December 15, 2007

Kite Yukon

I know many people who disdain winter, and I've noticed that these people tend to live in parts of Canada where there is little, if any, snow, or where getting out of the city to enjoy the snow consumes the better part of the day. I feel very sorry for those people.

We've been having a dearth of snow in Whitehorse, which has made the winter a little less enjoyable but, over the last two days, that unfortunate situation has rectified itself.

It got even better last night, when I read in the paper that there were going to be free snow kiting demos and lessons at Schwatka Lake today. Fawn and I registered as soon as we saw the ad. We both wanted to give it a try.

This morning, Fawn, Jade and I bundled up and went down to the lake. It was a beautiful day for those who dressed properly. There was fresh snow on the ground and the wind was steady - not too weak and not too strong - perfect for learning how to kite ski.

The event was hosted by Up North Adventures and a new business, Kite Yukon. Jim Welsh of Kite Yukon gave us instruction on how to use the 3m learning kites. I have to say, he did a great job. Everything was clear and understandable and within minutes we were zipping the learner kites back and forth across the sky. I was amazed at how much power could come from the little kite. When I zipped it low across the horizon, I had to dig my feet in or get dragged across the snow and ice. Sometimes I got dragged anyway.

Unfortunately, Fawn had to leave early so Jade could have her lunch and a nap, which meant that she didn't get to try the bigger kites. The bigger kites have a lot of power and require the use of a harness. I had a little more difficulty using the larger kites, but it was still a lot of fun. And I mean a lot of fun. This time, no matter how hard I tried to dig my feet in, the kite would pull me forward fifteen or twenty feet at a time. It was incredible to feel how much power could come from a sheet of lightweight fabric and a light breeze. I was having a blast!

I went and got my skis and then waited for another large kite so I could try zipping back and forth across the lake. There are a lot of similarities between kite skiing and sailing and, if you know what you're doing, it's even possible to sail into the wind. In fact, it's even possible to sail up mountains! The crew from Kite Yukon use their kites as chair lifts when they go into the mountains, kite skiing up and then skiing back down.

I tried to take pictures while I waited for a kite, but my camera batteries died in the cold. After warming them up, I managed to get a few shots before they died again.

Schwatka Lake was full of colourful kites, from little training kites to massive foils.

Zooming along on skis...

My favourite picture of the day - Practising on a big kite with Grey Mountain in the background.

I finally got a big kite and got to feel what it's like to zip across the lake powered by nothing but the wind. It was awesome. While I didn't quite master using the larger kite with the skis, I did enough of it to know that I want to do it again.

I hear that they'll be doing demonstrations and lessons again on January 5th. Woohoo!


Dibutil said...

I have published your article at if you don't mind. The reference to the original is given, of course :-)

Meandering Michael said...

Not a problem!