KAMLOOPS — Larry Otto loves getting out on the ice and he has been doing so on Inks Lake for the last two weeks. He brings out his stick and puck to get a little exercise.
"It's great. It takes me back to when I was a kid where all hockey that I did, skating as a kid was on outdoor rinks," says Otto, a retired family doctor who's lived in Kamloops for 16 years. "My dad had a rink in our backyard, flooded with a garden hose."
But Otto is aware of the dangers of being on the ice. He's fallen through in the past and learned from the experience.
"Even now, I'm skating pretty close to the edge because I'm by myself out here," he notes. "If I go through the ice, which I've done before in Banff, it's not nice."
Kamloops Search and Rescue says test the ice before you go on. First at the shoreline, then metre by metre as you go, either with an auger or another piece of equipment.
"You'll find in some areas there are people who do drill holes and test for ice fishing," says Jenn Stahn from Kamloops Search and Rescue. "If it's good for ice fishing, it's good to walk on. So if you see people testing it out there, that's one of the easier ways to know. But really, if you're not sure, don't even risk it."
For his part, Otto checks the ice by pounding his stick.
"I take the butt end of my hockey stick and I kind of [hit the ice], and if it will withstand that it will probably withstand me," says Otto. "Then I'll try and walk on it a little bit. If it starts to crack in any way, I'll back off."
The lakes closer to Kamloops are still only partly frozen and not safe to walk on at this point with such a mild winter. Neither are the Thompson Rivers, which KSAR says are off limits any time, even if it looks solid.
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