Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Walking on ice and snow a top pastime
By DICK PINNEY
There's no reason for an outdoorsman (or outdoors woman) to be bored if they think that the only fun outdoors activity is to either play in the snow and ice with skis or skates or to hit the hills with sleds or toboggans.
We're talking about both ice and snow walking, when the snow levels allow it. The place we love to walk on the ice is right outside my home at Great Bay. When the conditions are right and there's no more than a couple of inches of snow on the ice, Jane and I will just don some warm clothes and our walking boots and head out, with no real destination in mind, just some exhilaration from the cool, clear air and the wide-open spaces that are available on this huge body of ice and snow.
First of all, we'll check to see if there's plenty of safe ice, which we'll often test with a few pokes with our ice fishing spud. And then we'll just head out where the walking looks best and safe, and wander around looking at the myriad of frozen structure and shorelines that often reveal some semi-valuable tools or other useful things.
Usually we'll have no goal in mind when it comes to planning our walk. Our choice often is to walk into the prevailing wind so our return to home after an often tiring walk will put the wind on our tail. Both in our 80th year, we'll use all the tricks in our bag to make the walk both enjoyable and not that tiring.
We're not necessarily searching for any bounty we run across in our wanderings but it is fun to find things that have some value or even some intrinsic attachment to our past life on "the bay."
We are constantly amazed at the "stuff" that ends up in the frozen shoreline mix of eelgrass and marsh grass. We've found single snowshoes! We'll wonder where the matching shoe went! We've found a pair of skates, also several clothing articles such as single gloves and mittens.
We'll also find some extremely interesting pieces of driftwood, both from trees probably living on the shoreline or from some articles that no doubt were illegally dumped as junk. They say that one person's junk can be another person's treasure!
Being avid waterfowlers, we are especially pleased when we find a runaway duck or goose decoy! It doesn't happen that often but when it does we gratefully add it to our collection (or maybe it could be called an addiction).
Walking Great Bay ice can be tricky and dangerous. You have to be especially aware of places that freeze up at high tide and have a big hollow space under the ice when the tide goes out! You may not get soaked when punching through the new ice but you could easily break a bone.
It's a pretty good idea to plan your walk around the tides. Walking on an incoming tide could soak you but also walking on an outgoing tide and punching through can be dangerous. After years of ice walking on Great Bay, both Jane and I still use the utmost of care and will sample several questionable areas before making our decision on if or where our walk will take us.
One fun trick that we don't do enough of is to park a vehicle at our walk's destination. It's a great thing to get into our wagon and head out for a late breakfast at our local "friendly diner" or to stop at a friend's house and accept any and all invitations for a bite to eat or a nip or two of an "adult" beverage."
You gotta love it! Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol and get out there and get you some good exercise and fresh air!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.