Ice Adventures

Dec 9, 2012 | 0 comments

Yesterday a group of us decided to brave the sub-zero temperatures and enjoy our still snow-free weather and drive out to Dorothy Falls, a fun hiking location we’d been to over the summer. The falls are about 25 miles from Nome and a 2 mile hike from the road. We headed out at sunrise around noon, to make the most of the daylight. 
Before starting our hike though, we stopped at Salmon Lake to see how it was doing in the cold. We found it almost completely frozen over, the ice at least a foot and a half thick. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Some of the ice was totally clear, with bubbles frozen in place!
Frozen bubbles under the ice!

You could see all the way down to the bottom with air bubbles and leaves frozen in place. It was totally surreal.

Everyone fascinated by the ice

So now I can say I’ve walked on a lake. It was quite slippery, and although fun to slide around on, it was still a little nerve-wracking, since you could hear even the thickest parts of the ice popping and cracking under your feet.

The frozen lake

Made for some beautiful photo ops

More cool cracks and ice

We got to the Dorothy Falls trail head (or lack thereof) around 2pm and bundled up in tons of layers and face masks. It was about -5 degrees plus about a 30mph wind so I estimated it to be close to -20 degrees with windchill. In other words, the coldest I’ve ever been! Fortunately my clothes were plenty warm once we got moving: I was wearing 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, thermal long johns, snow pants, a wool base layer shirt, fleece vest, North Face parka, balaclava face mask, knit scarf, winter hat, and gloves.

The river was frozen over so the group decided to hike the whole way on the ice. It was kind of fun at first but when I started realizing how many different kinds of ice (and levels of slippery-ness, meltedness, overflow, etc) that there were, I became pretty uncomfortable with it.

I had no idea what “overflow” was until I slipped in it for the first time and found myself sitting in cold, slushy ice that immediately froze my glove to my hand. OW! Overflow is kind of when liquid water comes over the solid ice and turns into cold slush, extremely slippery and kind of rubbery to step on. Well, I ripped my frozen glove off my hand and fortunately had an extra pair in my backpack — in the few minutes it took me to change my gloves with numb hands, the wet pair had frozen solid. (note to self: invest in better gloves!).

After that, two of us decided to hike the rest of the way up the ridge, off the ice while the other 4 continued up the river. In the end, we all made it to the falls around the same time so it worked out well.

Friend’s pic of the frozen waterfall

It was pretty amazing — although frozen solid, you could still hear water flowing and bubbling somewhere around it (also randomly found a Geocache next to it!).

On the way back, we all decided to stay together on the ice since it was getting dark. Eventually I got used to the slipping and sliding, and although it was very slow going 2 miles like that, it became pretty fun. We even had some roll-up sleds that we used to slide down the frozen flow slopes!

Penguin-waddling down the river with my roll-up sled

We made it back just as the sun was setting around 4pm. I think all but one person had wiped out multiple times during the trip and we were all covered in ice and snow; the bottom hem of my pants was frozen with ice about a half inch thick.

Overall it was a great adventure and more new experiences all around.


Leave a Reply