Patience paid off for a group of Whatcom County hockey fans this week, as they waited for Squalicum Lake to freeze over before venturing out on the ice.
The region’s recent cold snap made the impromptu pond hockey game possible, said Adam Angeli of Bellingham. The lake surface first froze over in December, but the ice wasn’t thick enough to skate on until Wednesday.
“The snow turned to wet slush and froze, so it’s a little bumpy,” Angeli said. “There were 5 or 6 people out skating on Wednesday afternoon and 12 or 15 on Thursday afternoon.”
It’s unusual for Squalicum Lake – best known for trout fishing in summer months – to freeze well enough to skate on, he said, as it only happens every few years.
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With temperatures forecast to rise over the weekend, it’s unlikely the skating will last.
Angeli and others caution people to not venture out onto unsafe ice. Earlier this week, fire crews in Lynnwood had to rescue two children who fell through thin ice while playing on a pond.
So-called “wild ice” skating is as dangerous as backcountry skiing, according to lakeice.squarespace.com, a blogger for skaters, skiers and snowmobilers, because skaters not only need the right equipment, but the knowledge and skills required to stay out of trouble.
Most ice needs to be at least four inches thick to be safe to walk on, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
If kids are interested in trying hockey for free – on an indoor rink – the Whatcom County Aamateur Hockey Association puts on a “Try Hockey for Free“ event twice a year. The next event is on February 25 at the Bellingham Sportsplex. It requires registration in advance.