It’s been a whole week since I could upload pictures, so I’m very glad I could take some new ones today. A lot has changed.
We have reached the tipping point. In the early spring, I take pictures of patches of water surrounded by ice. When we reach the halfway point, my pictures start to be of the ice/water boundary areas.
Okay, let’s go.
This first shot looks south west. Longbow Lake is at the left, Pine Portage Bay is more to the right, and the big patch of ice is Bigstone Bay. Note that Longbow is completely open. In Pine Portage Bay, Northern Harbour has some water to work with, but you cannot yet sail out of the bay onto the rest of the lake.
You can click on these pictures to see a larger version that’s zoomable to full resolution. That’s especially handy if you want to see something in the distance.
Next, we moved straight ahead to get closer to Hay Island.
Thunder Bay, home of Smith Camps, is at the left, with Long Point separating it from Pine Portage Bay, but Northern Harbour is just out of sight under the plane’s nose. There’s open water in those small bays, but as usual, ice in Bigstone Bay is holding out, making it tough to reach the area around Middle Island and Hay Island.
We went a little further to get a good look at Middle Island and Scotty Island.
The water’s wide open all the way to Scotty Island now, although a little pan ice is clinging to the north shore. Middle Island is mostly open, but it would be tricky to reach it from the east side. In the distance, you can see that Andrew Bay is open, but there’s still lots of ice south of the Barrier Islands. Also notice that the Manitou is only open as far as Whiskey Island. Beyond that, the ice looks quite strong.
This next shot shifts the view to the right, looking more directly west.
Town Island is just to the right of the aircraft’s nose in the picture above with just a little ice trapped around Galt Island. Roger’s Island and Treaty Island are open.
Let’s take a closer look at that area.
We’ve climbed quite high now, so this shot shows the whole area from Galt Island at the lower left corner, past Treaty Island near the center, to downtown Kenora at the right. Devil’s Gap is clear, and the ice is all gone in Rat Portage Bay, with Gun Club Island wide open.
Next, a different view of the Pine Portage Bay and Longbow Lake area.
This time we’re looking south east, so you can see all of Pine Portage Bay and Longbow Lake, and the far end of Bigstone Bay. The ice on Bigstone still looks pretty sturdy.
This last shot covers downtown again, but I’m including it because it looks west and offers a better view of Darlington Bay, and in the distance, Clearwater Bay and Shoal Lake.
We didn’t have time to fly further west, so Garrett snapped this shot from the pilot’s side while I took the controls for a moment. Darlington Bay is open. In the distance, Clearwater still has quite a bit of ice, and from the looks of it, Shoal Lake is still mostly frozen, at least the south part.
At the time I took these pictures, the pedestrian footbridge to Coney Island was still in place. You can just make it out behind the wing if you zoom in on this shot. But now that the ice is not an obstacle to boat traffic, the bridge will be coming out.
As we left town behind, we got rather too high to get good pictures, but we noticed that both Upper and Lower Black Sturgeon are open, while Silver Lake still has ice. Even further north, in my old float-plane stomping grounds, Maynard Lake and Oak Lake are about half open.
What does all this mean, in terms of how long until all the ice is gone on Lake of the Woods? With huge stretches of the lake open, the wind is able to really drive the ice and break it up.
I looked at some past years, and hunted for pictures with about the same amount of ice remaining. I would say we are now about ten days ahead of 2015 and 2016. That suggests that we have only a few days to go. Under ideal conditions, we could see the ice disappear this weekend. But. The weekend forecast is for single-digit highs, and overnight lows below freezing. Let’s just say within a week, and cross our fingers.