About three years ago, I came across this link, where a man named Davy Crockett (yes, I love the Kentucky Headhunters, too) documented his run across Utah Lake’s icy surface. I was fascinated by how fun it looked as he showed periodic video of his run to Bird Island and back to the Utah Lake State Park.
For three years and from time to time, I’d go back and
watch his video, dreaming of my own run on Utah Lake’s ice. Just over a week ago, I took my first run on Utah Lake, after it had been sufficiently cold to freeze the marina at Utah Lake State Park. I ran about three miles, keeping the marina close to me, just in case something happened. After all- I am new to running on icy lakes and didn’t want to get in over my head, so to speak.
About a week ago, I made the decision that I’d make a crossing as soon as weather permitted. And then we had a week of 0 degree, -2 degree, -8 degree nights! Perfect. It’s one of the first times I’ve cheered on weather that I typically despise. The colder the weather, the safer the ice. I
mean, I think.
So yesterday I alerted the only couple of people I know that would be stupid/crazy/kind enough to escort me over such a crossing- my brother in law, Lynn, and my good friend Patrick. Both hated my request. It was obvious. Patrick didn’t want to talk to me and I’m not sure that Lynn was any more excited to listen to me explain why this was a great idea. But they were up against a three year dream, so I was relentless.
Finally both caved. Both backed out, caved again, then backed out. With only a couple more hours until the run, Lynn finally committed and Patrick got stuck with work, so he couldn’t make it.
I met Lynn at my house and he grumbled about danger as I lied to him about safety.
I kissed my wife and kids goodbye (hopefully not?) and we were off.
I parked my truck at the end of the North jetty in Utah Lake State Park and hoped everyone would leave it alone. I gambled it wouldn’t get too much attention. I mean, it’s like 15 degrees. Who wants to go out to the lake in 15 degrees?
I do. Lynn didn’t, but hey- here he was. So we climbed, carefully down the jetty rocks to the lake’s surface and stepped out. I heard a crack. I lied, again, and told Lynn everything felt and looked good. It didn’t. But it wasn’t bad, either. It was “middle”.
And I knew that we could at least venture out to test it a little more.
We made it out one mile. I asked Lynn if he was having fun. He said he was fine. See? Now we were both lying.
About two miles in to our run, I looked North and saw a figure running easy. I’m pretty sure it was Davy Crocket, King of the Ice Frontier. He was alone, running like he ran on water, every day. He didn’t see us, though, because on Facebook he questioned whether I’d gone out. Davy had stopped a couple of miles from the east shore, because a fissure in the ice compromised his route. I guess we were lucky, because, while we had a pretty nasty fissure to go over, it was passable. Anyway, it was really fun seeing him out there. I’m pretty sure that the three of us were the only ones making crossings over the 148 square
mile surface of the lake. Just in case that was misleading, Lynn and I were only crossing about a six mile area. With Davy, you never know. The guy runs 100 milers and seems to think nothing of it. I think something of it. I think a lot of something of it.
Lynn started mentioning something about how close we were to my truck, were we to turn back, so I was happy when finally hit the three mile mark, smack dab in the middle of the ice. No turning back, now, Lynn. Mouhahahahaha…
And with that, we stopped and turned around. And around. Nothing for miles. Quiet ice. Occasional cracking somewhere, far down the ice. Footprints of some
lost animal. This animal, I guarantee, found no food on this lake. I found a feather at one point. A feather anywhere else wouldn’t stop me. This one got it’s picture taken, because it stood out against the white, desert-like snow.
As the sun started to go down, we knew things were getting colder (and we’d started off at 15 degrees), so we picked up our pace a bit. We could see the West shore
was close, so we were encouraged. I told Lynn that the closer we got to shore, the more cautious we should be. Land warms the water, even in these crazy-cold months, and so there tends to be more fragile ice as you move closer to your destination. But we made it to land without incident.
We were too far North. Somewhere, in my perfect
calculations, I’d guided us about a mile too far to the North. And I’m an Eagle Scout. A very direction-impaired Eagle Scout. But I was thrilled. We were alive. Now all we had to do was walk for a mile in deep snow, cross two barbed-wire fences (yeah, I know- we were probably trespassing, but we were sort of cold and desperate, too), walk up two banks to finally get to the road (hwy 68), and meet Lynn’s daughter, who was kind enough to drive all the way from Provo and get us.
So now I’m at home, all snuggled up in a blanket. I’m relieved. I feel like I can finally relax. I’ve been so stressed about this run (for years, literally), that I’ve been a little obsessed. Ask Wendy. Ask anyone I work with. I’ve been
trying to get this little run off of the ground for a long time. Now it’s over.
Utah Lake has become a year-round playground for me. I have swam, kayaked, water-skied, and now run across it. Utah Lake offers more than most know. It is a large, weird, awesome, historical and beautiful lake.