Date: January 13, 2012
This is the first in a series of blog posts documenting my experiences recording ice for the forthcoming ULTIMATE ICE 2 HD SFX Library. Recorded during the week ending on January 13, 2011 with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone set to XY at 120 or 90 degrees depending on my mood. As I was leaving Round Lake today one of the ice fisherman yelled “See you around iceman” hence the name of the blog post and sound file.
This winter has been strange. Not a lot of snowfall lots of rain and then cold. A few weeks ago it rained for what seemed like days and then it got bitter cold. The snow melted, the rivers and lakes rose and then froze solid. This only happens once a season if we are lucky and it presented the perfect opportunity to record ice, some BIG ice.
Location: Springy Point State Park
This park sits on the South shore of The Pend Oreille river and is two miles from my ranch. The river level has been lowered and the shores have ice up. When it rained it filled all the pockets near the shore with lots of water. When they froze, the water evaporated and left a half inch thick sheet of ice. These left a huge air pocket under the sheet, sometimes 12 inches or more. With just the right amount of pressure with my foot I was able to break these sheets and they made a great heavy ice smash.
I also recorded the ice sheets on the river next to the shoreline. They can stretch out hundreds of feet and are constantly being pushed and shoved towards the shore by the wind. I took a careful walk out on to this thin ice and it splintered and cracked. I did fall through a few times but the water is only a few inches deep so no worries.
Location: Cocolalla Lake
Cocolalla Lake is an accessible, 800-acre year-round fishery fed by Cocolalla Creek with an average depth of 26 feet. It is popular for ice fishing in winter. Boat access is available on the northeast end adjacent to the campground. Shoreline fishing access is primarily limited to the northeast end and the east shoreline. This is where I started recording. The ice was not very thick, around 3 to 4 inches and after talking with a few fisherman, who were very cautious, I only ventured out a hundred feet or so.
When the sun rises and heats the lake it starts to flex and crack. I was able to get some decent cracking and pinging sounds but the close proximity of highway 95 made recording difficult. I did notice that you can hear the cracks coming toward you. They make subtle pings that get louder the closer they get. A very cool sound and I was lucky that a few cracks ripped very close to the microphone. During one crack I felt the ice sheet drop down a little and that’s when I decided to head back to shore. On the way I met some fisherman who showed up and they told me about Round Lake after I explained the traffic noise issue. So, I headed to Round Lake State Park which was just a few miles up the road.
Location: Round Lake State Park
Round Lake State Park is situated in 142 acres of forest surrounding a 58-acre lake at an elevation of 2,122 feet 10 miles South of Sandpoint. The lake is the product of glacial activity dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch.
When I arrived the sun was peaking in the Southern sky and I could hear some ice ping activity. It was fairly quiet except for the occasional car and train passing by in the distance. I had no idea where to set up so I began walking towards the middle. I was told by the fisherman there that the ice was 8 inches thick and possibly thicker in the middle of the lake. I worked my way out towards the middle recording 5 minutes at a time. The cracks are very unpredictable and sometimes far and few between.
As I was just about in the center of the lake I recorded a crack that went right under the microphones. There were other cracks already there and this deep sound crack was along the same line as another one. I had the microphones very close to the ice to try and minimize background noise. This worked OK but next time I might go very early in the morning when it’s much more quiet and position it a little further away. This ice cracking was amazing and the microphones don’t capture the full range of the sound for some reason. All in all it was great fun and I plan on going back as many times as I can before it snows or the lake melts away to spring.
The adventures of the North Idaho Iceman have begun. Enjoy -Frank