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Last weekend I got to walk on a frozen lake.

I’d never done that before. I’ve lived in places where lakes freeze, but never walked on their frozen surfaces. I think I’m a little afraid of lakes.

But dozens of people were out on this lake. Some wore skis. Some had dog sleds. Most walked. And many of the men looked as large as I am, so I felt confident that I could go out with no problems.

I was probably right.

But after crossing half the distance to the lake’s main attraction — the glacier that feeds it — my wife and I saw a beautiful waterfall off to the right. No path led over the lake’s surface to the fall, but we thought we’d take the risk and see if we could get near that sight.

As we walked, we began seeing cracks in the ice. Soon we took a step that made the ice beneath us shift and crackle.

Perhaps we could have continued. Neither of us had any experience walking on frozen lakes. Maybe that’s normal. But we turned around and went back to the main path, which we felt must have been safer because so many people had successfully walked it.

We continued toward the glacier for a while (making only one more attempt to cross to the fall), but soon we felt we should turn back altogether. We did, and on the return across the main path, we continued to feel shifting and hear cracking — all of which had been absent on our initial crossing.

Was I wrong to fear? Is this sort of thing normal when walking on frozen lakes?

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