Bill has talked about ice skating the Matanuska river for years, and I have always been highly skeptical. When he said the conditions were just right, I suspended my disbelief, and met him at Hicks creek with my ice skates.
The river was frozen...mostly. The textures of the ice flowed from translucent glass to opaque blues to snow covered, sometimes all within a few yards. There were hidden hazards like camouflaged overflow, air pockets and rocks.
Me Covered in Over Flow
The best part of falling through the overflow is that it froze to my pants before it fully penetrated the long underwear. There were some spectacular wrecks, Bill told me he saw me in full super woman form flying through the air, when gravity brought me back to the ground, all the air left my lungs. If you look close in the photo below you can see my initial folly through the ice on the bottom right, and then me in a heap.
Yes I made that Big Hole
There was a little bit of slogging through some snow berms,and over gravel bars, but not nearly as bad as I expected.
This adventure proved to be a little too tough for Bill's new cross country ski boot ice skates, and one of his blades just fell off. After some field repairs things looked good, but once weight was put on it fell off again. So Bill did the one skate with a blade and one without, till the frame was so mangled that he eventually had to switch to one boot, one ice skate. It was pretty hilarious, but he made it work.
Despite the painful falls, this adventure was one of the most fun things I have ever done. It was amazing to cover 20 river miles on ice skates, I never thought it was truly possible, and was happy to be proven wrong.
Slide Show: Some of Bills Pics