SANDWICH- The ice harvest is a tradition that has been going on for more than a century at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps, and due to a strange start to winter with unseasonably warm temperatures, the start has been delayed slightly.
Camp manager John Jurczynski has been monitoring the ice on a daily basis and believes they should be able to start the harvest sometime around Jan. 19.
“The earliest I’d say we’ll be doing it is a week from Tuesday — a day after Martin Luther King Day,” Jurczynski said. “Realistically, it will be the following Monday, but it really all depends on the weather.”
He said surprisingly, this isn’t too much later than normal, as last year the harvest started about a week earlier than this year’s projection. The starting date tends to vary, with two occasions happening as early as the week between Christmas and New Year’s and others, like in 2014, being as late as Feb. 7.
“Normally mid-January is the time we do it,” said Jurczynski. “We’ll be close to that, and maybe a little bit later.”
There are two locations where the harvest has occurred. Jurczynski said on Saturday that Squaw Cove has more than seven inches of ice, while the historic location of Deep End has next to nothing. Twelve inches of ice is required for the harvest to happen, and he said unless something drastically changes, they will be harvesting in Squaw Cove. He said there is a 99 percent chance they will be at Squaw Cove.
“Odds are, we will be harvesting from Squaw Cove,” said Jurczynski.
Jurczynski said about 15 years ago, there was a similar winter with mild temperatures. Ice wasn’t forming in Deep End, so they sought out Squaw Cove to continue the harvest. He said with only a few inches of ice that year, they became nervous and started searching for a spot that was more protected. They found Squaw Cove and now it has become one of their harvesting spots.
Jurczynski said with the rain on Sunday, it should actually work out fine for the ice because the temperatures are expected to drop as the week goes on. He said issues arise when there is too much wind or snow, as the snow will insulate things and decrease the speed of the growth of ice. Fortunately, there is not much for snow in the forecast.
The ice harvest is an annual tradition on Squam Lake, and one of the last remaining ones in the entire country. While the camp has been open since 1897, organizers have to make educated guesses on how long the tradition has been going. Back in the day, there were no trucks and chainsaws. Instead, there were horses pulling the ice from the lake.
Each year, a crew of about a dozen people cut through the ice with a massive straight saw and several chainsaws. Many have been involved for many years, including Norman Lyford, who has been helping cut the ice for more than seven decades. He learned from his father, Colby, when he was only a teenager.
Each ice cake is about 12 inches-by 15 inches-by 19 inches. The ice is moved along in an assembly line fashion, being pushed with long sticks, and taken up on a ramp into a pickup truck. The truck then takes the blocks of ice to a couple of ice houses named Rockywold and Deephaven that are lined with saw dust for insulation.
Each block weighs about 120 pounds and each year there is more than 200 tons of ice harvested. There are about 1,200 blocks harvested per day. The process tends to last about three days.
Each cabin at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps is equipped with an old-fashioned ice box instead of modern refrigeration units. There was actually a time when the camp toyed with the idea of having mini-fridges in the camps, but this was frowned upon by guests.
During the summer, ice is distributed to the cabins to be put into the ice boxes for keeping food and beverage items cold. Guests generally stay at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps for a 14-week period over the summer.
Here are some photographs by Eric Morse of the recent Ice Harvest on Squam Lake.
RDC Ice Harvest Video February 2013 on Squam Lake, NH. GoPro Video by Eric Morse and William Morse. Ice Harvest Crew: Norman Lyford, John Jurczynski, Bill Sharkey, Jon Spence, Doug Adams, Eric Morse, Scott Hale, Keith Hosking, Mac McComas, Norm Spencer, David & CC White, Bruce Whitemore, Wayne Thompson and Ron Reynolds. Delicious food prepared by Kathy Wheeler and Becky Frost.
Meet the 86-year-old master of the Ice Harvest
HOLDERNESS, NH. —A master of a fading art, Norman Lyford, 86, is still cutting huge blocks of ice on Big Squam Lake for summer ice boxes after 68 years on the job.
Here is a time lapse video of the RDC Ice Harvest on February 10, 2013. It is fun to see the ice blocks move to the channel at high speed. Filmed with a GoPro Hero 2 taking a photo every 2 seconds for 41 minutes = 1,236 photos and 41 seconds of video. We put up 2,020 blocks in Rockywold and 1,590 in Deephaven for a total of 3,610 blocks. At 120 pounds per block that comes out to 216 tons of lake ice!
Ice Harvest to begin Thursday, February 7th
HOLDERNESS — After several postponements and much uncertainty, the annual Ice Harvest at Rockywold Deephaven Camps will begin on Thursday morning and go until Saturday.
John Jurczynski, Rockywold Deephaven co-general manager, said, Tuesday, that the ice conditions are finally at the point they needed for the ice harvest, a tradition that has taken place at Rockywold Deephaven Camps for over 100 years. He explained that, if conditions hold, and the ice and equipment cooperate, the entire operation should take three full days to complete.
“The ice looks good and we will be starting everything on Thursday morning,” Jurczynski said. “If all goes right it should be done by Saturday.”
For those interested in the event, Jurczynski said that people should come by the winter office called Roswell. At the office, staff will warn ice truck drivers that people will be on the roads, as well as give directions for parking. They will also explain the best ways to walk to the ice field or the ices houses.
“This operation normally takes place mid-week making it difficult for working folks and school aged children to observe the harvest,” Jurczynski wrote in an e-mail to those interested in the Ice Harvest. “A Saturday ice harvest at RDC is a rare opportunity.”
He recommends that those who go to the event wear some form of crampons and dress warm. While various aspects of the operation take place from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the best times to view the operation are from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Jurczynski said that in his 23 years at RDC, this year has turned out to be one of the later ice harvests that he has been a part of. This was due to the recent wild weather that involved rain, warm temperatures and wind. It caused the ice to decrease and thickness significantly, but recent cold weather has made the conditions favorable.
As of Feb. 4, Jurczynski said there were 12 inches of poor quality ice at Squaw Cove and 10-and-a-quarter to 11 inches of beautiful black ice at Deep End. Eight of the 12 locations measured at Deep End were at 11 inches. He added that the weather may get close to 50 degrees on Monday, and the potential for this made it clear that the harvest needs to happen over the weekend.
Jurczynski said that each year about 14 people participate in the ice harvest. Many involved have done this for years. He said there are plenty of local residents and media outlets that come to view the event, as well as a fourth grade class from Holderness Central School.
Dear RDC Icing Enthusiasts, Conditions are finally right for us to begin our 2013 ice harvest. This annual tradition has taken place at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps for more than a century. If conditions hold and the ice and our equipment cooperate, the operation should take three full days to complete. That means we should be harvesting ice this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (February 7 – 9, 2013).
For those that are interested in checking out this unique tradition, stop by our winter office (called Roswell) before heading down to the lake. At the office, our staff will warn the ice truck drivers that you will be on the roads. They will also give you some direction on where to park your vehicle and the best way to walk to the ice field (or to the ice houses).
This operation normally takes place mid-week making it difficult for working folks and school aged children to observe the harvest. A Saturday ice harvest at RDC is a rare opportunity. If you do visit us, it is a good idea to wear some form of crampons (e.g. Microspikes, Yaks, Stabilizers, etc.) and dress warm. FYI, while various aspects of the operation take place from 7am to 4:30pm, the best times to see all aspects of the operation are from 9am to noon and 12:30pm to 2:30pm.