a sudden loud bassy-laser noise blasting from left to right and past.

“We’re going down! Into the fetal position. Cover your armpits to conserve body heat.”

“Do I run or go into the log roll?”

Wait. It’s only normal. Shifting temperatures and ice expansion is probably causing it. I hear it all the time. It’s to be expected.

“Right. Good one. Sorry, I overreacted.”

Thanks, Brain.

You’re welcome.

Out a bit more, with the added companion of deduction at our side. Nice night, actually … clear and starry, moon rise to the northeast, potential for Northern Lights.

“What’s that rumbling noise.”

“Sounds like a fault line forming.”

“I think it’s the ice cracking.”

“What should we do?”

Wait, you idiots … It’s a kid on a sled with a skimmer of wood.

And there it was, a kid, younger than 12, toque-less, in a flannel jacket and mismatched gloves. Riding a hugely oversized sled given his small stature. He was dragging a sleigh of wood across the lake.

“Of course it’s safe; that must weigh 900 pounds.”

“I feel foolish, too.”

Both of you are idiots. I tried to tell you. Leave me in charge for your own good.

Why you gotta be like that, Brain?

The three of us headed back to land. We felt foolish and unexceptional while the Brain withheld general irritation towards its subpar company.


Editor’s Note: OK, I gotta jump in here one more time. Justin is not an iceologist, and if he says the ice is safe, you had just best assume that it’s not. Would you take a team-building workshop with Dennis Fentie? ‘Nuff said. I’m just saying … ask the locals.