Lake Fairlee on a Winter Day: Ice Shanty Ghost Town?

All Quiet on the Frozen Front

On Tuesday of this week, 2/5/19, I took a ride along the Connecticut River, up Rt. 5  to Fairlee, and over to Post Mills. While at Lake Fairlee I took a walk out on the ice.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures getting up into the high 40's, and bright sunshine.   The lake must have been active over the weekend, but it looked like all the folks who owned the ice shanties were off somewhere else at the time.  I had the whole lake to myself!

Lake Fairlee.  View of Ice Shanties on the frozen lake.  2/6/2019

When I worked in Post Mills, I used to walk my golden retriever, Mickey, during my lunch hour.  Sometimes in Winter we’d go out on the ice and chat with folks who were ice fishing.  Being back at Lake Fairlee always brings back fond memories for me.  I was surprised to see no one out fishing on such a fine morning.

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I took a walk out onto the lake, and took some photos and a video of interesting ice shanties and the shoreline.  What an interesting time of year.  The difference between Winter and Summer, is amazing.  In Summer the population soars.  It’s so busy there from late May through Labor Day every Summer, with many camps open on the lake.  During Winter it gets much quieter.  On this particular day it was extremely quiet, except for the occasional logging truck driving by, getting the logs out before mud season begins. 

A small barn-like shanty

A nicely repurposed pop-up camper

This one looks like it's heated, and luxurious and comfortable inside!

Ice shanties, or bobhouses, come in many different shapes and sizes, offering room for a lot of creativity.

Ice fishing is something that's been done on this lake for centuries.  The native populations fished through the ice for survival, and probably knew that you need to check the thickness of the ice before trusting it completely before walking on it.  The comfort level has improved, but it's still a very basic activity, designed for people with a lot of patience, and a love for the great outdoors, sometimes in harsh conditions. 

As I looked around I noticed what I thought might have been some remaining cabins of Camp Passumpsic, though they may have been moved there from another camp.  Little rustic cabins dotted the shoreline on the west side of Passumpsic Point.  I've seen passumpsic defined as "clear, sandy bottom" and "clear running water", derived from the Abenaki Native Americans' language. 

Cabins on Passumpsic Point

Last Summer there was an old camp for sale over there, near the boat landing.  It looked like it had seen many happy summers, but now it appeared to be in need of a new steward.  I'm wondering how seaworthy that boat in front of it will be when the ice thaws!

                    Old camp that was for sale last year, with a very cold boat!

While out on the lake, I took a 360 degree video of the shanties and shoreline. 

It was so peaceful, and such a beautiful morning.  Here is the one minute video, with added audio from a few springtime birds...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qLk3UC7-to

And a reminder of Summers long ago....the former ice cream shop.

As always, focus should be on safety when going out onto the ice.  Here is some important information from the state of Vermont:  https://vtfishandwildlife.com/newsroom/ice-safety-tips-this-winter-season

Thanks for reading "Old Roads, Rivers and Rails" - Bob Totz

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