So, I learned the cold way today the difference between tide water and freshwater freezing over.
Spoiler alert: I survived.
Before you start judging, I know not to go out on the ice yet. The inland ponds and lakes have been frozen over for a couple of months–to the point now you could drive a truck out on them, if at this time of year you could drive a truck here, which you cannot. The bay, on the other hand, has only been frozen a few days owing to the fact the freezing temperature of seawater is lower and tidal movement blah, blah, blah, yadda yadda. Bottom line? It’s not safe.
So, when I walk the dogs along the shoreline, I stay above the high tide mark, or at least I thought I was. There is a lot of snow out there, however, and at one point today, I found myself in some slush. As I turned back toward the treeline, swoosh, I went through.
I did not panic… at first. I was right at the edge of the shoreline, I could feel the bottom and was only submersed about to my knee. The worst part was the -2C water filling boots.
Then I tried to pull myself out and my hands went through in front of me. My legs got sucked back down and my snowshoes felt like they were made of lead. A little bit of panic set in. It did not feel like I could get the snowshoes off unless it was by pulling my feet right out of my boots and then how would I walk all the way back to town? I’d have to fashion something out of my underclothes to wrap around my feet.
A bunch of thoughts like that raced through my head, but it passed pretty quickly as I was able to remind myself the water there could not be more than a couple of feet deep and I could practically reach out and touch solid ground from where I was. I laid myself out flat to distribute my weight and I guess that was Lady MacBeth’s cue I was in need of help because she came bounding over and started grabbing at my arm with her mouth and trying to pull me back to shore. The instinct is strong in this one, it is what Newfoundlanders were bred for, but it was actually more hindrance than help in this case.
I managed to shoo her away and by very slowly pulling my legs out I was able to free the snowshoes from the slush and drag myself back to the treeline.
I should note I was never really in any real danger just in case my wife and/or mother is reading this.
I knew from my experience as a SCUBA diver it would not take long for my boots and feet to act like a wet suit and warm the water to body temperature. I also knew that situation would change pretty quickly with the air temperature at -16, so I headed for home. My legs were kind of heavy, but my hands were dry thanks to moose hide mitts and it was a comfortable enough walk. And here I sit no worse for wear with a story to tell.