"I felt like a penguin top top a large treadmill. The Canadian shoreline just did not seem to be getting any kind of bigger."
Editor"s Note:This story was initially published in the December 1978 worry of Cleveland Magazine. We"ve republished that as component of our historic Read of the mainly series, in which us revive standard pieces native the magazine"s archives. Read more about Dave Voelker"s go as component of ours "30 Myths That define Cleveland" December 2019 sheathe package.

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On February 18, they made their crossing together planned. Well, not fairly as planned. I had argued that a two-day pilgrimage would be a better idea, because 30 miles was too much for six fairly out-of-shape persons to hike in one shot. The last stretch of ice cream would have to be covered in darkness, which, linked with fatigue, would reduce the safety factor to a dangerous low. Instead of reaching the Ontario shore slightly exhausted at 7 p.m., they came down on 11 p.m., totally exhausted. Towards the end, just staying on your feet was a actual struggle.Meanwhile, i hadn"t abandoned my very own plans for a solo crossing. The spelunkers" standard success confirmed that the route was passable; the ice was solid the entirety way. Unknown to them, i had already called the coast Guard prior to their departure to discover out whatever they might tell me around the lake in winter. I fifty percent expected a frenzied class on ice safety, v a desperate plea to clear up for walking throughout the fountain on Cleveland"s Mall. Surprisingly, I uncovered the coastline Guard officers to be concerned and extremely helpful, offering safety tips around ice characteristics and also the advantages of particular wind directions. Sure, castle discouraged the idea, however they recognized they to be powerless come prohibit together crossings, and also they might as well make sure the participants take it as countless precautions together possible. The adhering to week ns tried to uncover at the very least one other human to go v me, however no one was particularly crazy around the idea. If ns was really bent ~ above going, the looked like I would have to go alone. In ~ the outset, when so much was uncertain, I would certainly not also have taken into consideration a solo hike, yet I had built up my wishes sufficiently that, by then, I can undertake the expedition by myself and also still feel reasonably secure — even though, by venturing out alone, i was break the cardinal dominance of out safety. Ns rationalized it together an inevitable necessity, however the reality is 1 was covertly relieved not to need to share v anyone an suffer that to be bound to be at as soon as ennobling and also humbling — and also profoundly personal.I determined to do the expedition the weekend ~ the an initial expedition, taking two days to carry out it. The temperature had actually been listed below freezing because that over 30 days and also promised to remain down there through the weekend. I might look forward to a cold and also windy hike. Mine equipment consisted of a backpack, a tent, a sleeping bag, two large empty water bags placed in the bottom that the fill for flotation, an ice cream ax (a one-of-a-kind ice rise tool), a red flare and a two-channel walkie-talkie. Total pack weight: around 40 pounds. In addition, I carried my camera and tripod to document my crossing on film. This account is lifted from a mini-journal I maintained along the way, broadened when I got home to include observations the numb fingers precluded from record on the spot.


3 p.m.: "Only the an excellent Die Young." For part reason, i couldn"t acquire that stunner Billy Joel tune out of my head. This was the the furthest I"d to be from land. I could barely see east Sister Island (Canada) ahead, but knew ns wouldn"t do it there by nightfall. The strong northwest wind to be slowing mine pace. The immensity that the lake was beginning to admire me, however the just analogy I can think the to explain how dwarfed ns felt was "a piece of sausage sandwiched between two gigantic slices the white bread." Cold go funny points to the an innovative faculty.

6:30 p.m.: Darkness to be imminent, and I was beat. Conditioned by years of endure in camping, ns intuitively began looking approximately for a an excellent place to key my tent, climate realized foolishly that one clues is as good as the next. Follow to the location that east Sister and also Hwen Islands inhabited on the horizon, i figured mine camp to be best on the international boundary. It take it me a fifty percent hour to erect my tent in the wind and, together always, crawling right into my warmth sleeping bag after an arduous day to be a near-orgasmic experience. Ns fired increase my little camp stove and also supped splendidly on crate spaghetti with Vienna sausages, oblivious to the swirling, frigid wasteland the lay just external my comfortable quarters.

7:30 p.m.: I believed I would give my walkie-talkie a try. Its normal selection is only a few miles at best, but wide open locations are claimed to boost reception and also transmission greatly. "Breaker 19 for a northbound ~ above this right here Lake Erie. Anybody copy?" Fuzzy static. "I"m out below on the lake. Have the right to anybody choose up my signal?" quiet nothing. "Would that make any kind of difference if I had actually a damaged leg, inner bleeding and frostbite?" an ext static. So much for my priceless radio link.

8:30 p.m.: ns stepped outside the time to relax myself one last time, and also met the scene that, an ext than any type of other on the trip, would become firmly imprinted on mine memory. The wind had died down to a dead calm, and my thermometer check out 20 degrees. The stars were out in complete force, and I can see shimmering lamp onthree shores. Except for the drone of an sometimes invisible plane, the silence was complete and overwhelming. It to be a peaceful, striking image, and as ns beheld the rarely beauty of a frozen lake in the dead the night, ns felt possessed by a satisfying and impregnable serenity. For that feeling alone, the expedition was worthwhile.

Back into my cozy sleeping bag ns crawled, acquisition my water bottle with me so that wouldn"t freeze overnight. I fell asleep instantly.


There are some world who room trying to do it illegal come walk across the lake. But they"ll never do it, no as long as we have a Constitution. Hiking is a bona fide recreational usage of the lake, certainly no much less legitimate 보다 fishing or water skiing.

Colin Fletcher provides the point much better than i in his book, The finish Walker. Come those who still wonder why everyone would want to walk throughout Lake Erie, this excerpt comes together close to an answer as you"re going come get:

If girlfriend judge safety to it is in the paramount factor to consider in life, you should avoid at all costs such foolhardy tasks as driving, fallout’s in love, or inhaling air that is practically certainly riddled v deadly germs. Never cross one intersection versus a red light, also when you can see the all roads are clear for miles. And also never, that course, discover the offal of an idea that appears as if it might threaten among your more cherished beliefs. In her wisdom, you will more than likely live come a ripe old age.

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But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead because that a long, long time.