I will be calling one of the local lodges soon but I am curious if anyone has been on Moose Lake (or a surrounding lake) recently? I am assuming the ice conditions will be superb because of this months cold. Last year we hit a TON of slush going in.
Heading up for camping, shoeing and fishing on December 31 (08 -09) - entry via West Bearskin. I talked to both the people at Bearskin Lodge and HungryJack Lodge and got similar reports - 12" to 17" of ice typical with 4" to 12" slush.
That's a good question. I would stay away from any rivers (fast moving currents create unsafe ice conditions) like the Kawishiwi River.
I just got back yesterday from a 4 day trip. We entered Snowbank, went through Parent Lake into Disappointment Lake.. We did not make it far into Disappointment lake because there was so much slush (even with temps around -20 degree's....the snow cover over the lake would not let the slush layer freeze, that sucked).
The nice thing entering Snowbank Lake is there is a very well marked snowmobile trail from the entry point to the first portage going into Parent lake. So you are pretty much guaranteed to make it at least to parent Lake b4 anything really poses a problem (in terms of ice conditions).
We were originally going to go from Moose Lake up towards Quetico, but heard ice conditions were bad (meaning lots of slush on most lakes...hence we chose Snowbank).
If you go in only one or two lakes, you will most likely not see anybody, as winter traffic is slow. I have had good luck doing the numbered lakes (i.e. Lake One Lake 2 Lake Three). But would highly recommend entering Snowbank Lake.
I did Sawbill las year but did not make it very far, again because of slush conditions:(
I ran into similar conditions to George entering West Bearskin on Thursday 1/1/09. Approx 12" to 18" of snow over LOTS of overflow / slush. We found the same conditions on Duncan were forced to cut our route short and settled for a base-camp on the north shore of Duncan Lake. We abandoned lake travel and snowshoed the Border Route Trail via its intersection of the Stairway portage. Just before the portage and above rose falls we found a ski pole sticking out of a hole in the water - later found out that a party of day-trip skiers had a younger girl go through the Ice there, but got her out safely. These folks were very lucky, as the current is very strong in this area. We did drill some holes on Duncan and typically found 12" to 17" inches of Ice below the snow and overflow. Saturday night 1/3/09 saw 8" of snow - warming temperatures and no improvement in ice conditions during our departure on 1/4/08. I suspect that Ice conditions will improve little in the near future due to the heavy insulating blanket of snow on the lakes.
We just did two nights of camping.We were originally going to do the Hegman lakes but realized travel on the lakes would be slow.We did the Angleworm trail instead and this proved to be a good decision. I would definitely recommend travel over land as much as possible right now.However we had much better luck on the lake with our snowshoes on. We didn't sink into the slush much at all except when on a well worn path like if you were the third or fourth guy in line to walk over the broken path,then you are better off breaking your own trail.Also,we didn't have skis but I would think they would work ok. I would definitely keep boot travel on the lakes to a minimum right now.
Put down that Johnsonville and grab the Frabill will ya?
The road to snowbanks entry point is usually plowed fairly quickly. I have never taken the hiking trail you mentioned during the winter. Instead I go directly across snowbank lake to the portage entering parent lake. This is a snowmobile trail across the lake marked by small pine branches sticking out of the ice. Stay on the trail and it will bring you very close to the portage that leads to parent lake.
This portage will most likely already be "broken in" because the outfitter that lives right next to the portage snow shoes the portage. That being said you may or may not find a broken in trail on parent lake.
Make sure you contact an outfitter right b4 entering to get a slush report. If there is a lot of slush, you may want to "hug" the shore. Good luck!
There is a dog sledding outfit right by the entry point, so you are probably correct. The cabins across the lake use it for sure (I have seen them use it and there are always snowmobile tracks). You are correct when stating that disappointment Lake has a trail as well, though I did not reach it this year:(
Noticed the pine studded trail on last years trip. We did the Snowbank, Boot, Abinodji, Swing, Gibson, Cattyman, Adventure, Jitterbug, Ahsub, Disappointment, Snowbank loop. As I mentioned in a previous thread, I'm recommending the numbered chain for this years trip.
Lake conditions are as horrible as possible.
Deep snow, deep slush off any trail, stay out of the bays as they may have very thin ice and the most slush you will find.
Snow and slush can be knee deep, or worse.
This is no exaggeration, be extremely careful.
Better yet, stay off all ice for another 2-3 weeks.
Another warning to anyone thinking of crossing any lakes in the Ely area for winter camping:
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE KNEE HIGH WATERPROOF BOOTS AND SNOWSHOES IF YOU INSIST ON GOING, WHICH IS FOOLISH AT THIS TIME.
CANCEL, OR DELAY YOUR TRIP FOR AT LEAST 3 WEEKS.
I DO NOT SEE THE CONDITIONS GETTING ANY BETTER UNLESS WE GET A 4-5 DAY WARMING SPELL OF AT LEAST 35 DEGREES, AND SUNNY.
Sorry about the yelling, just wanted to make sure anyone reading this gets the message:)
Absolutely horrible, the smaller lakes being the worst.
Safest parts of any lake are the wind swept parts in the middle.
Worst parts are shorelines and bays.
There are some spots with very thin ice.
You can have snow and slush as much as 2-3 feet deep, combined.
Trails through the woods will be safe, but some deep snow.
I was out and about on a couple lake outside of Ely this past weekend. I was amazed at the amount of snow up there. According to WELY, this year has so far produced more snow than any of the past 13 years. Its dry and fluffy on top.
Snow much snow means that slush wasn't really a big deal when snowshoeing or skiing, but was tough in areas with a snowmobile. There are parts of lakes that have little or no slush, but we did get stuck while pulling a loaded 3-man portable through an area that had a lot of slush. That water is cold when it comes in over your boots! Lots of ice underneath all that snow and water.
Ice was okay on snowbank last weekend, pockets of knee deep slush. Based on where we were fishing I would say ice thickness ranged from 6-12 inches of good ice, with some slushy-crappy ice on top. Bring gaiters, and extra socks, going through that slush isn't pleasant.
"We need to witness our own limits transgressed" -THOREAU
There are still deep pockets of slush on various lakes, but getting better.
I don't know if you will be on snow shoes or skis, but knee high rubber boots would be a good idea.
Woody Max by the Muck Boot Company are the best boots I have ever owned, knee high, totally waterproof, insulated, very warm and light, slightly spendy-about $135, give or take.
I'd recommend them highly if you are in the market.
Our plan is to head up the Blandin Trail and follow the winter path to Ramshead Lake. We'd have to cross or go around Lamb Lake too. Most of the trip seems to be over ground. We'll have skis and snow shoes. Bringing back-up boots is the best I can do at this point. Thanks for the info.
I just got back from a dogsled loop up Moose to Ensign, Knife, Bonnie, Spoon, Kekekabic, Fraser, Thomas, Disappointment, Parent, and Snowbank. There was a snowmachine trail that extended from Moose up to Isle of the Pines, but from there to the end of Thomas we were breaking trail the whole way. The trail up Knife had clearly been slushy when it was made, but was solid when we went over it. We saw no people and no tracks from the middle of Knife until Snowbank. The only slush we encountered was on the last day, on the winter trail from Thomas to Disappointment: there was a lot of it along the streambeds there and we had to stop several times to break out the scrapers. Snow was up to waist-high along the portages; typically knee-deep in the marshy areas and less deep on the lakes. Snowbank, Parent, and Disappointment had no slush that I noticed.
There is now a well-packed trail running along our route; after we broke the trail through to Thomas, three Forest Service guys on snowmobiles caught up with us and said that they had followed our path from Knife. They turned back at the start of the winter trail on Thomas. The winter trail to Thomas had been used by someone on snowshoes pulling a sled.
Snowbank slush conditions haven't changed much when you leave any trail, still many bad spots.
I really am beginning to think it won't change until we get a good thaw or some rain to knock down the snow.
Yeah, same thing on Farm. This will definitly help the slush issues. I'll be heading out tomorrow, but have not decided if I want to target lakers or brookies. Had some fresh brookies yesterday for lunch and they were out of this world. Decisions....decisions...decisions.
For those interested (not to advertise) I am an outfitter and guide.
TGO or Moose...my winter trip was pushed back to Mar 5-8. We are going in the numbered chain. Fishing is not a priority but it's always fun to set up a tip-up or two. Because the walleye/northern season will be over, are there any laker lakes near lake 3?