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General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Snowmobile winter camping
« on: February 01, 2018, 01:39:56 am »
I went with 4 stroke primarily because I'm sick of rebuilding 2 strokes.  I have a 550 fan Polaris and I've had to completely rebuild it at least a half dozen times, and that's with full cleaning the carbs every season (ultrasonic cleaner) and all proper maintenance.  On the plus side, they are pretty easy to rebuild, especially compared to liquid cooled machines.  Regardless, it's not a job that I really enjoy.

550 fans are definitely lighter.  Regarding floatation, weight is really only half of it, the other half is footprint.  A lightweight, narrow shorter track with narrow skis won't have as much floatation as a wide, long track with ski skins.  In the exact same chassis, the fan will have better floatation though.  Cold starting could arguably be better with a 2 stroke, although again, not necessarily.  More on that later.  Field maintenance should be easier with a 2 stroke fan as well.

My primary consideration was maintenance and fuel economy.  A good number of 600 and 900 aces have 20,000+ km with nothing done to them except oil changes.  The 900 gets insane fuel economy.  My expedition gets way better mileage than my truck.  On a good trail, the display reads 10L/100km.  I haven't GPS'd it with a measured fill up to confirm, but I have no reason to doubt it.  I can get probably 400km to the tank on a good trail.  My 550 gets 1/3 that.  The 900 isn't exactly a powerhouse, it's only around 90hp and the 600 is less than that.  The power band between 4 stroke and 2 is completely different as well.  The 4 stroke just pulls, nice and steady.  Regarding power and spinning out, that's all about throttle control anyway, not about power.  And as an added safety, low gear and eco mode will almost guarantee you won't spin out. 

Cold starting.  As a ranger, we do a lot of exercises up past Churchill.  On more than a few of them, at temps around -40C, the 4 stroke 600s and 900s have all started flawlessly while the 2 strokes have needed to have the plugs pulled and heated, hot water over the carbs, fuel down the cylinder, etc.  After sitting for more than a month, I decided to give my sled a shot at starting at -38C.  That was the limit on a somewhat depleted battery.  Using a li-ion boost pack, it fired up instantly.  Because we are often 1000 km from any type of civilization, most of us have installed block heaters and carry small generators as a backup.  Pull start is not a factory option, but it can be done by wrapping something around the primary.  It sucks, but it's possible, we've had to do it on more than one occasion.  That was on an 1100CC Yamaha VK with a failed starter, not any ski-doos.

I would absolutely choose a 600 or 900 over the 550F, personally.

Tents and Shelters / Re: Canadian Arctic 10 man tent
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:30:22 pm »
I have mine set up in my backyard at the moment.  We use them a lot.  Definitely try to find a liner.  Even disregarding the added insulation and frost barrier, they would be a dark cave without the white liner.  Military sets them up with one person going in and holding the pole, while everyone else runs around tying out lines.  That's fine if you have 5-10 guys to spare, but I'm usually setting mine up by myself.  Stake out the bottom loops of the tent itself, and the pole will stay upright by itself as you stake out the rest of it.  They are ideal for 4 people, with cots, gear and cookset.  We generally run kerosene heaters in them, airtight stoves are also good.

General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Snowmobile winter camping
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:08:29 pm »
Expeditions are sweet sleds, not light at all though.  The SE comes stock with a winch, and I've had to pull it out a few times.  The 900 ace is an amazing motor.

Almost all of my winter camping is via snowmobile.  The simple fact is that where I live, we don't have roads to drive into the backcountry to venture out from.  As a Canadian Ranger, we spend many weeks out on the land every winter.  It wouldn't exactly be considered your traditional winter camping, though.  As others have said, snowmobiles are tools, nothing more.  An idiot can swing a hammer just as well as a craftsman.

General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Melting Snow
« on: January 18, 2013, 04:44:43 pm »
A decent thermos (like Thermos brand) will be just fine.  Got one from Tim Hortons, filled it with hot coffee, left it over night in the truck at -30, the next day it was still hot enough to drink and be good.

Nikon D7000 with a Tokina AT-X 116 Pro at 11mm.  F2.8, ISO 1000, 6 sec exposure.  12 second intervals, approx 840 pictures, played at 15 fps.

Winter Trekking Ice Fishing / Re: Cleaning pike boneless
« on: January 18, 2013, 10:12:14 am »
Smoked jackfish is also VERY tasty.  I'm not sure which method you use to de-bone them, the 3-piece method or whatever is probably the most efficient.  We have so many up here, I'm really not concerned about wasting the very little that I do using a "zipper" method.  Basically, fillet and rib out just like walleye, then run the knife tip about 1/3 to 1/2 through the thickness of the fillet right down the center line.  Then following that cut, angle the knife towards the top of the fillet and you'll feel the blade "tick" off the y bones.  Notch it at the front, and give that notched piece a pull from head to tail, all the y bones pull out like a zipper.  Done right, it's very fast and wastes very little.  I use it for all sizes of eater pike, but probably works best on the larger end.  Leave the skin on, debone as described, brine and smoke with alder, VERY VERY tasty.

Even baked or fried, jackfish are delicious, especially if they come out of cold water.  Way up north here, that's all year round.  Down south, towards the end of the summer, the flesh turns a deeper yellow and that's when the more "fishy" flavour really starts to set in.

Good morning all! Been a little while since I've posted anything interesting here, life sometimes seems to get in the way...  However, happy to be back, and hopefully I'll be around a little more often!

Yesterday, a solar wind stream was helped along by a bit of a solar flare, and the sky lit up in Northern Manitoba Canada. My parents happen to be up visiting, so my mom, my daughter and I bundled up to stand out in the cold to wath the northern lights dance across the sky. It was a pretty good show! I set up my new camera, and over the course of about 3 hours (the lights were still goin strong), took about 840 pictures and made the following timelapse video. It had warmed up to about -29, but there was a bit of a breeze. -40 with the windchill, but worth it! Hope you all enjoy!!

There are also georeferenced ones available as well as the print-ready ones.  I've never used any of these before.  Ibycus topo is essentially based on them and very simple to find and install for garmin GPSs, and it's open source.

Griz, nice looking camp, and no worries.  There were a few people mentioning about AVTers, I just wanted to make the distinction that not all of us go out and tear things up, and that some of us do have a true respect for the environment.

These are the official Canadian topographical maps available Natural Resources Canada.  If you print those out, you should have the same ones you'd get from a place like Canada Map Sales, the paper copies.

I feel a need to say something here.  I'm sure it wasn't intended this way (or at least I hope it wasn't), but you do realize that it's certain idiots on ATVs (and snowmobiles and dirtbikes and whatever else) that are causing damage, not all ATVers.

You really have to be careful when painting with such a broad brush.  An idiot will be an idiot regardless of how they travel.  I've seen hikers, cross country skiers and canoeists who leave trash behind them as well.

Yes, I am an avid ATV and snowmobile rider, and the VAST majority of my friends tread extremely lightly.  Where we travel, you have to treat the trails with a lot of respect as it's the only way in and out, and "grabbing a handful of throttle" is the fastest way to limit our own access.  We travel over a lot of muskeg and floating bog, and if your wheels even START to slip, you stop, get off and push.  Tire spin is the enemy.

And back on topic, we are literally surrounded by crown land as far as you can travel in any direction, hundreds of miles.  To me, it's not camping if there are designated spots.

Trip Reports / Re: Dogsledding to Churchill Manitoba Mar/April 2012
« on: April 13, 2012, 07:26:29 pm »
We got on the train on March 30th and unloaded at about 7:30 AM on the 31st. We did indeed stop at Wat'chee lodge for a cold stand-up lunch in their garage, but the compound had been shuttered for a while before we got there. Our permit to travel was apparently predicated on the bears already having moved out of the area some time before we passed through. The Chesnaye stop was chosen to give us two or three days of travel time to arrive at the NSC, with some buffer built in in case of weather problems (one year they got socked in for three days by a blizzard). We never did actually enter Wapusk; from Wat'chee we hooked north and ran along just on the west side of the park border, making camp on lakes that had banks high enough to offer some wind protection.

The dogs were used to 12-15 mile days before the trip; we ran 16 miles the first day, then two 20-mile days which put us into NSC a day early. It was from NSC that we went out on the ice for about 16 miles to see the Ithaca and get to Prince of Wales Fort, which we reached just as the sun was touching the horizon.

We were in Gillam for only a few hours before and after the train stops. Arriving in Gillam we flagged down a pedestrian to ask directions to the station and he turned out to be the station agent! He opened the depot an hour or so early for us.

We got back on the train in Churchill on Saturday, April 8th and got to Gillam on Easter. In the past this trip has been run out of Thompson rather than Gillam, but this year in order to spare the dogs 18 continuous hours in their boxes we drove from Thompson to Gillam. I'm not convinced it was worth it, as the drives up and back were slower and no less rough than the train ride. Then again, the dogs did get a break for an hour or so in the middle.

Here's a link to a Google Map or our route:

Looks like a good run.  Yeah, the road is something else eh?  It's just starting to get really bad, as the ground is starting to thaw.  Glad you had a good time!  Shoot me a PM if you end up back this way again.  I'd be more than willing to show you around.

Trip Reports / Re: Dogsledding to Churchill Manitoba Mar/April 2012
« on: April 13, 2012, 02:35:04 pm »
What were the dates?  You passed by us here, twice.  I call Gillam MB home.  Chesnaye stop, that takes you right by Wat'Chee Lodge, does it not?  Any particular reason you decided to head to the coast from there, just out of my own curiosity?  You know you are only a couple of weeks behind the Hudson Bay Quest dogsled race, eh?  I was one of the Canadian Rangers working at McClintock at the race. 

You were probably a little too late to see the females and cubs heading to the coast.  A few weeks ago, as part of another Ranger trip by snowmobile, we went from Gillam here up to Churchill via the power line (which meets the tracks near McClintock and follows them the rest of the way). From Churchill we went across land to the study center, then across the park to the new fenced compound at the Broad River.  The next day we went from the Broad to the Owl (another new fenced compound there) and straight out to sea ice.  We rode beside the flow edge most of the way down to Port Nelson, spent a couple of days there and came back to Gillam on the abandoned rail bed that used to run out to Port.  Between Churchill and Port Nelson, we say about a dozen ptarmigan and 1 arctic fox, that was it, not even any tracks.  One of the Rangers from Churchill also works for Parks Canada, and she was heading back down to the Owl to put up some wolverine hair snags, 4x4 posts wrapped in barbed wire to collect hair samples as the wolverines walked past.

I'm sure you weren't burning that wood inside Wapusk National Park, eh, as burning wood there is prohibited ;)  Most likely only when you were either not quite to it from the rail, or just after you were outside to the north.

First time up in the area?  Pretty interesting terrain, and a LOT of history.  Spend any time in Gillam at all?

Looks like a good trip.  I'd love to do it by dogsled, but my wife won't let me have any more than the 3 I have now.

General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Southern Manitoba
« on: March 20, 2012, 10:13:12 pm »
Sorry to hear!  Kinda just kidding, but not really.  I grew up about 15 miles from the US border in Southwestern MB, we are definitely spoiled up here as far as wilderness goes.  Ashern isn't that far away from the wild.  Only about an hour north and you're past Gyp, there's lots of little rivers and creeks to explore out that way.  Other than that, you're heading south and around the big lake to the whiteshell.

Snow. Don't worry they are due for freezing rain tonight!


We've had freezing rain since Friday, pretty much non-stop.  And a week or two of above zero temps.  We had a lot of snow this year, back to almost normal levels.  We still have 3 feet in the bush.  It is starting to go quickly though.

Thanks everyone.

General Winter Camping Discussion / Dogsled race - Hudson Bay Quest
« on: March 19, 2012, 03:20:30 pm »
This past weekend, I was working at a wilderness checkpoint for the Hudson Bay Quest, a 220 mile dogsled race in Northern Manitoba between Gillam and Churchill.  I had some time to kill after most of the teams had checked in, and was able to get some pictures of the dog park and some of the mushers taking off.

I was one of 5 Canadian Rangers manning the checkpoint at McClintock, the mandatory 6 hour rest stop.  We were tasked with recording time in and ensuring the 6 hours passed before time out, checking mandatory gear like stove and fuel, sleeping bag, etc, providing communications for the race headquarters, and monitoring the condition of the dogs.  We also were there for support, and had to go and pick up a few teams after they ran into trouble and activated the "help" alarm on the SPOT devices.  McClintock is an old abandoned siding on the rail line between Gillam and Churchill, so the teams that scratched, as well as the dropped dogs, were loaded onto freight cars and highrail trucks.

If you are interested in seeing more, I have a little over 100 photos on my photobucket account:

For more information on the race:

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