Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arrowhead 135: Melting

Wednesday I took off on a little bike ride - just a couple of hours long - on the Corridor that passes near our house.  I just wanted to get out and put in some time on the bike - and I wanted to test out melting snow.  See in all three of my previous Arrowhead experiences (two finishes in '09 and '11 and one more attempt in '13 that saw me drop at Melgeorge's) I've had water issues.  In theory all of them could have been avoided by simply melting snow but in '09 (-25) and '11 (-35) trying to handle a stove would have been problematic.  In '13 the trails were all but unridable because of a snowstorm and I ran out of water just because it was taking much longer to get from Gateway to Melgeorge's.  It was warm that year and I certainly could have stopped to melt snow.  But for reasons that mainly have to do with dumbassedness, I didn't.

So this year, I am going to do it right or suffer the consequences of thirst (not to mention shame and humiliation).  To that end, I'm going to practice melting snow.  It's very complicated.

Somebody thought it'd be a good idea to drive their truck down the snowmobile trail.  It didn't last all that long but it about gave me fits.  I can't imagine that snowmobilers like it much, either.  
A single snowmobile had passed when the snow was soft last weekend - and they had since frozen.  The firmest part of the trail was the center tread.

After a bit of trouble getting the stove lit (I think the alcohol may have gotten some condensation in it) it worked pretty well to melt some snow.

The stove (which is also the pot support) melted into the snow a bit.

I got enough snow to melt to about fill the pot.

The stove was a little alcohol contraption that I made with a pop can.  And it weighs .3 oz and fits inside the pot so it doesn't take up any more space.

The stove fits in the pot (as does the small fuel bottle I was using) so things pack up pretty small and easily fits in my frame bag. 

Thanksgiving day I went for a quick, easy spin to stretch the legs and get some fresh air.  I only rode like 30 minutes.


  1. Joel,

    You may want to consider a different stove. These don't pressurize and operate well at -35 degrees F in my experience. In 2009 I had a similar model, and it worked no better than a candle to melt snow. Fortunately, I was with somebody that had a Whisperlite (and even he had troubles and had to heat the bottle under his jacket for a while so the rubber in the plunger was soft enough to pressurize the canister). Esbit tablets might work better if you're looking to avoid an expensive stove. Also, I'm looking for a roommate at least on the I-falls side of things this year. Shoot me a Facebook message or email if you still don't have something figured out. Cheers!

  2. Good to know. I have a whiperlite too but it weighs over a pound. .3 oz is awful tempting but if the alcohol stove doesn't work then maybe I'll just use the whisperlite - the weight savings wouldn't be worth not being able to melt snow. I kinda doubt I'll be able to test it at -35 but who knows? Last winter was pretty chilly.