Well, we finally did it.
Ever since the bay froze over completely–I don’t know exactly when that was, but I’ve been watching people make the crossing on snowmobile for several weeks–I’ve been threatening to walk over to the other side.
While I can’t rule out an element of nervousness, I was just waiting for the perfect day. It couldn’t be too cold or too windy because being exposed out there on the open ice would be really unpleasant and possibly dangerous. I also didn’t want it to be too warm because when it gets to be in the low single digits under zero, the snow on top of the bay gets slushy under the first few inches, which clings to my snowshoes and makes them feel like they’re made of iron instead of aluminum. Finally, I didn’t want be too busy with my projects because I had no idea how long the walk would take. It looks really close, but I know it’s not. Out here, the scale of everything can be deceiving.
In any event, Saturday was just right. When we headed out it was -16C with a southwest wind averaging around 20km per hour, so mid- minus-20s with the wind chill. It was mostly sunny and we had the whole day if we wanted it.
If I am being honest, once we got out there in no man’s land, I had butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Intellectually, I knew the ice was plenty thick and perfectly safe, but emotionally, your body knows you’re walking on top of a lot of sub-freezing water.
And, speaking of things you know intellectually, but are hard to convince your emotions of, standing at the bottom, I was amazed at how gradual the incline is up to the top of Post Hill. From the town side of the bay, the hill looks really steep, almost two-dimensional. You know from the diminishing size of the trees that this is not the case, but until you actually see it up close, it is difficult to truly appreciate it.
So, bottom line, what was it like over there? Not surprisingly, it is remarkably similar to this side, except it doesn’t have the great view of Post Hill. It was cool, though, to look back across at the tiny town after four months of only seeing the bay from one side. Also, the rocks look quite different. Generally speaking, Labrador is old and the rocks in this region range from about 1.8 to 1.9 billion years. Consequently, they are generally metamorphic rocks, heavily foliated and intruded with later plutonic activity. Forgive the jargon; basically they’re twisted and messed up. My geological chops are pretty rusty, but from observation, it appears the Post Hill side is mainly meta-volcanic and meta-sedimentary rocks while the Postville side metamorphics appear to be more igneous in origin. That is consistent with a geological map I found later.
Now that we’ve made the crossing, I don’t think weather is nearly the factor I might have anticipated. It only took about 20 to 22 minutes. If I bothered to start at the narrowest point, I suspect we could do it in 17 or 18. And coming back I had no pangs of uneasiness whatsoever.