Dry freeze means smooth skating

December 17, 2005

The Hood River News does not encourage its readers to venture onto ice-covered bodies of water. It is a dangerous activity that requires safety measures, experience and knowledge of ice and ice conditions.

The current landscape at and surrounding Laurance Lake is surreal; it’s a silent and dreamlike frosted candy-land scene resembling something Willy Wonka might have created in his famous chocolate factory.

The forest looks decadent; like marshmallow-cream covered gingerbread trees, delicious and ready to eat. And the two-plus feet of snow surrounding the lake is still light and fluffy, like sugar and egg-whites whipped into a meringue.

Laurance Lake freezing over is common, really. But for the first time in recent years, the ice is not covered by snow. This is due mainly to the recent cold and dry weather. The five-plus inch thick ice is a smooth, short-lived rarity that only a select group of local winter-wonderlanders take advantage of.

Ice skating is hardly a popular pastime in Hood River County. In fact, it’s safe to say only a few have tried it in this area since the damming of the Columbia River.

Stories and memories of cars driving across Columbia’s ice are becoming a thing of the past.

This month’s high pressure systems and easterly winds have pushed cold, dry air into the Hood River Valley, while warding off coastal systems that could carry precipitation.

Although powder-hound skiers and snowboarders are having freshie-withdrawals, the cold air is keeping snow from melting at the local ski resorts. It is also thickening the ice at lakes and ponds around the county.

The time window for ice skating around here is short, as ice is often covered by snow before it is thick enough to skate on. The current weather is increasing that window, however, and for the select few locals with ice experience — like Roger Nelson, Todd Wells and Peter Stackpole — lacing up a pair of skates and exploring Laurance Lake as it is rarely explored is a welcomed opportunity.

After taking necessary safety measures, including drilling the ice in several places to check its thickness, the three roamed the frozen, desolate surface of a lake with hockey sticks and a tennis ball. From a distance they resembled Oompa-Loompa confectioners, smoothing the surface of one of Charlie’s latest creations.

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