Visit to a Frozen Island/Perfect Weather for Pond Hockey

Blue, white and gold: the little no-name islet off the tip off Old Mission
Blue, white and gold: the little no-name islet off the tip off Old Mission

By MIKE NORTON

As the weekend temperatures tumbled below zero around the Norton house, Karen and I went into two wildly different modes of winter adaptation. She wrapped herself in a blanket, found a sunny spot to sit in, and curled up with a good fat book. Me,  I zipped on my old snowmobile suit with the duct-tape patches and drove up to Lighthouse Point for some snowshoeing.

Yeah, it was cold – but the sun was bright, I was properly dressed, and the ice had firmed up so well that I could do something I’ve never done in all the time we’ve lived at Old Mission – I walked out to the tiny island that sits just off the northwest point of the Peninsula, about a half mile from shore. When we first moved out here people would chuckle and tell us, “This isn’t the end of the world, but you can definitely see it from here.” Well, this time I actually felt that way. It was a silent, frozen world of blue and white, punctuated by brilliant gold grasses, dark boulders and flashes of blinding sulight reflecting up from the ice.

Looking south down West Bay: ice, rocks and swirls in the snowfield.
Looking south down West Bay: ice, rocks and swirls in the snowfield.

It’s not much of an island, really: a quarter-mile in length and a few yards wide, covered with grasses, shrubs and a few gaunt poplar trees, and I don’t think it has a name. But it gave me a reason to leave the shore and wander out on the ice, and I’m glad I did. My little adventure of the day!

Speaking of ice, this cold snap is good news for the organizers of the Traverse City Outdoor Classic pond hockey tournament, which will be held this Saturday and Sunday out at the new hockey grounds on Three Mile Road. (The event was originally going to be called the “Hockeytown North Outdoor Classic” and was scheduled for Jan. 14-16, but copyright problems and scheduling conflicts forced some changes along the way.) Anyway, they’ve got a fair number of teams signed up, and I think I’ll go down there and see what it’s like.

Don’t know if you’ve heard about pond hockey, but it’s spreading like wildfire across the northern U.S. and Canada. As its name suggests, the game is usually played on a frozen lake or pond – but what’s important is that it’s always played outdoors under natural conditions, with all the uncertainties of wind, sun, snow and uneven ice. There are no set numbers of players on a team, no goalies, and no hard physical contact. It’s sort of like pick-up basketball on skates. And good passing becomes extremely important, because a lost puck ends up deep inside the surrounding snowdrifts!

To learn more about the Traverse City Outdoor Classic, visit the Grand Traverse Hockey Association website at www.tchockey.com. Kind of cool!.

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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
This entry was posted in nature, Outdoor Sports, winter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Visit to a Frozen Island/Perfect Weather for Pond Hockey

  1. Nadine Jones says:

    I love the photos you have taken of our “iceland” paradise…. it is so gorgeous up here and I never get tired of seeing the lakes in any weather….

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