A Season of Ups and Downs.
It's been a while since our last condition report. About a month in fact. Things have been busy here at Hardwater Kiting and between site inspections, lessons and shipping kites, the reports have been put on the back burner. But a lot has happened in the last month and we've been desperately trying top get something up.
So here we go are!
For a few weeks we had some really good semi-firm surfaces that allowed for easy, effortless riding with minimal wind. From a lesson perspective you couldn't ask for better conditions as they allow beginners to really focus on flying the kite and feeling how subtle adjustments to the kite's position in the window and ski edging really affects things. Lessons for a few weeks were great and students really progressed rapidly with out having to deal with too much deep snow. We had a cold snap that really helped set things up in a lot of places and we got some good ice built up before we got hit by a series of storms about a week ago. Those storms changed things considerably. And if you have been following the NH news, for some the results were tragic.
A big part of what our work load at Hardwater Kiting is scouting the lakes we ride and checking conditions. We employ a number of things to ascertain as best we can the safety margin of the lakes we are riding. This involves time and money as we go to each lake and drill holes, send camera down, talk to residents etc... It is a time consuming and costly practice but one we do in the interest of client safety. As we like to say, "know before you go" and inspecting the lakes first hand as well as gathering reliable intel from locals who know the lake is critical. Especially when you have a situation like we did recently.
When you have a cold snap that sets up a thin layer of ice followed by snowfall that covers the new ice and makes it nearly impossible to tell where the thick ice stops and thin ice begins. This is exactly what occurred on Lake Winnipesaukee just prior to a recent fishing derby. The "Broads" of the lake had just frozen over and the snow came. A number of people visiting, without any real knowledge of what was happening out on the lake, tried to ride snowmobiles out on the broads and went through the ice. A few unfortunately did not survive. A little effort to learn about where you are going can reduce the risk and even save your life. With ice you can't make assumptions. And when things like this occur the knee jerk reaction is "STAY OFF THE ICE". But the reality is, if you dig a little into the story you will find that in most cases these accidents are less about the quality of the ice and more about human error. As I said, "Know before you go." but also "When in doubt, don't go out." Either ride areas that you are familiar with and have been monitoring or ride with people who know what is going on. It's that simple.
So now, here we are. A Week after the heavy snowfall and with yet another warm up. This is settling down the surface depth and in most places that were 2' deep a week ago, we now have about 8-9". The snow weighed down the plates on many lakes and anything that had ice fishing activity (especially after the derby) has a pretty substantial slushing issue going on as the water has been pushing up through the ice fishing holes as well as around the edges so some places you have to travel about 500'+ to get to dry ice. With wide skis the slush isn't too much of an issue and as we go through the upcoming warm up, everything will consolidate and the following drop in temps will make for good firm surface riding again. Ice thickness has been holding up well where we've checked and many places are thick enough that trucks are on the ice. We are coming into the best part of snow kite season here in New England and we are way better off this year than last.
WARNING. No ice is ever 100% safe. We offer condition reports as a service to our students and clients who are familiar with the area and as a source of general condition information to others. These reports are not intended to replace common sense or up to the minute first hand knowledge of a given area. Nor is it a substitute for common sense. When in doubt don't go out.