April 27, 2017: Wrapping Up

If a lake thaws, and no-one gets to enjoy it, did it still melt? I flew every day this week, and I didn’t lay eyes on the lake once. We’ve had nothing but wind and snow and cold. I have no trips scheduled on the weekend, so I might as well try to put Ice Patrol to bed.

For my records, I’ll be saying that this year, Lake of the Woods was ice free on Monday, April 24th.

Not a very satisfying way to close off the Ice Patrol, I admit. You may be wondering if all these below-freezing temperatures mean we could be making new ice. Short answer: no. It’s been too windy for anything but the shallowest parts of the most sheltered bays to re-freeze. Slightly longer answer: watch out for ice formed from spray on your shoreline, dock and boat. You do not want to fall in the lake yet.

It could be worse, by the  way: you could live in Thunder Bay. They’ve had two days of horrendous freezing rain, and practically every flight in or out was cancelled during that time.

Let’s look at how it went this year. I describe the thawing of Lake of the Woods as a six week process, but I admit his is a rather rubbery statistic. While it’s usually easy to say when the thaw is complete, it’s more subjective to squint at the icy lake one day and whisper, “it begins.” This year, I started on March 14th, because that’s roughly typical. So if you’ll spot me that call, this year was just one day shy of the six week mark.

April the 24th is actually on the early side. Here’s my graph that breaks the spring down into 5-day periods. The brick for each year is stacked in the time-slot when the full thaw was complete:

So that’s it for now. If I ever get to fly in the sunshine again, I’ll try to photograph some sparkling water. Perhaps one of my other contributors will be able to fly this weekend and get some pretty pictures. It’s been wonderful to have help from so many other pilots this year, by the way: some are complete strangers, some are casual acquaintances, and of course, all of my friends at Walsten Air pitched in to help.

In the meantime, I’ll post my usual spring reminder about floatplanes. When seaplanes are landing or taking off they have the right of way over boats. When they’re taxiing, they have the same right of way as other boats, but they have no reverse, no brakes, and limited steering, so I ask you give them a wide berth. Please keep in mind that the portion of Safety Bay from Bush Island along the north side of Coney Island is a designated water aerodrome. In other words, an airport for floatplanes. Be vigilant there, and if you do see a plane coming, try to give the pilot room without making sudden, last-second moves.

Last, I’m going to unashamedly plug my book. Five Rivers Publishing is releasing Avians this summer. It’s science fiction for young adult readers. The Converts have tech, the Naturals don’t. Raisa is the girl caught in the middle.

AVIANS First Edition Cover

If you’d like some summer reading, Avians will be released on August 1st, and it’s available for pre-order now in either e-book or trade paperback format. You can find out more about it by visiting any of these links:

Five Rivers Publishing. Amazon. Kobo. Barnes & Noble.  I’m also planning an appearance at Elizabeth Campbell Books this summer. If you’d like a signed copy, keep an eye on Timothy Gwyn Writes for further details on that as we work things out. Oh, and I’ll be in Winnipeg for Keycon in May. I’ll be doing panels and presentations and a reading there, and giving away one or two signed advance copies.

And now, back to the lake. The Coney Island bridge is being taken out as I write this. And of course, now that I’m finished flying for the day,  the sun is coming out.

Have a safe and sunny summer.

20 thoughts on “April 27, 2017: Wrapping Up

  1. Thanks for the continued updates that have guided our plans for passage to our Island every year. It’s a great spring ritual that gets up pumped to return.

    Look forward to reading the book.

  2. Thanks for the continued updates that guide our plans for passage to our Island. It’s a great spring ritual that gets us pumped to returnX

  3. Got out to gun club last Friday. …earliest open to date for us. Thanks for your helpful posts. Enjoy the summer….

    D On Apr 28, 2017 11:41 AM, “Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol” wrote:

    > icecaptain posted: “If a lake thaws, and no-one gets to enjoy it, did it > still melt? I flew every day this week, and I didn’t lay eyes on the lake > once. We’ve had nothing but wind and snow and cold. I have no trips > scheduled on the weekend, so I might as well try and put Ice” >

  4. Thanks once again for your 6 weeks of coverage and the wonderful pictures of the Lake of the Woods. I think I am finally getting to know the parts of the lake beyond Storm Bay where I mostly boat. Tho’ it will look a lot different from lake level. Have a great summer!

  5. Thank you much for all your posts this spring. Come February/March I start accessing all the data I can get regarding ice out on the lake from my “winter palace” in the Twin Cities. My only wish is that you’d fly more to the south on occasion since our “summer headquarters” is on an island in Whitefish Bay. I really enjoy your writing and writing style. I have to pick up your book and add it to my summer reading list for out on the dock. One question I’ve always had is: when we have a floatplane flyover us on the lake and wave can you really see that as a pilot. If so is there any standard acknowledged way of a plane waving back? I always envision the pilot tipping his wings back and forth but never see this. Just curious. Thanks again and have a good summer.

    Bob Leibrock

    Senior Consultant


    • I wish I could get closer to Sioux Narrows regularly, but I can’t manage that much of a detour very often. Had hoped to swing that way today, but too much snow.

      Yes, if a pilot sees you, he may rock the wings. But if he’s not looking at the right moment, he may not see you wave. Wave anyway, we like it when we do notice.

  6. Many thanks, Tim, for keeping us updated with pictures and comments on Lake of the Woods’ transition from winter ice to spring thaw. It’s much appreciated.
    Christa Duclos

  7. Thank you so much for the much appreciated info you provide us lake people! Have a great summer!

  8. Great job as always. Was a ramp rat for 3 years back in the early 60’s for Barney Lamb and Ontario Central Airlines. New Neil when he was one of the Beaver pilots along with many of the others, Rex Kitley(Canso), Tom Sigurdson(Goose), Kenny Race(Norseman) and Stu Everett(185). heading for my summer home in Darlington Bay for the summer May 10 or 12. Thanks again.

  9. Thanks again! Really appreciate the updates as we always fly up in May from SW Ontario
    Have a great summer. Can’t wait to get there!!!

  10. Thanks, Icecaptain, we check out your posts every spring & make our opening up plans accordingly.
    The families on Nanton Island.

  11. I went from skiing and ice fishing on Bigstone Bay to kayaking in ten days.
    A record for me.
    Always enjoy your reports and pictures, thanks.

  12. Thanks once more for all the updates on the spring thaw. Great pictures and so interesting to see the lake from the air. Congratulations on your book. Quite an accomplishment and a lot of work. I am going through the same process. Have a great summer.

  13. Again thank you for your updates. They are factual and present a fair picture od the ice melt on Lake of the Woods and the surrounding lakes. We enjoy your comments and will look forward to your book launch.
    Al & Ginny

  14. Once again this year I depended on your information, being a snow bird in Daytona Beach Florida. What a wonderful job you do!! Keep up the excellent work. I will be looking for your postings a year from now (God willing) Wayne H Russell and wife Glenda Kenora Ontario. >

  15. Thanks for all the reports And pictures Tim. Welcome Channel finally calmed down last night and this morning there were patches of new ice that formed overnight. It didn’t take too long for it to disappear. I have never seen that before. At least not on April 28th!

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