Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cold no cure for slush

Snowmobile trail leading to Oseetah Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

The temperature fell to 24 below early Thursday. Most people would not see that as good news, but backcountry skiers should.

Despite the two feet of snow we received last week, we still lack midwinter conditions. On ski trips since the snowstorm, I have encountered a number of open brooks and seeping drainages. Also, slush in places. You’d think 24 below would solve that problem.

To test my theory, I skied to Oseetah Lake on my lunch hour today. Starting at the Route 86 railroad crossing in Saranac Lake, I followed a snowmobile trail for a half-mile through a beautiful snowy forest. Stepping onto the frozen lake, I made a few strides, looked behind, and notice the telltale gray tracks—the dreaded sign of slush. I immediately got back on land, but the snow had built up a few inches thick on my ski bottoms. I scraped it off on a balsam tree and continued on my way.

The takeaway: despite the deep freeze, you may still encounter slush on frozen lakes and ponds.

Click here to see my report on backcountry ski conditions. You’ll also find a photo of a skier’s precarious attempt to cross an unfrozen brook.

Phil Brown

Phil Brown has been editing the Adirondack Explorer since 1999. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important. You can follow his adventures and his musings on the Adirondacks in the Explorer and on this blog.

One Response

  1. Phil,

    From what I’ve heard, deep snow like what we’ve been getting is actually what causes slushiness on lake ice. The weight of the snow pushes down on the ice, and water is squeezed up through the cracks. Temperature is not a factor. I encounter this almost every time I visit the Stillwater region, which is one of the snowiest parts of the Adirondacks.

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