Embrace the Ice: Loppet on the Lake

 

If she could find a way to get paid for it, Becky would be perfectly content driving around and yelling at people and animals that can’t hear her. This is particularly pronounced at the edges of winter – her favorite targets are people in icehouses on lakes, ducks that haven’t flown south, or geese hanging out right by busy roads.

So it’s something of a miracle that she was able to put aside the impulse to scold people on frozen lakes for two weeks (this post is about the Loppet, but we also spent time on a lake for Plymouth’s Fire and Ice Festival.)

Becky: I recently learned that this trait is purely genetic. My dad had to drive to Devils Lake, ND, from his home in Gilby, ND, which is about an hour and a half. Devils Lake is a bit off because their lake is rising. So as the lake rises, it makes the ice questionable in its safety. Dad told me how he was yelling at the ice fishermen to get off the lake in his car as well.

The other feat is that I’m still pretty new to the Cities, and I still see the ducks, the geese, and the turkeys as amazing and not as a nuisance. But, when a mama duck leads her babies across a very busy intersection, I firmly believe that yelling at them in the car helps them get across. Fortunately, Joel still thinks its cute and not annoying yet.

Joel: I can’t imagine doing the Loppet last year during the polar vortex. As it was, we were bundled up in DIY winter gear. I had my old work shoes with two pairs of socks (one wool), pajama pants under jeans, t-shirt and winter coat, mittens, scarf and hat. I had a sweater and another pair of socks on standby in my backpack. I should have brought my ski mask.

I was amazed by the number of participants in this event. It was a solid 3-6 people at any point along the way, nearly all trudging counter clockwise around the 2.5 mile track of luminaries made out of ice.

Ice Luminaries
Ice Luminaries which guide you around the lake.

The first big stop on the lake was the fire dancers. Who doesn’t like some good fire dancing? It’s like watching kids who got addicted to sparkler fireworks all grown up and graduated to the next level.

And for spectators, it’s like the hypnosis of a regular fire, but times 100. I don’t know how they kept going all night, but we could see them still going at it from across the lake 2 hours later.

Becky: One particular fire dancer stood out for me. She was unlike all the others with the big stunts, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with big stunts, but she was dancing with the fire. Modern dancing with the flames to music only she could hear. I found her enchanting and fascinating.

Over the years, I’m not a big fan of taking pictures of an experience. You’re so busy trying to capture the moment on camera that you don’t get the chance to just be present. In this magical evening, Joel was in charge of the pictures, while I tried to stay in the present moment’s magic. I will say, however, in some cases, like the fire dancers, the below pictures show a different view of the fire dancer’s magic:

Fire Dancer
Fire Dancer
Fire Dancer surrounded by ice luminaries
Fire Dancer surrounded by ice luminaries

Joel: Becky and I walked arm in arm 95 percent of the time, chatting, connecting, basking in the luminaries, occasional fire pits, the Minneapolis skyline in the distance. The clouds above blocked out the stars, but a blurry nearly full moon still shone through. Underneath our feet, the snow made for the course crunched away to provide stable footing between two long tracks of glare ice on either side. Children, and some adults, had fun sliding and falling on that ice. Me, I wasn’t about to risk a sprained ankle so far away from transportation. As it was, Becky and I caught each other at least three times during the course – each time with a comment how that muscle will not be working tomorrow.

Becky: One of my favorite parts of the Loppet wasn’t designated on the map. Instead, it was a spot where we could rest. The place was surrounded by trees and looked like a primitive, rustic place. All the trees, upon entering had ice luminaries hanging from them, giving it an enchanted, spooky feeling. Very few people stopped, but Joel and I did. The shelter drew me in with branches criss-crossed holding up ice luminaries by rope:

Rustic Rest Stop
Rustic Rest Stop

See how the branches hold up these huge ice luminaries? The trees were covered in a tarp made of animal skin, and on one side was a place for Joel and I to sit and enjoy the warmth and smell of a campfire in January. Even in the below picture, you can get a sense of the rope surrounding the campfire, as well.

Campfire
Campfire

Joel: We moved from the rustic rest stop to the enchanted forest which was pure magic, with hundreds of small, candle-sized lanterns glowing away in the trees and plenty of ice artwork on the ground to check out.

Sparkling lanterns in the 'Enchanted Forest
Sparkling lanterns in the ‘Enchanted Forest
Single lantern in the Enchanted Forest
Single lantern in the Enchanted Forest

The lack of snow lately meant it was also a great place to park our butts on some dry ground for a much needed rest. The island also gave a polar bear a nice home away from home. Luckily, he wasn’t hungry.

Polar Bear
Polar Bear

Becky: As I said earlier, I am practicing the art of being present, of being in the moment. The Enchanted Forest brought forth a technique about enjoying the senses in order to stay in the present moment. I had my butt schooched next to a pine tree in the Enchanted Forest. I could smell the snow and campfires as well as the pine tree scent that I have only smelled at Itasca. I listened as the Polar Bear roared and people enjoyed the magic of the forest. I touched my Joel’s mittened hand with my mittened hand. He found me a pine cone to take with us to be able to cherish this moment. I watched as the lights twinkled like fairies in the trees and tasted some of the best hot cocoa I’ve ever had. This moment was a release from everyday life. Joel and I sat and enjoyed the present in the enchanted forest for as long as our faces could handle the cold wind. I highly recommend practicing being in the moment, especially in moments you wish to never end. I return to this moment again and again when I need a break from the everyday worries.

Joel: The Icecropolis was beautiful, and a big reason we went. Becky had that page from her Minnesota calendar on the wall for the past year. Icecropolis is the section of the Loppet where they built tall columns of ice with hanging lanterns inside. Amazing to see, difficult to figure out how the bottom fires get oxygen.

Becky: I cried when we got to the Icecropolis, although no tears were shed. It was far too cold to have active tear ducts. Here we were, in a place I dreamed of. Watch how we “embrace the ice.”

 

Joel embraces the ice.
Joel embraces the ice.
Becky embraces the ice with visible fatigue on her face.
Becky embraces the ice with visible fatigue on her face.

I never thought I would be able to finish the Loppet. But, with the help of Joel, we did it. I have a picture that I continue to look at when I believe I will never find the place I belong in my career life. I figure if we did the Loppet, there HAS to be a job out there for me.

Joel: We started at 6:30 and made it around the lake at a leisurely pace with plenty of stops by 8:45.The Loppet is necessary. It’s another chance we have in Minnesota to hold up a big middle finger to the winter that isn’t even halfway over. You’ve got to do something around here to keep your spirits up when everything is so cold and dead and ugh. In the Cities, there’s usually something most weekends somewhere outside where you can tell winter it can’t keep you down, to embrace a life of ice.

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *