Through The Ice !!

Bob Shem Photo.

December 2014

There's a vehicle at the bottom of

this hole.........see below.


An Evening at the Mayfields : 12-5-14



First rescue mission of the year.

We have been warning people for a couple of weeks not to trust the ice on the west end of the lake but many people are tempted, might I say attracted, to try traveling to the west end because the roads are so great on the east end and, of course, there are no warning signs to stop people.

So, as Cathy and I sit in our easy chairs at 1 AM watching the last part of a show, we see two headlights come down the lake. As these headlights reach the a...rea near Bentz Island, they disappear, we see taillights and then nothing. Cathy and I jump into our snow gear and boots and then jump onto our 4-wheelers heading for Bentz. When we arrive, we find two guys waving us down. They had safely gotten out of the vehicle while it was sinking, just barely.

These two guys actually complained that there should have been warning signs posted on the road to warn people not to continue.

Big Lake ice has claimed it's newest addition. A 2013 Denali. Please folks, do not trust the west end of the lake unless you have measured the ice along your route. May I suggest that businesses and individuals on the east end, warn people and post notices that the ice is unsafe on this end. It may help. Now 3:14 AM and overdue for bed.




This was tonight, he figured there was good ice everywhere but didn't know about the channels between the lakes. Jeff Ross talked with him and he saw the reflectors and thought he could drive through it. NEVER drive through the channels. I don't care if its 40 below.  They marked it off the best he could at both ends.

Use the roads between the channels folks, unless you want to wind up on





I see we made the front page of the Anchorage newspaper this morning. Looks like a third truck tried to make it through the channel.

It's good to see the article. It might spread the word to visitors and keep this from happening before someone gets hurt!

Without berms, it's so tempting for people to try to go the "easy way" from one lake to the other. The locals all know, but folks that aren't familiar with the area don't. Maybe the article will help.

"First you take a right at Cracked Ice Road, left on Overflow Lane, another left on Clear Water will get to the lake. Good luck!"


Maybe we need bigger signs??

Bob Shem photo


12/16/13 First Through the Ice 2013-13

Hi Larry,

A guy from Willow was following his buddies on the way to the Islander on Sunday, and fell through the channel on a new Polaris that he’d borrowed from a friend. The machine was successfully recovered this afternoon by the rider, the owner of the machine, and

another friend of theirs who’d also been on the fateful ride. He luckily had seen his friend drop through, and stopped before running over him, or joining him in the drink. They retrieved the machine today out of about 4

feet of water. The temperatures at the time were hovering around minus 8, which didn’t make their job any easier, but they were well equipped and even appeared to still be friends when they were done.

The channel will be quite rough from the broken ice on that side, so snowmachiners who normally blast through there will have to watch out for stray chunks of ice.



Flat Lake channel

Using plywood to lever the machine out of

the hole

And onto the shore

Recovery at minus 8° F

Up comes the machine

Aside from vehicles, people sometimes fall through the ice unassisted by

heavy machinery when the fates have decided they need to cool off.


5/7/11 Larry falls through the ice.

I called Dale and he called Shawn and Larry, who skipped their snowmachines to shore and shoved Styrofoam blocks out for me to climb out on. The ice shard I'm holding is eleven inches long, so that's the ice depth. No thickness of shard ice is safe.

Shawn Veech photo


Carolyn fell through 50 feet in front of the Haggard cabin, and survived. 11/19/07 - Carolyn Haggard photo


Taylor, "Is the hole frozen over now?"

Carolyn, "I don't know, and I'm not all that anxious to find out."



Last in, first out:

The last vehicle to go through the ice in 2009 was a snowmachine that broke through in the Flat Lake Channel on New Year's Eve. It was then the first pulled out in 2010. Photos when everyone was dried off and warmly dressed that morning are posted in the center and right columns to remind people not to drive (or ride) through the channels (which are now posted "Thin Ice"). Water flows through the channels and at the Big Lake outlet at Fish Creek, keeping the ice thin even though it was -10 ºF New Year's Eve. (It was the second snowmachine that went through after the first broke the ice.) - Larry Taylor


Okay, where do we hook onto it?

What's that warning sign on the bushes?

Aha! The sign says "Thin Ice".

Good Dad retrieving the machine

Maybe it looks ok, but don't ride through the channels!

Warm and safe after going through the ice in the Flat Lake channel.

Be Careful!

Channel ice report 12/7/08

Two snowmachiners went into the Flat Lake channel in the dark last night, riding side by side. When the young lady I spoke with realized she was going through the ice, she was most frightened because she can't swim. She stood on top of her machine until her partner came back with help. She had never heard of the problem with thin ice in the channels. They returned today to do a little of what their rescuers called "redneck fishing." - Larry Taylor (with thanks to Carolyn for the alert)


A rescuer hooking up to the second machine.

I watched them pull out this machine, and then found out there was another.

Second machine coming out of the Flat Lake channel.

Another truck down!

This one was on the the West End of Big Lake ... and was the 2nd vehicle to go thru this spot caused by ice fishermen drilling holes directly in the road. Happy Hooker got it out around 9pm Monday (4/16/07).



Hey Larry did you get pics of the truck that went through the ice today between mud and flat lake??? This must have happened between 930 and 1230 this am....the windshield wipers were still going when I got there, Mike called the troopers for me and was told they already got the person or persons that is good news..!! Anna...11/18/08

Hi gang,

I don't think you're supposed to drive when you do a

"Polar Bear Plunge." I imagine the 2 people standing

on the roof of this truck were pretty cold by the time

the fire department got a ladder to them that they could climb to shore. It was about 5 below at the time.

Brrrrrr. 11/18/08


Judy Strong got some good pictures of yesterday's mishap at the channel, and has shared them with us. (Yeah, don't do anything you don't want the world to see if you're on Flat Lake!)


Note the suited up emergency worker under the ladder

making sure the cold, wet survivor doesn't have to get

into the ice water again.

© 2014 Rob Nuss    907