"I felt choose a penguin top top a giant treadmill. The Canadian coastline just did no seem to be getting any bigger."
Editor"s Note:This story was initially published in the December 1978 worry of Cleveland Magazine. We"ve republished it as part of our historical Read of the week series, in which us revive standard pieces indigenous the magazine"s archives. Read much more about Dave Voelker"s walk as part of our "30 Myths That specify Cleveland" December 2019 sheathe package.

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On February 18, castle made their crossing together planned. Well, not fairly as planned. I had said that a two-day pilgrimage would be a far better idea, since 30 miles to be too much for six relatively out-of-shape persons to hike in one shot. The critical stretch of ice would need to be covered in darkness, which, an unified with fatigue, would reduce the safety variable to a danger low. Rather of getting to the Ontario coast slightly tired at 7 p.m., they arrived at 11 p.m., completely exhausted. Toward the end, just staying on your feet to be a genuine struggle.Meanwhile, i hadn"t exit my very own plans because that a solo crossing. The spelunkers" standard success showed that the course was passable; the ice cream was hard the entirety way. Unknown to them, i had currently called the coast Guard prior to their leave to discover out whatever they might tell me about the lake in winter. I fifty percent expected a frenzied lecture on ice safety, v a desperate plea to resolve for walking across the fountain on Cleveland"s Mall. Surprisingly, I found the shore Guard policemans to be concerned and extremely helpful, offering safety tips around ice characteristics and the advantages of specific wind directions. Sure, they discouraged the idea, but they acknowledged they to be powerless to prohibit such crossings, and also they might too make certain the participants take it as plenty of precautions together possible. The adhering to week i tried to uncover at the very least one other person to go through me, however no one was an especially crazy around the idea. If ns was really bent on going, that looked prefer I would have to go alone. In ~ the outset, when so much was uncertain, I would certainly not also have taken into consideration a solo hike, but I had gathered my really hopes sufficiently that, by then, I can undertake the expedition by myself and still feel fairly secure — also though, by venturing out alone, ns was break the cardinal ascendancy of outdoor safety. Ns rationalized it together an inescapable necessity, but the truth is 1 was secretly relieved no to have to share with anyone an endure that was bound to be at when ennobling and also humbling — and profoundly personal.I made decision to make the expedition the weekend ~ the very first expedition, taking two days to perform it. The temperature had been below freezing because that over 30 days and also promised to continue to be down there v the weekend. I can look forward to a cold and windy hike. My equipment included a backpack, a tent, a resting bag, two huge empty water bags inserted in the bottom the the load for flotation, an ice ax (a one-of-a-kind ice rise tool), a red flare and a two-channel walkie-talkie. Total pack weight: around 40 pounds. In addition, I brought my camera and tripod to document my cross on film. This account is lifted from a mini-journal I retained along the way, broadened when I gained home to include observations the numb finger precluded from record on the spot.

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3 p.m.: "Only the an excellent Die Young." For some reason, ns couldn"t obtain that stunner Billy Joel song out of my head. This to be the farthest I"d to be from land. I might barely see eastern Sister Island (Canada) ahead, yet knew i wouldn"t do it over there by nightfall. The solid northwest wind to be slowing my pace. The immensity that the lake was beginning to impress me, yet the only analogy I could think of to explain how dwarfed i felt was "a item of sausage sandwiched in between two huge slices of white bread." Cold go funny things to the an innovative faculty.

6:30 p.m.: Darkness was imminent, and also I to be beat. Conditioned by years of endure in camping, i intuitively began looking roughly for a an excellent place to key my tent, climate realized foolishly that one point out is as an excellent as the next. According to the positions that eastern Sister and Hwen Islands populated on the horizon, i figured my camp to be ideal on the international boundary. It took me a half hour come erect my time in the wind and, together always, crawling right into my warmth sleeping bag after an arduous day was a near-orgasmic experience. Ns fired increase my small camp stove and also supped splendidly on crate spaghetti through Vienna sausages, oblivious to the swirling, frigid wasteland that lay just exterior my comfortable quarters.

7:30 p.m.: I assumed I would offer my walkie-talkie a try. That normal variety is only a few miles at best, but broad open locations are an alleged to enhance reception and also transmission greatly. "Breaker 19 because that a northbound top top this below Lake Erie. Anyone copy?" Fuzzy static. "I"m out here on the lake. Have the right to anybody choose up my signal?" still nothing. "Would that make any difference if I had actually a broken leg, interior bleeding and also frostbite?" more static. So much for my valuable radio link.

8:30 p.m.: i stepped exterior the tent to relax myself one final time, and met the step that, much more than any other on the trip, would end up being firmly imprinted on mine memory. The wind had died down to a dead calm, and also my thermometer review 20 degrees. The stars were out in full force, and I could see shimmering lights onthree shores. Except for the drone that an sometimes invisible plane, the silence was complete and overwhelming. It was a peaceful, striking image, and also as ns beheld the rare beauty the a frozen lake in the dead of night, i felt own by a satisfying and also impregnable serenity. For that emotion alone, the trip was worthwhile.

Back right into my cozy resting bag i crawled, acquisition my water bottle through me so that wouldn"t freeze overnight. I fell asleep instantly.

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There space some civilization who room trying to do it illegal come walk throughout the lake. However they"ll never ever do it, not as long as we have a Constitution. Long walking is a bona fide recreational use of the lake, definitely no much less legitimate than fishing or water skiing.

Colin Fletcher renders the allude much better than ns in his book, The complete Walker. Come those who still wonder why anyone would desire to walk throughout Lake Erie, this excerpt comes as close to response as you"re going come get:

If you judge security to it is in the paramount consideration in life, you must avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Never ever cross an intersection versus a red light, even when you deserve to see that all roads are clear for miles. And never, that course, discover the offal of an idea that appears as if it could threaten one of your an ext cherished beliefs. In your wisdom, you will probably live to a ripe old age.

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But you may discover, just prior to you die, the you have been dead because that a long, lengthy time.