Frozen Fun on the C&O Canal

It was a Saturday for shinny under a bright but beautifully cold sun — a week’s worth of freezing temps delivered postcard conditions for free-form hockey on the C&O Canal today, and I had the pleasure of sharing the experience with Off Wing Opinion’s Eric McErlain — his first-ever outdoor skate. If you take a quick peek at a video we generated from the skate, you’ll see that Eric certainly doesn’t want it to be his last such skate.

Many young shinny stars wore new Caps’ sweaters; many parents modeled an allegiance for Capitals’ hockey of yesteryear.

We arrived at the Canal a little after 10 this morning, and by noon dozens of cars were illegally parked along Canal Road, hard by Lock 7. A full half mile stretch of the canal was littered with individual games of shinny played by the very young — many of them outfitted in red Ovi sweaters — and the more experienced. It was a gorgeous sight, seeing so much hockey played in Washington on such a spectacular Saturday.

“Get your skates out and get young again and start playing some pond hockey,” Eric said in his video file. I couldn’t agree more.

The best part of recreating in this fashion? The camaraderie . . . the crisp air filling your lungs . . . being old but vaulting back in time by a game undiluted by rules, game clocks, or structure. Early Saturday evening I discovered a byproduct from three-plus hours of canal skating I certainly didn’t expect: a post-skate liveliness in my legs, a real bounce and spring in my steps that I believed couldn’t be matched from any treadmill work or jogging. I marveled at it. I was physically tired, but my legs were alive. I suspect my shinny mates felt the same — we pledged to meet back out at the Canal again on Sunday.

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13 Responses to Frozen Fun on the C&O Canal

  1. christopher says:


  2. Maureen Kentoff says:

    I am beaming looking at these photos… Then I go to the video, and I actually got teary-eyed! This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever seen, ever.

  3. Eric says:

    Man, I had to go out of town for a blizzard delayed, family holiday gathering on the Eastern shore. I figured the regional shinny spots would be busy this weekend. Have fun boys & girls!

  4. got stanley? says:

    I didn’t know there were shinny spots in this area. I’ll have to see about making some time in the near future (today’s already promised, sadly).

    Where else is there to go?

  5. Dave says:

    Where is this on the canal? How thick is the ice? I’ve missed pond hockey since leaving Michigan and you guys might have just made DC even better.

  6. Addison says:

    Im sad I missed out on this. It looks at lot more fun than public skate at Kettler yesterday

  7. Letz Go Caps says:

    Very cool, looks like a ton of fun. Too bad it will warm a bit this week 😦

  8. baloo2200 says:

    Im am very jealous…if I wasnt in Dallas, playing before the stars game Friday, I would have been all over this…Glad you had fun.

  9. As soon as I saw this post, I raced down there from Germantown. Thanks so much for posting about this! It was one of the best times I’ve ever had. I wrote a little bit about it on my own blog if you’d like to see a first timers perspective!

  10. Heather J. says:

    Can’t believe we missed out on this! Any chance there will be another day like this soon?!?!

  11. pepper says:

    Beautiful. Wish I could be there.

  12. Susan Wegner says:

    What an amazing blog … love the video, the pics, and the wonderfully written account. My teenage boys (and middle aged husband) were there both days and the memories will truly last a lifetime … let’s hope for more cold temps and see you next weekend! By the by, I love pic #4 … I know the kid in the Caps jersey … πŸ˜‰

  13. Susan,

    Thank you for your kind words. Throwing together a file like this and learning that a few of my fellow canal skaters find it and celebrate along with me is a novel reward, to say the least. And if temps hold low this week, you bet, I’ll see you and your family back out there.

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