When you are on an island, ice takes on a whole new interest when winter comes. Will it bear my weight? How slippery is it? Is there anyway I can cross to shore? I've done some reading on the subject--and I thought I'd share some things I've learned.
If you want to walk on water, the consensus seems to be that three inches of thickness is needed. You can get away with a lot less if you are on black ice. That was the condition we found at the beginning of last winter. After a rousing storm which truly stirred the last vestige of warm water from the bottom, we entered a quiet time which promoted a "perfect" layer of ice of about one inch in thickness. The still air and cold temps allowed for a uniform freeze that allowed a perfect crystalline structure to form in the ice--a structure of great strength. We enjoyed a full winter of this strong underlying surface, as additional layers were built.
This year looks to be a white ice year. We started with a nice one half inch of black ice, but it was quickly lashed with a warming rain, and now we have a hodgepodge which will probably serve as our base layer for the year.
For Cookie and myself, it means walking across with the kayaks close by. For those of you on shore, I'd recommend watching the ice fishermen. When they venture out to open areas of the lake, it will probably hold the average pedestrian as well.
Remember to take care wherever warming current may run. The channels where we are located fill with warm roof runoff from the channel homes and flow the water along the west shore toward the damn. Add to that the radiant heat of the seawalls in the morning sun and you have a pretty threatening combination on a sunny day. As we found with sailing, sometimes the greatest danger lies just before making port. The last few steps can be pretty exciting.