With winter lasting longer than usual this year, ice conditions will be unpredictable especially as the spring thaw begins. As soon as we have a few warm days, the potential for currents and sun to erode the ice are much greater. As the snowmobile season may last a little longer, we must remember ice safety when going out on it this year.
Ice Conditions Near Shore
Ice near the shore can be very unpredictable. Ice sometimes pulls away from the banks and refreezes in spring making thin ice near shore. The opposite can also happen where ice is pushed up onto the bank creating pressure cracks or jagged ice near shore. When approaching a lake, it is always wise to check the conditions with a drill to ensure your safety.
Bubblers and Current
When moving water is mixed with ice there is a much greater need for caution as the ice can be much thinner. Current can be anything from a small stream to a flowing river but with cold days these currents are almost impossible to spot. Looking on a map of the area can sometimes show where water flows and creeks are located. Also, around boathouses to protect their support cribs they often have bubblers creating thin ice. Most are marked with a red or amber flashing or solid light.
Having a rescue kit on your snowmobile is never a bad idea as the Muskoka trails can sometimes be very long and remote. If you break down or get stuck cell service can often be slim to none and towns are few and far between.
Whether you are snowmobiling to your cottage or just out for a joy ride, Muskoka is filled with lakes and rivers making spring riding challenging. Make sure to check with the trail guides as they are checking the ice and trails every day. If you are going out on the ice ensure there is enough to support the load you plan on taking.