Here are some pictures of our ride on February 10, 2007. We rode south to Rhorer, then to Stipp, and down to the lake. We started onto the lake at the Moore’s Creek Ramp, rode across the lake to Paynetown Ramp, then up to 446 and home.
Distance=~25 miles (Odometer is still frozen)
Time: 3.5 Hours (we did a lot of site-seeing.)
Weather: Brilliant clear, 15 degrees average
Wildlife sightings: 1 blue heron, flying right over our heads. One eagle in the distance flying over Moore’s Creek, one mature bald eagle flying near us at Payntown ramp. Two black labs and one Bill on the lake.
We learn about ice
We started out from the Moore’s Creek
Ramp. Once we got on the ice (which had an inch or two of snow on top), it was truly amazing. The only sound was the tires moving through the snow. Here is a shot looking back towards Moore’s Creek.
The we ran into this ice path in the lake. We thought maybe it was the channel and the ice was thinner here, but later we saw these ice paths were all over the lake, so they could not be channels. The ice looked thick enough, so I went across, and as I did my wheel sunk into the mushy ice, but I kept going and got across to the snow.
Here is Jojo back on the other side of the slush, questioning my sanity.
Here I am riding on the snow, no problem mon!
Jojo riding on the snow-Video link
So as we were riding away from Moore’s Creek towards the main part of the lake, we saw in the distance a small red dot, which quickly grew in size. I barely had time to whip out my camera to get shot of Bill and his two black labs, ice skiing at lickety-split towards us. He said “What the hell are you doing out here?” and he thought we were strange (we are.)
It seems he is the sole practitioner of ice skiing on Lake Monroe. Using his cross country skis, he just sharpened his pole ends to grab the ice. He knowledge of the ice dispelled our fears of the long ice paths, especially after he came up to us using one pathway we were wondering if we could even cross.
Apparently the ice expands as it freezes, causing the cracks at the middle of the paths. Water leaks up through the cracks and spreads out for a couple of feet, dissolving the snow, and then re-freezes.
Did I mention the sound? Standing next to one of the cracks, I heard this “ping” sound, a harmonic, otherworldly sound that seemed to emanate from the crack. Jojo called this sound ‘making ice’, and heard it many time while living on Hash Road.
We asked Bill, and he said it was the sound that follows you around the ice and scares you as a kid (he grew up in Wisconson.) But not to worry he said, the lake could hold a truck at this point. He explained that the slush we (and he, we saw his tracks) has gone through, was nothing to worry about, the water from the cracks created the slush, and it would soon freeze. Plus there are several inches of ice below. He also told us not to worry if we had to cross a spot where the ice was pushed, there is often some water on the lee side, but good ice underneath. We also asked about coming off the lake at the water intake station, and he reckoned we should be careful as the ice could thin where the water was being pumped.
The sun was getting close to the ridge, and we said goodbye to Bill, and headed towards the Paynetown Ramp. I took a couple last shots, and we headed up the hill to 446 and home through the clear, colorful sunset. As we approached Paynetown Ramp, we saw a full grown bald fly up from the ice, circle about, and then land on a tree limb about 1000 feet way.
Sunset on the ice, and goodbye to Lake Monroe.
We climbed the ridge from Paynetown, a gradual uphill, streaked up 446 to Pine Grove Rd, then took old 446 back to Bloomington.