Tuesday, April 22, 2014

learning to kite ski

There's a pretty good kiting crowd here in Cambridge Bay - kite-surfing in the summer, and kite-skiing or kite-boarding in the winter. They're really friendly and they always seem open to letting newcomers try it out.  This weekend I joined them on the ice with the intention of just photographing them, but ended up trying my hand at the trainer kite.

on the ice

look at me!
photo courtesy of Chris Hummel

photo courtesy of Chris Hummel

photo courtesy of Chris Hummel

Controlling the kite seems like an easy concept in theory, but it's a lot harder in real life. The wind can change at any moment, and even on a day where it doesn't seem particularly windy, one gust of the wind and sudden turn of the kite could feel like your arms are being ripped off. You have to react quickly and watch what is going on at all times.

Having the quick reflexes of a snail on sleeping pills, I may or may not have accidentally dropped the kite down on trucks/people multiple times. It's good to try these things out in the middle of nowhere, safe and far away from obstacles/victims.  We were in the middle of the frozen Arctic ocean, but my kite still managed to find things to drop down on.

I started to view the kite as a living thing, an animal that you have to pay attention to, to predict its behaviour and attend to its needs.  M told us you never turn your back on the kite when you're out on your board, because one bad move, one gust of wind, and you're being dragged across the Arctic Ocean halfway to Bay Chimo...and not necessarily on your feet either. But you treat it right, and you could be having the thrill of your life, flying across the ice like you're riding on the back of a hippogriff.  Who knew that kite flying could be so fun?

Then M. strapped on his skis to show us how it's done.

And away he went!

I feel pretty lucky that activities like this are available to me pretty much on my front step. I just have to walk out my door and down towards the dock and there waits another Arctic adventure. With the sun setting close to 10PM these days and next month, not setting at all, we've got all the time in the world to go on adventures.