Walking on the Ice at Abraham Lake

February, 2017

There I was, driving along highway 93, on my way to Abraham Lake, and out of the corner of my eye, I see a lynx! It was going for a casual walk along the side of the road. It was far too slippery, and there was a very big truck with a very big trailer following very close behind me, so I did not stop. Instead, I took a selfie so I can always remember how excited I was to see my first lynx.

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I turned from highway 93 onto highway 11. I was still beaming from the lynx. As I drove, I looked out at the surrounding land— it is so beautiful here. Then, lo and behold, what catches my eye? Two lynx. I stopped and reversed back to where the two cats were by the side of the road. Holy moly! I rolled the window down, turned my music off, and just sat and watched them. They were playing. Their paws were so big, they were so furry, and I could have died. I went from seeing zero lynx in my life to seeing three lynx!

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I arrived to Abraham Lake with a lynx-inspired smile on my face. Almost as soon as we checked in to the lodge, we wrapped ourselves up in our best frozen lake attire, and wandered down the hill towards the lake. The ice is so cool. Huge, broken slabs of glacier blue ice stretched along the shore. As we slipped and slid down the hill, we both regretted not wearing our traction aids. We reached the ice and slowly, ever so carefully, took a few steps out onto it. I was nervous at first, because I have seen enough internet videos of people falling through ice to know it’s funny to see, and not funny to be the one falling, but as we continued to walk, my confidence level began to rise.

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Abraham Lake is unlike any other lake I’ve visited, and that is because of it’s frozen bubbles. Decaying plants on the lake bed release methane gas, and as the lake begins to freeze, these methane bubbles get trapped under the surface of the ice. Looking down through the surface one can see how thick the ice actually is— maybe three feet thick in some places! We came across our first bunch of bubbles! How cool! Wow, nature, you look good! Then, we heard a huge boom. Not a crack, more like a thumping. Twice. Thump thump. I gasped. We froze on the spot. Again, thump thump. The ice was shifting under our feet. No cracks, no movement we could feel, just huge, almost glacial shifting. The thumping sounded like a heartbeat, and you can bet your bottom dollar if I was high in that moment, I probably would have started to cry and gone on a rant about how mother nature is “like, totally alive”.

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We continued to wander and slip around, gasping at how cool the bubbles were. No matter how many bunches we saw, it just did not get old. As we walked and chatted, we relaxed a bit. Perhaps our confidence level was too high? Perhaps we stopped walking so tentatively? I took a step, and the ice cracked under my feet. The ice cracked under Michael’s feet too. We stopped, dead in our tracks, unable to move. Holding our breath, we began to slowly shuffle backwards. We reached a spot where we could see the ice was super thick again, let out our breath, and got the F back to shore.

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