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   Winter Camping and Activities
      SLUSH--rules of thumb?     



senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/06/2014 11:18AM
I've read this:

Does anyone else have any "guides" or resources for assessing a lake/snow-pack/etc for slush before a trekker crosses the lake? Any rules-of-thumb? Is it best to stay on the side of the lake that gets the least afternoon sun? stay closer to shore? go in the middle of the lake?

Any ideas would be much appreciated.

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01/08/2014 12:57PM
Rules of thumb for slush:

Based on my experience, slush is very difficult to predict. There may be some formula, but I have yet to figure it out. The only advantage to being close to shore is it makes it easier to get to solid land, thus minimizing the amount of time you have to stand in slush.

About five years ago we were crossing sawbill lake. We hit slush along the shore so we headed to the middle. We went quite a ways and all of a sudden broke through into about 6 inches of water. To make it worse, all the ice we had just crossed was weakened now and broke on our way out.

I still remember jumping on top of our sleds assessing the situation. We were exhausted , it was late and sun was about to set. We ended up unloading out sleds and carrying everything to shore to set up a campsite.

Best advice I can give:
1.) Try to pick a route that has a dog sledding trail (or someone else's trail). If you find one, they make pulling much easier. It is like a snow highway.
2.) Always have an extra pair of dry socks and change of footwear easily within reach (top of your bag).
3.) Sometimes you can pull thru a little slush and find good ice, sometimes it is everywhere. Just make sure you are flexible enough with your route, so you don't end up getting stuck 1 hour before sunset and you still don';t have a site picked out.
4. Keep your route short. I was on snowbank this weekend and did not see a single person. Even at busy times of winter you only need to go in one or two lakes to achieve near total solitude.

IMPORTANT: if you are lucky enough to find a snow highway (and can go7-8 miles in a day, doesn't mean you should). I have had this happen only to get a blizzard the night before going home and losing the ice highway. Now you are pulling thru with a couple feet of snow. Try pulling your sled thru that sometime. You can't. You need to first walk back and forth in your snow shoes to make a trail. Your 7 mile route now turned into a 21 mile+ route and from an ice highway (almost no friction on your sled) to total friction and pulling a rock.

Gotta get back to work, but hopefully one or two of these things will help.
distinguished member(2515)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/08/2014 04:11PM
It usually works like this...

It usually starts with good ice... then when it snows a lot, the weight of the snow forces the ice down. Water squirts up through cracks in the ice and turns the snow cover to slush. At this point you can usually travel the shoreline because since the ice is attached to shore, it doesn't go down. Eventually the ice floats back up in the center, and this causes remaining water to move to the outsides. Now you have slush on the rim of the lake, and not so much in the center. On narrow lakes, it can be much worse because ice that is attached to shore is trying to hold it all up.
There are way to many variables to determine for sure what to expect. The only ground rule that I use is to plan trips in February and on, because things stabilize by then i.e. thicker, less affected ice, less snow fall, more traffic which packs snow and leaves a more solid trail and so on.
Slush sucks and sometimes there is just no way around it but to wait it out. Eventually it will firm up again.
I've taken many trips on snowmobile on Crane Lake, Sand point, Little Vermilion, Lac La Croix etc. and I always call ahead for slush conditions. I've had my snowmobile so buried in it that I had to let it freeze in overnight and come and chop it out the next day to get it home. That was before having a sled with enough power and speed to stay on top of it.
distinguished member(2188)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/08/2014 05:25PM
History also plays a part. Some areas have slush no matter what every year...unless there is no need snow to have
senior member (92)senior membersenior member
01/09/2014 08:57AM
Thanks all!
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