2011-02-22 50 -119

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Tue 22 Feb 2011 in 50,-119:
50.3223463, -119.2537534

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Swan Lake. I drive past this location every day, often admiring it. Each year there is short time where it freezes enough to be deemed safe. Suddenly it becomes host to temporary camps for ice fishing, plowed ovals for ice racing, and whatever else people consider fun. I've yet to have an excuse to join them, until today.




I had work, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. On the way home I stopped and scouted the area. This turned out to be important because the rowing launch was gated off (everyone else used a boat launch at the opposite end of the lake). A little further back the fence ended, with only the lake reeds to contend with. I would return at night when none of this would be visible.


Equipped with more layers of clothes, a camera with wide-angle lens, a tripod, and a GPS, I drove back to my location. As far as I could see, the lake was now vacant. The reeds were more of a barrier than I expected, but passable when frozen. Since I had only ever been on frozen surfaces during the day with other people, I actually paused to consider if there was any reason why it would be less safe at night. It wasn't something you get a chance to be wrong about.

As I crossed the surface, I squinted at what appeared to be an abandoned car. It was close enough to the coordinates that I even considered it was another geohasher (quite unlikely here).

The lake began making noises. Strange noises. Loud noises. Like a mix between an alien weapon and a giant air bubble surfacing. I vaguely recalled something similar when ice fishing in my childhood. Nothing moved, so I continued on. (Note: At home I learned this phenomena is apparently unnamed, but examined by a few, including this guy. The sounds I heard differ from his recordings; they were slower, lower in tone, and quite possibly louder.)

My GPS took me past the car. I set up my tripod, operating the camera with fingerless gloves. The temperature wasn't hospitable to exposed fingers, so I didn't experiment too much. As I walked back towards the car, a large canine came running from the opposite direction, primed to attack.

It turned out a woman had parked there to walk her two dogs. She wore a headlamp, so I couldn't make out her face, but after she called off her dogs, we stopped and talked. She really seemed to enjoy the winter night. She asked if I was carrying a telescope. I bid her a good night, and continued back.

Overall, somewhat disconcerting, but a very unique experience. It brought up feelings felt when reading Andreas Duller's Post-Nuke.




Juventas earned the Walking on water geohash achievement
by reaching the 50, -119 water geohash on 2011-02-22 on foot. Yes, on foot.
2011-02-22 lake.jpg