Blog: February 2015

The Ice Groaned
February 11, 2015

The ice groaned. I had my Trekker student leaders out for a mid-January late night walk along the trail to Catfish Pond in the Delaware Water Gap where the Appalachian Trail cuts through New Jersey.  The temperature outside the cabin door read 17 degrees. No wind made for a clear, crisp night where we could see the Milky Way.  Students were challenged to be silent as we hiked single file along the icy path. 

We could only hear the sounds our boots made as they crunched the ice and frozen snow under our feet.  After a short while, we approached the pond, one of the southernmost glacial lakes carved out during the last ice age that created the geography of the Appalachian Mountains in New Jersey.

The lake surface was a solid sheet of ice floating on top of the water. To my amazement, not one of my ten students or two young staff members had ever set foot on a frozen lake.  They were all in awe as we stepped out cautiously onto the icy surface.

Soon the sounds of the ice creaking echoed into the still night.  My Trekkers were concerned: "Mr. C, it sounds like there are animals trapped under the ice." "What are those sounds?"  After a while, though, confidence grew. Students felt safe.  Now was a time to explore not only the surface and the sounds, but how we might play on this glass-like field.

First off, I had everyone lie down on the ice, put their ears to the cold surface, and listen.  They heard the hidden waters sloshing under the solid ice surface and listened to the sounds of ice expanding and constricting from the changes in temperature.  We began a game of human shuffleboard- sliding one another across the frictionless surface.  A competition was inevitably created with all the girls sitting in a tucked position and in their individual lanes with the boys pushing them to see who could slide the furthest. 

We were silly and childlike, making up our games as we played under the stars on a frigid night. We were far from the city.  We were all children once again.  I loved it.


Keep on Trekking,

Jim Cummings
Director of Experiential Learning

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