Walk On Water

by Sue Freeman

Yes, you can walk on water. No special talent required. Anyone who can walk, can walk on water – in winter, that is. When a crust of ice and snow forms over a creekwalking stream it transforms into a winter playground. For added traction, strap a pair of in-step crampons to the bottoms of your boots and you’re ready to walk on water.

Creekwalking streams are perfect for winter ice walking and frozen waterfall climbing. The shallow water means you won’t imperil your life if your foot breaks through the ice and the small waterfalls become ramps to scamper up.

Have you ever looked closely at a waterfall in winter? Each one is unique – a natural sculpture of ice and snow, etched by the wind and flow of water. And, depending on the previous temperatures and snowfall pattern, the sculpture changes over time. Some waterfalls freeze solid, but often a stream of water continues below the frozen crust.

Creekwalks that are challenging in summer become easy ice walks in winter. The snow and ice levels out some of the steep parts and crampons on your boots let you dig in and walk up remaining steep parts. Conklin Gully (also called Parish Glen) in Naples is this type of stream. In fact, Naples is “Ice Walking Central.” It’s where you’ll also find Clark Gully, Tannery Creek and Grimes Glen - all prime ice walking streams.

In Sonyea State Forest (Livingston County) try Keshequa Creek. This one’s easy enough to try even if you don’t have crampons. And it’s a great place for a family ice walk. Finding your way into this undeveloped state forest can be a challenge. That’s why the guidebook “200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York” comes in very handy (available at www.footprintpress.com or by calling 1-800-431-1579). Its maps and directions make finding even obscure creekwalking streams easy.

Walking on water does have its perils. Be sure to have a dry set of clothes and warm socks and boots in your car – just in case. And, take a partner along. For safety’s sake, ice walking is not recommended as a solo sport. Aside from that, it’s great fun and an enjoyable way to savor the beauty of winter.

If you don’t own or want to buy crampons, or you prefer to enjoy your wintry outings in the camaraderie of other adventurous souls, check out the guided trips offered by Pack, Paddle Ski (www.packpaddleski.com). These are the folks who introduced me to the joys of ice walking. They provide the crampons, a map to the starting location, guidance throughout the trip, fun and frivolity along the way, and often a refreshing meal or snack. They’ll teach you how to walk on water – a skill you probably never dreamed you’d master.

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