Man reminisces on trek across a frozen Lake Erie into Colchester, Ont. 43 years ago

Forty-three years ago, Dave Voelker spent two days walking 48 kilometres across a frozen Lake Erie. 

On Feb. 25, 1978, Voelker left Cleveland, Ohio by himself and was set on reaching Colchester, Ont. in the next 48 hours. On his back he carried all that he would need, including a tent, walkie talkie, and a tripod with a camera. 

“I knew it was frozen across I had to give it a shot, I’m a bit of an adventure junkie,” Voelker told CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. 

He said the temperature that year had been below freezing for at least a month and to be certain the water was frozen through, he checked in with the coast guard. 

A frozen Lake Erie as photographed by Voelker. (Submitted by David Voelker)

When he first started crossing he said he saw some ice fishers, but there eventually came a point of “absolutely nothing at all.” 

LISTEN: Dave Voelker talks about what the journey across was like with host Chris dela Torre

Afternoon Drive8:57Remembering a 48 kilometre walk across frozen Lake Erie

43 years ago Dave Voelker spent two days crossing a frozen Lake Erie. He shares the tale with CBC Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. 8:57

“I was in my element,” he said.

“I’m a bit of a loner to begin with and being in the middle of a frozen Great Lake is the ultimate alone time, you’re just left alone on your thoughts and I just reflected on what I was doing.” 

He said he wasn’t really scared, but the adventure didn’t come without its challenges. At one point he could tell an ice breaker had gone through the lake and it caused the ice to bunch up in odd places. He also had to check a compass to make sure he was headed in the right direction. 

Eventually he made it to the other side and said a family witnessed his arrival. They then invited him in for dinner. 

Voelker pitched up a tent one day into his hike across the lake. (Submitted by David Voelker)

Upon arriving in Colchester, he said he was relieved because he was so tired. 

Afterwards he says he ended up hitchhiking back home and passed through Windsor to do so. 

Some people still don’t believe that Voelker crossed the lake, but he says he hopes the photos are enough. 

“Even if people don’t believe it I know that I did it,” he said. 

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