Going Up! (freeze and thaw in 2 weeks)

The St Joseph River opened back up today here in SW MI. It doesn’t freeze easily but the past two weeks included a deep freeze and a lot of lake effect snow. And then it started warming up again and raining lightly.

Two days ago there wasn’t much open water.

Then yesterday there was more open water but it was still inaccessible and plenty scary since the level is rising yet some sections remained totally frozen. I had a nice chat with a fisherman that was also scouting.

Then amazingly today it was wide open. The river is high enough that you can only see the top 2 feet or so of the ramped part of the concrete boat launch and it’s a long ramp.

You knew it would open up again and wash away the ice at some point due to the rising water but you can’t tell when and it’s amazing that it can happen so suddenly.


So I went for a short, cautious paddle to try to get reacquainted with the river (wearing neoprene plus a drysuit). It looks so calm but the current is strong (and confused in many places) and I turned around early.

Like most outings you learn something; I’ll be taking my biggest/safest solo from now on and I’ll be happy to spend time on smaller rivers if they open up soon.

1 Like

Good move turning around Tom. I enjoy your posts and photos and would like to in the future.
P.S. one day with our land shark.

Love bites.

Our lab had her puppy teeth until she was 50 pounds. We went through a lot of bandaids.

Looks as though the Harpy has been side-steppin’ up and off the gauntlet!

When Nippy-noodle Doggone-doodle sinks his puppy teeth,
your flesh 'n blood per new best-bud will sieve in search relief.

With at least a decade’s worth of this frequent freeze and thaw cycling through the Dec-Jan-Feb mos. here in mad-cap mid-Atlantica, I often wonder what havoc, and perhaps adaptation, must be transpiring within the many animal populations, especially those riparian amphibians and reptilians used to a much longer chilled stasis? While I’m sure there are many forces at work in perhaps reducing species numbers, frogs and salamanders are getting real hard to come by on my paddles.

And I know how you feel about those chilly “squirrel” currents of freshet release on big rivers, Tom. More than a few times the sudden swirl or jet-push of the Potomac and Susquehanna has sent me near gunnel-grabbing and to my knees, seeking a near eddy or bank reverse current to steady myself.

Icy waters are like runaway bull.
Heated mad dash neath a surface seemed cool.

This past Fall the turtles went into hibernation at least twice and I was wondering what they were thinking (and muttering) when it went from 60 one day to snow the next. In general I think critters have narrow but very deep skill sets and survival is something they practice and are good at. The youth will lead the way into the future.

Regarding the river you might appreciate that I wasn’t getting pushed around much at all… I had just passed an obstacle and the paddling got much easier because I was in somewhat turbulent water so the current was just giving you little tiny pushes from various directions all the time, plus I’d have to go a long way before I could get to safer water by either shoreline. So I did a very careful u-turn. The thing that I was keenly aware of is that on this particular stretch of river (which I will avoid for a while) there are spots where you might have to spend a lot of time in the water before you could get out and I’m looking for quick/reliable exit options in winter.

1 Like