Saturday, March 4, 2023

Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights a snowy success despite lack of wind

Trumpeter Swans

Well, we had our sixth January thaw this week as the temperature got up to 51 [degrees] on Tuesday [Feb. 21] and 49 [degrees] on Wednesday [Feb. 22.] [The temperature] dipped down, so it could snow Thursday [Feb. 23] morning about six inches. Then the temperature went up all day, and hovered right around freezing. When Karen came home from the library, it was 28 degrees and raining which put a razor-sharp crust on what snow we had. Then it zipped down below zero and didn’t get much above zero all day Friday [Feb. 24]. We got a couple more inches of snow and then right during Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights activities it snowed more, but not a wisp of wind for the kite fliers [on] Saturday afternoon [Feb. 25].

Some of the folks to the west and south of us got snow, freezing rain, and rain which caused many roads to be closed over mountain passes in California and Utah. They got five feet [in certain] places, and it was still falling there tonight, February 26. They got snow in California in places that had never seen snow before and a lot of rain where it didn’t snow. Ice [was] taking down trees and power lines on the in-between zones and causing tornadoes in those areas…even one in New Jersey. Michigan also had lots of ice damage to power lines. We just got lucky, either we had snow or rain, the temperature didn’t seem to matter. I saw some skiers go by out back on Thursday enjoying the new powder, but those tracks sure got slick with the freezing rain Thursday night. The ski centers making snow must be pulling their hair out with all these changing conditions from one day to the next.


The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have a death toll of over 50,000 and 2 hundred million left homeless [as of this Feb. 27 writing]. Many of them are living in tent cities or in their backyards and many [are] without any shelter. There have been many aftershocks. Several builders have been arrested for poor construction, but that doesn’t bring back the dead. The clean up of the trainwreck in East Palestine, Ohio goes on with earth and water being removed from the contaminated area. Many agencies are working in the area, but residents still aren’t happy with all the results and fear their lives will never be the same living in that area. The train tracks have been reopened.

Cardboard sled race in Inlet

Inlet plow truck sled at this year’s Frozen Fire and Lights cardboard sled races. Photo by Gary Lee.

Not too far away a hopper car derailed by South Junction Road near Plattsburgh on Wednesday. It was carrying dry-powered granular goods and no hazardous materials. The train car has been removed. Saturday started off cloudy at -8 here at Eight Acre Wood and didn’t get much above 10 [degrees] all day, but very little wind. I had 66 Evening Grosbeaks that morning and you could see breath come out of their beaks every time they picked up a new seed. I banded six that morning. My White-Throated Sparrow is still hanging in there. He probably felt right at home when the Red Wing Blackbirds came last week, but they left going further north. Some Snow Geese are at the north end of Lake Champlain and a pair of Trumpeter Swans are hanging out for a couple weeks in the marsh just north of the Ausable Point Campground.


Inlet’s Frozen Fire & Lights hit the only weekend all winter that had snow and cold, but no wind for the big kites. The sliding hill was fast, but only a couple cardboard racers made it to the finish line on their own, others had to be pushed or carried in pieces. There were some good spills and tumbles while racers came down the hill. [There were also] a few neat creative racers, one was the Inlet Plow truck complete with a plow on the front which made it down within a couple feet of the finish line. The last one down the hill was a rowboat that was a bit bow-heavy, carrying five riders that went under about halfway down.


Everyone was having fun and no ambulance runs [were] needed. From there, I went down to the kite fliers on Fourth Lake, but without any wind the big kites couldn’t fly… same as two years ago. The kids who made and painted their kites could fly them if they ran fast enough. It was snowing so hard that you could hardly pick out their kites in the sky. The outhouse races followed, and the sidelines were full of people. Manzi’s Sh*ts and Giggles Privy was back to defend the winning title from last year. Two other competitors were the Holy Crap Batman Privy and Privy Pushers. The Batman Privy won the first heat over the Privy Pushers and then the Giggles Privy won the next two heats, winning the top prize…a new roll of toilet paper. They needed it to clean up the mess they left on the track. It doesn’t take too much to have fun in Inlet in winter.


More snow is coming this week. Maybe winter is here, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Trumpeter Swans. Photo by Ellie George.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Boreas says:

    If there are people out there who have never seen a Trumpeter Swan, this is likely the best view of them you will ever get. As the picture above shows, they are typically very close and quite tame – especially if you stay in your car. If you get a chance, check them out before they depart. Some people seem content to sit and watch them all day!

    There have also been about a dozen Redhead ducks – usually farther offshore, but occasionally they come in close. They aren’t terribly common either at Ausable Point.

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