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Ice/Water Kiting

Unseasonably warm.  The last two days shattered records when we got in to the lower 60s.  The nice snow cover we had across the lake was quickly disappearing… only to be replaced with an inch or two of water in some spots.  With this change of weather we also go some wind.

I’ve had a few days trying to kite on wet wet lakes.  It can be fun.  Rooster tails of water behind the skis.  Wet from head to toes.

On Cross Lake there always seems to be an area of open water between it and Rush Lake.  A week ago I was kiting on Cross Lake,  I skied up near that area and notice it had gotten significantly larger.  The warmish weather was causing area of flow to open wider and wider.  It was weird this with people still driving trucks out on the lakes to fish.

I was thinking with the right wind it might just work for water kiting.  A pretty straight south wind would allow you to ride the gap of open water almost perfectly.

View Larger Map


Sunday rolled around.  Spent the morning relaxing with some friends.  The thought crossed my mind and I called up Todd Hanson to see how the lake looked down by his house or what he thought of that area for kiting.

He was interested.  Game on.  Talk turned to using one of his switchblades ( on a kiteboard for an amphibious board.  I donated a board to the cause and we mounted it on the back of my board.

We headed to the lake with Todd, Vicki and Katie.  Plenty of support if things went awry.  Donned the drysuit, set up the old 16m 2006 cabrinha crossbow because I was worried about not having enough power.  Launched the kite on the frozen lake and got pulled downwind on my butt on the ice.  Tried to get in my bindings, but had to ditch my booties to get my feet to fit.

Kite had plently of power.  I was overpowered trying to use the switchblade with the kiteboard.  Todd said that my boots might have been to far in the middle of the kiteboard (on a snowboard your heels are right on the edge).  It was manageable, but was tiring.  Finally, I made it from the ice to the open water.  Ahhhh sweet riding.  Very powered on the 16m and perfectly flat water.  Did some ice to water transitions and back.  Landed a couple jumps from the water to the ice.  It was awesome to get some water riding in before heading for some epic snowkiting in AK in two weeks!

If the wind lines up and the temperature is warm it would be great to be able to get out riding there again!

Thanks to Todd and Vicki for borrowing me the switchblade and for all the help!

I had Todd’s Gopro on the helmet… so we will have to see if it actually was recording.  That would be fun to see!


Kate took all these picture below!


Lake of the Woods GPS tracks

We had the GPS running the whole time when we were moving.  Here is exactly were we were at!


Lake of the Woods Trip 2012

Written up by Kate Perkins!  Photos by Bryce, Katie, Brody, and Angie.


I think most people thought we were crazy, when they heard what we were doing. We got a lot of funny looks, heading out on the ice, pulling sleds behind us, six people and a dog with a backpack on.

Though I had never gone trekking like this before, I had a good feeling about the trip. That feeling turned out to be absolutely right.

Our plan was to kite ski from Rocky Point, on the south west shore of Lake of the Woods, all the way to Garden Island, 18 miles northeast.

Kiting is a growing sport. It involves harnessing yourself to a giant kite. The kite pulls you around on your skis using the power of the wind.

When we set out the first morning there was no wind, so we started hiking. That’s when the funny looks started. Everyone else going out onto the ice at Rocky Point was in a Bombardier, or snowmobile, or pulling a fish house.

The hiking was pretty slow going. By around four in the afternoon we’d made it six miles. Since we were only going one or two miles an hour, we decided our next course of action was to take a seat and drink a beer. After just enough time for us to spread our gear across the ice, the wind came up.

We threw up our kites and packed our things. Angie, Brody, Bryce, Summit (the dog) and I took off just as the sun was going down.

As we kited along, Summit running at our sides, the sun began to set and the stars came out. In front of us was a wide open expanse of untouched snow and dark horizon.

The sunset was hot pink and the snow was perfect. We made it another five miles in about 40 minutes. Then we started to get chilly, and threw up the tent, fired up our camp stoves and cooked dinner.

Sleeping out there was an interesting experience. We were at least seven miles from land in any direction. There were absolutely no prints or tracks anywhere in the snow, besides our own. We saw no animals, and since there was no wood to be found we couldn’t fire up the woodstove. We stayed warm nonetheless, all of us inside the teepee.

The following morning we made coffee and watched the sun come up over the ice in a chilly haze the color of grapefruit. We ate some oatmeal, packed up our gear and once again tossed our kites in the air. The wind was from the south, so we were headed straight downwind.

Taking a path downwind is not as easy as one might think. Kiting is like sailing. Going downwind involves tacking back and forth, which means that it takes about eight miles of kiting to make it four miles downwind.

Summit had run at least 15 miles over the past two days. He was visibly exhausted, and laid down in the snow whenever we stopped. We decided he shouldn’t run anymore, and strapped him into a sled, where he rode behind a kite for another four miles or so (though he wasn’t too nuts about his position).

A mile outside Garden Island a pressure ridge appeared.  The ridge was a good four feet in height of spiky, pale blue, thick cut sheets of ice. We knew from drilling a hole in the ice for water the day before that the ice was about three feet thick.

We were able to cross the ridge by removing our skis and walking gently across an open area to the other side. A couple of us were brave enough to ski across them.

Slushy areas caught my attention and made me nervous. There were cracks in the ice two inches wide, water frozen between them.

The wind was just dying when we were pulling into Garden Island. We thought we’d have to walk the rest of the way when the wind picked up again and we made it to a corner of the island where there’s an emergency shelter for snowmobilers.

We dropped off our stuff, and Bryce and Brody kited around, using the pressure ridge like a jump, while Angie and I ate a snack and did a little exploring.

The shelter smelled strongly of cigar smoke and was coated in a confetti of mouse droppings. Though it was dry and warm, I could not imagine laying a sleeping bag on the floor.

Snowmobilers stopped by to watch the kiting, and others to talk and have a beer. The propane heater on the shelter was out of gas, but we wiped down a counter and cooked some dinner by the light of candles that were hidden in a cupboard.

After eating we went out to the teepee and fired up the woodstove. Now that we had a large downed oak to cut up, we cranked the heat in the tent to about 80 degrees and soaked in the warmth.

The aspect of warmth was an interesting thing. All day, while kiting or hiking, we stayed warm. We even took our jackets off. But once you stop moving, a chill threatens to enter your body- and once it gets in, it’s hard to get out.

I spent the first night of our trip curled in a ball in my sleeping bag, layered thick in clothing and unable to figure out why I couldn’t get warm after being hot all day long. I laid there for so long I started to wonder what hypothermia felt like, and if this was it. But it wasn’t; I’m sure hypothermia is much worse.

That night, outside the tent, the northern lights made an appearance and Angie got to see them for the first time. We each took turns peeking our heads out from the tent.

The next morning our friend Mike showed up with a snowmobile. We decided to make our way to Oak Island, though there wasn’t any wind.

We solved this problem by making what I would say most resembled a chandelier of skiers behind the snowmobile. There was one large sled behind the snowmobile, which also pulled three skiers, each with a sled behind them.

Angie and I sat on the sled, one of us driving and the other holding summit. We were a sight to see.

Eight walleyes made a tasty meal on Oak Point. Bryce and I had both worked at a summer camp on the island, and we stayed in one of the cabins with permission from the camp director.

The next morning we headed home, but not after eating a hot meal of hamburgers and fries with a cold beer in Warroad. Our trip was a success, and we sat around reveling in how delicious everything tasted, reflecting on the past four days.

On the way home, we browsed pictures on our cameras, and talk slowly moved back to more city-like topics. The snow collecting on the roads for our ride home could only mean more winter, which

means more adventures before the ice goes out.

Brody has some great pictures and a write up here:

Alaska 2011 Video

Still going to upload some more pictures…. but finished a video this weekend!

Alaska 2011 from
bryce johnson on Vimeo.

Day 8 – Kiting Thompson Pass

We kited around Thompson Pass with a bunch of other kiters.   Practiced doing some little glides down the hill.  Long fun day!  I climbed with the kite a bunch of the way up little Odyssey.