When will the ice be out?

It is the big question on the minds of district residents these days.
It has nothing to do with the provincial election. It has nothing to do with municipal elections. It is all about ice.
Bill Naturkach reminded me about a visit by delegates from our sister community of Paris, Kentucky. Paris is the home of citizens of Bourbon County and the plan was to take the mayor of that community and Paris’ CFO for a tour of Rainy Lake.
There was only one problem. Rainy Lake still was frozen in but arrangements were made.
The boat was launched from the Sorting Gap and we dodged some ice sheets as we made our way up under the Causeway, where the ice still filled the north arm.
We had in our boat some of Canada’s finest rye whiskeys and some rare Glen Breton Scotch from Cape Breton. As we drifted closer to the ice, we reached over and added clear Rainy Lake ice to our crystal glasses and then poured the amber from the bottles over the ice and enjoyed the afternoon sun and warmth.
It may have been the best Scotch and rye that has ever been poured on Rainy Lake. There was no Kentucky Bourbon to compare our fine Canadian whiskeys with.
The ice disappeared about a week later but the memory remains.
When will the ice disappear from Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, and other lakes in the area? That is the question that is top of mind for area residents. Nothing else seems to matter.
When can I put my boat in? When can I get by water to my cabin? They all are part of the main question. Historically, the most common day for ice-out on Rainy Lake is May 7.
By ice-out we mean when can I travel from the Ranier bridge to Kettle Falls or from the Ranier bridge to the Cascades.
We have become spoiled by our early ice-outs on Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods. This year, the prognosticators are expressing hope the ice will be gone sometime between May 12 and 19–just in time for the opening of walleye season.
There are indicators about the lake being open. Traditional indicators expect that Commissioner’s Bay will be open so many days before the rest of the lake. Passage across the south arm of Rainy often will arrive a few days before the north arm.
How much faster will blue ice deteriorate than slush ice?
How many trips will we make to see how far the ice has receded from Sand Bay or from north of the Causeway? Those trips will narrow the time remaining until we finally can reach our cabins.

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