Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rays of hope and ice lore

Jerry Schmanda, our Opeongo Store manager, and I went to the annual Algonquin Park contractor's meeting yesterday. I was an interesting meeting and also gave me a great opportunity to see the ice situation first hand as we drove to and from the Algonquin Visitor Centre.

The "rays of hope" are the warm sunny days we have been having lately. Ice is deteriorating quickly and this morning it was clear that Fairy Lake, near Huntsville, will go out soon. Lakes in the park typically go out 10 days to two weeks later.

The interesting bit of ice lore we learned yesterday may give early season canoe trippers additional optimism for an more seasonal ice-out. According to Craig MacDonald, long time park staffer and guru of wilderness travel lore, "good ice" goes out faster than "bad ice." Good ice is that solid clear blue stuff we all dream of skating on. Bad ice, or "snow ice" is a multi-layered mix of ice and snow. The crystal structure of good ice absorbs heat and "candles" very quickly. Candle ice is a special phenomenon only experienced on a few days of the year.

The bottom line? Still too early to call but current indications are that ice may go out earlier than we thought. Algonquin Park staff are planning a fly-over on Tuesday or Wednesday of next. They will update the park's ice report as soon as possible after the flight.
Tea Lake as seen from the Smoke Creek bridge on Hwy 60, April 16

Fork Lake, seen from the deck at the Algonquin Visitor Centre, April 16

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