Travel lessons from ice fishing

Travel can be like walking on a frozen lake. Although logic tells you it’s safe, it’s hard to ignore the stomach-churn of vulnerability. Your first few steps might be cautious, but soon you’re jumping, stomping, and sliding.

Here are some other similarities between travel and ice fishing, courtesy of a family trip to New Hampshire’s Grassy Pond on Christmas Eve:

  • Getting a grip is your responsibility. Sometimes the ice is covered in snow, its surface just like the ground you’ve left. Other times, you’ll step from gravel to slick black ice, and you better have brought your ice creepers (mini-crampons). How do you keep your footing while traveling? A phrasebook, cultural awareness, iodine tablets, glacier glasses, resourcefulness, what else?
  • Don’t freak out, things are settling into place. Ice releases unnerving quakes and pops (and even visible cracks) as it settles and adjusts. Although it’ll feel like your world is out of control — and it is — the result is increased stability and support. Travel also has its moments of nervous uncertainty which serve to establish and reinforce your relationship to the road.
  • Danger lurks in fast currents. If you’re going to run into problems, it’s likely to be where the action is. Sounds self-explanatory, except that the action is often under the surface. With a bit of research and a keen eye, however, you’ll know how to skirt the thin-ice trouble spots. And if you have to risk it, at least have an exit strategy.
  • Today and tomorrow might have nothing in common. Ice conditions can radically change in 24 hours or less. Travel is just as unpredictable, and rewards adaptability just the same.
  • Sometimes you’ll get your bait stolen. Neither fish nor stories like to show up on schedule. They prefer to make a fool of you while you’re trying to hook ’em.  They’ll tease you, make your investment vanish, and elude your grasp. No matter — the big ones that get away tend to come back and bite when you least expect it.
  • Don’t forget the Gluvine. Red wine with apples, oranges, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon (or share your own recipe below), heated over a fire. Take time to balance things out by kicking back with your favorite cup of relaxation.

While ice fishing and traveling, you’re suspended between two worlds. By poking holes in the barrier, you can find sustenance. It’s a rare pursuit — many have never had the chance or are afraid to try. Others take it further and are only satisfied by complete submersion.

What about you? How thick (or thin) is the ice you travel on?

Photo “Ice Fishing” by Marion Warling via sankax‘s Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | December 30, 2009
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Advice

3 Responses to “Travel lessons from ice fishing”

  1. holaratcha Says:

    love the posts, read vagabonding a while back and passed it on to a friend who is currently on his first 6 week excursion in Southeast Asia.

    life is interesting how you can hear it (life) in many different forms. Cheers to you and your team Rolf.

  2. Susan Fox Says:

    Learning to be ok with psychological and/or emotional discomfort or disorientation, recognizing it and accepting that that’s how I’m feeling at that moment has made being out in the boonies of a country like Mongolia much easier, especially since I’ve mostly traveled alone with a guide/driver and haven’t learned the language yet. But I’m working on that.