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Scenic State Park

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:17 pm
by kealia
Scenic State Park, one of the nicest, remotest and oldest of the 68 Minnesota State Parks, was the site of the annual Adventure Club Campout!

The park is 3,360 acres and consists of several lakes (frozen) and a glacial esker system. It is a beautiful place in a very remote section of the state.

The adventure club holds an annual winter camping trip every year. We have attended for several years. The campers are usually the same every year. Not everyone is "into" winter camping in Minnesota. ..... Something about the temperatures. Sure enough the high temp for the two day event was 6. The low this morning was -23. The wind was off the lake at 15-20 mph, so I don't even want to think what the windchill might have been....

We mistakenly built a 9 foot igloo. We intended to build an 8 footer, but somehow in the rush to put our choppers back on before our fingers froze, we must have put the button in the wrong hole. We built right on the lake. The snow was a little dry and powdery. Although we had to cover the last two foot square hole on the top with a plastic sled (we ran out of time, sunlight and energy), the igloo was 40 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. Of course the windchill was not a factor inside.

The other campers used tents and the froze their kiesters' off. Several of them sat in the igloo with us until 11 pm and only reluctantly left for their tents.

For some reason the temperatures always drop when I go igloo camping. The -23 last night was not the coldest night we have spent in the igloo this year.

I was wondering if I might have been better off building a 7 foot igloo. Only two of us were camping. We leave our gear outside. The build time would have been a lot quicker and I think we might have been even warmer. Any thoughts?

As a side note, when I got up and went outside in the morning I looked over my should at the igloo and for a moment thought it must have been on fire! Yes, a thin column of smoke (actually steam) was rising from the vent!

I have really enjoyed this igloo so far. I bought it in November and have built half a dozen igloos this year. It is a great tool to enjoy the long cold Minnesota winter. We still have a foot and a half of snow on the ground and another month to enjoy it. My igloo skills are improving with every igloo built. I don't have it down perfectly, nor have I figured out which igloo works best for me in each situation, but I am having fun finding out!

Mark in Minnesota

Re: Scenic State Park

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:07 pm
by Igloo Ed
kealia wrote:For some reason the temperatures always drop when I go igloo camping. The -23 last night was not the coldest night we have spent in the igloo this year.
Great report Mark,
Sounds like you've taken the igloos to heart and you are enjoying the learning. Like you said, even the igloo living takes some learning. Even after all the years I spent in snowcaves, it still took me a few years to settle in on what I thought was IT, but I still occasionally figure out a new little trick or such. It took a while to figure out that pinning my tarp against the wall with some insulating clothing held the tarp off my bag so my body moisture could migrate off my bag. Then, I realized that it also insulated me from the cold wall and I could sleep closer to the wall. Now, I put my gortex shell by my feet along with stuff I won't need until I leave. My fluffy insulating layers go by my shoulder and my boots go in the space along my hips and between the two piles. All my food stuff goes above my head.
You mentioned putting the spring clip into the wrong hole and mistakenly building a nine foot igloo. It's the combination of poles used that determines the size in that case.
In choosing the size of igloo that's right, the temperatures don't vary that much with size. I've slept solo in 9 footers and was plenty warm but the little seven footer does feel a little warmer on the face with it being shorter.
As far as space, the seven footer is pretty small but if the door comes through the wall... there is quite a bit more floor space compared to a door below the wall that requires a hole in the floor.
Then there's a trick with the seven footer pole setup that can make a 7'11" igloo that is significantly shorter than the eight footer. I did that on my Otis Peak summit igloo by extending the upper pole to it's longest setting instead of the #2 hole. I also did that on my first Yellowstone trip because the day was getting short and my partner was running out of steam. We were actually able to have a narrow trench in the igloo. The trench was made possible by packing snow on the outside of the igloo so we could notch the walls for a little more head room when sleeping. The walls on the 7'11" igloo lean in steeper than the eight footer walls reducing floor space and that's why we needed to notch the walls for our heads.
Was the snow deep enough that your door can come up under the igloo wall?
You do get some of the best weather...

Re: Scenic State Park

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:39 am
by kealia
Ed:

Thanks for the tips.... I am constantly refining my winter camping technique. My goal is to be able to build a nice warm igloo in a couple of hours, crawl in an spend the night comfortably. The relationship between the size I need and the amount of time I want to spend building it still needs some refinement, but I am really enjoying the research!

As for your question.... The snow was very deep in some spots (chest deep), and less than an inch (on the lake) in other spots... We have had a lot of snow and even more wind. I really had my choice. I have to admit, the 9 footer went very easy until the last row. Neither Dave, my 15 year old son and top-notch camping partner, nor I were quite tall enough to pack the last row. We did bring a small aluminun step ladder, and I think with a little more time we would have completed it. The combination of -20, wind and darkness was too much. We threw a small round plastic sled over the hole and covered it with snow. It worked, but but I think we lost a lot of heat out the top.

Next I think I will try setting up a seven footer. Depending on the type of snow, I know I can build one of these very quickly and complete the top without any problem. My main goal is to have someplace warm to sleep. The combination of a smaller area, and a Candaleir lantern might do the job. We don't spend much time "inside" when we camp, as we do a lot of snowshoing, cooking, sliding and such.

Do you find the igloo to be colder on the first night? Daylight hours in the winter here are short, so I usually finish the igloo in the late afternoon or near dark. The air is cold and not much heat is retained. The next night the igloo seems much warmer. It is retaining heat from the sunshine in the day?

March is our snowiest month. The forecast for this week mentions either rain or snow for next weekend. Hopefully snow. I would like to keep building for another month or so! Besides the beauty of winter camping...... you also have a choice of all the greatest spots. No need for a reservation. Even the best spots on the far side of the lakes are a lot closer when you can walk right across the flat frozen lake!

Igloo on!

Mark in Minnesota

Re: Scenic State Park

Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:19 am
by Ken
Mark,

I enjoy your posts, thanks for sharing!
I hope to have info to offer in the future, but so far I'm either relearning what other have learned(ie: making the same goofs) or even better ... embracing the lessons from others ... I'm still climbing the learning ladder, I've made it up a rung and a half ... ;-)

hoping to try #3 this afternoon.

Ken in Michigan