Since the snow has decided to wait but old man winter has not, it’s time to pull out the ice skates. Night time temperatures in Truckee have consistently been in the single digits for over a week now, and day time temps barely break the freezing point. Even better, there hasn’t even been a hint of snow for almost five weeks now, so it was time to check out Prossor reservoir. Indeed, the ice had formed.On Saturday the southwest finger of Prossor was frozen solid, if a bit thin. After slamming a weak spot at the water’s edge with the end of a hockey stick I was able to estimate the thickness of the ice around 4 cm, almost two inches.
Thick enough for one to be sure, and besides, the surface was smooth as glass so I laced up. The ice creeked and cracked as I skated back and forth over the frozen blackness. Because it was borderline safe I kept near the shore. My biggest concern here were the myriad rocks that non-skaters had thrown on to the ice, apparently enthralled by the concept of rocks suspended on water except it’s ice, not water and all the rocks do is provide a trigger to trip up skaters. I pried a few loose and threw them back to shore but never felt comfortable standing in one place for long.
Yesterday was much better. The ice remained smooth, but had now thickened to at least three inches and it held firm. Expansion cracks had started to appear and it felt solid everywhere so myself and a gal from Tahoe-Donner had the whole lake to ourselves.
There’s finally a bit of snow in the forecast, but not much. It’s enough to ruin the ice, but not enough to cover the obstacles on the slopes. Time to get out the skates and enjoy it while you can. Pond league hockey starts today. See you out there.
Conditions Update (13dec11)
Last night was brrrrrrisk. The thermometer read 4° F this morning with a cloudless sky to greet the dawn.
The sun was high by the time I was lacing up and still there was no one else to share the ice with. Instead the ice itself was busy singing how cold it had gotten last night, with a regular symphony of boinging sounds as the ice expanded ever so slowly – like a band of boinging saws but with a sharp, pluck at the beginning. To the inexperienced these noises can instill fear, but to those who grew up in the mid-west or Canada, this is the sound of a solid ice pack, expanding as it gets colder and thicker with a musical noise that signals safety.
The latest forecast calls for continued cold and clear skies without a hint of snow for the foreseeable future around Tahoe. If you’re visiting soon, bring your skates. The ice is as good as it gets and there’s plenty of it.
Backcountry Ice Skating TR