This article talks about

Riding the open flats in winter
Nature's natural navigation
And forever again!

It was about 12:30pm Easter Monday up at Willow Beach, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Not much wind, but building to about 15-20km/hr north easterly. It's foggy, so the visibility on the distant shoreline is gone. Nothing to be seen in the distance as the grey ice and patchy surface disappears into the fog. A few runs with my kite and skis offshore to check out the conditions left behind from a season of wind blown refrozen ice. The occasional piece of soft melting ice jutting from the surface was left between the occasional patch of slush/snow. Farther in the distance less and less snow patches yielding to a sold grey ice, now with an ever so thin patch of surface water from the recent warm temperatures.

Looks pretty good for some long runs. Before I left, I marked my starting position with my GPS just in case. Armed with my cell and GPS, I point my skis and kite into the mist. The line I choose is determined by Mother Nature as I really don't know where I'm going other than away and out. Back on shore I could still hear the clanking of machinery as the town continued work on the water treatment activity along the shore line. Farther and farther I sailed until the riders back on shore had disappeared from view. Time to head back I tell myself. Okay so I turn around and follow my tracks back. As the distance was not too far and with the impressions I had left on my way out, I could navigate back using my tracks. What I realized was that it was a lot easier to navigate when I sailed over those snow patches. All I had to look for was two ski tracks on the patch. Back to base after quite some time of following my tracks. I tell Steve, I'm going to be gone for a while. I want to take some long runs. So I grab my remaining ice screws and bag and head off again. This time I feel a bit more confident about using my natural method of navigation; marking the snow patches like I've left a trail of bread crumbs to guide me through the foggy distance.

This time, I pick a different wind line; one with a bit better angle so that my reach and return as far as power are more balanced. I'm now just focused on the distant surface, noting the changes as I sail. Some debris has been left from the ice huts during the season. But the noticeable thing are all the snowmobile trails that had been used frequently by sledders throughout the season to cross the lake; still constantly reminded of humanity once before. Even as far out as the middle of the lake, still more trails. I stop for a moment. It's probably the middle of the lake now. It's silent. That "silence is deafening" feeling. Nothing moving as far as the eye can see in every direction. I feel very small. Now I realize that the warming surface has made my feet quite wet. Gotta keep going as they were calling for decreasing winds.

The other shoreline is now in sight. Much of the fog has dissipated. I feel a sense of achievement as I look back and notice my starting point is much farther away than the shoreline in front of me. I keep going and notice my speed ever so slowly decreasing. It's now about 20-30 minutes since I started. I realize that I've just experienced something magical. The oneness with Mother Nature. I've been embraced by the elements yet again. I feel lucky that I've been touched.

As my toes were getting a bit cold and with the decreasing winds, I decided to turn around. I felt somewhat like I hadn't reached my goal of the other shore-line, but often it's the path that's the experience not the goal itself. I'll be back sometime to try again, if not this year, next, or some other.

On the way out, it was all about watching and enjoying the ride. Let Mother Nature guide me where she wants. Now the return was all up to me; find those pair of ski tracks that I had left behind on the snow patches. Looking at the now distant shore, I remember passing two islands and use them as my navigational aids as well. A little bit of sining the kite to generate a bit more pull, I keep on my ski tracks. The winds are still decreasing so I sine more to keep up a decent speed, which was never much in the first place; just a real comfortable ride. After quite some time of watching my returning shore-line I realize I've lost my returning ski tracks. I recognize some of the remote obstacles on the surface so I keep my heading. I arrive near shore but I can't quite see my starting point. A little farther to the left and I see it. A few tacks up wind, now very difficult as there's almost no wind left. A bit of ski skating and I'm back. What a run! An everlasting experience with a longing to return again for more.

There are many reasons to take up power kiting. This type of experience is one of the many reasons that I and others are drawn back to the lake. As I've said so many times before, you never know when Mother Nature will touch you, so you keep coming back hoping for one more everlasting memory.

Ride safe and Experience The Elements!