Heather Schenck >> Montana Memorial Weekend Meltdown
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Montana Memorial Weekend Meltdown
We all know kiting is a weather dependent sport and we chase the conditions as best we can. One of the first rules I was taught was you don’t leave wind to find wind. But when its raining do you follow it? This past holiday weekend had rain in the forecast as the skies poured all around me in Utah. The forecast for this past weekend was mixed bag of wet weather with nothing rewarding predicted. The moral of this story is if you don’t go you just don’t know. Sometimes you have to stick to your plans and you just may find out that wherever you are is the best damn place to be.
It was a drizzly Thursday afternoon heading north bound on I15 across Utah. By the time we hit Willard Bay the kiters that got the hour session were already packed up and watching the rain drops on the windshield. This meant no roadside session on this leg of the trip but the Ozone van was loaded down with everything from water to snow gear ready for what may come ahead. Friday morning found us at Canyon Ferry meeting up with Joel and Tony from Montana Kite Sports. The drizzle was now on its 24th hour and it suddenly began to increase its intensity. We decided not to brave the cold waters and gusty winds and move on to the prime destination of Martinsdale Reservoir. We found an empty beach head on the Res with shoreline camping and a grassy launch. The location got 2 thumbs up and looked to be a kitesurfers paradise but the torrential down pour did not inspire us to pump up a kite. How do you turn a cold wet Montana day into a good one? Head to the nearest hot spring and soak away the day. After the hot springs we found the town pub and the new bar owner was also a budding kitesurfer himself, what a small world.
Dawn patrol Saturday brought clearing winds and the skies began to open. 1 coffee and 2 breakfast burritos later, it was Zephyr time! The air was 38 degrees and the water was cold but if felt like summer in my wet suit as I laid fresh tracks across the glassy bay. The wind crept up through out the day and more kiters showed up on the beach. By sunset there was a couple dozen people camped on launch with several new comers enjoying their first rides and advance riders showing their aerial maneuvers. The wind increased through out the day and did not stop at night, allowing for a great day of kite demos. The Zephyr showed its range from being the first on the water to hanging out with 11 meter kites, (the Wrecking Ball who weighs in at **** gave the Zephyr 2 thumbs up). The hardest part of demoing all the Ozone kites side by side is picking a favorite. Nothing was faster than the Edge, nothing was funner than the C4 and no kite made you feel more free than the Catalyst. If I had just looked at the temperatures or the bleek forecast I would have never left my home, but looking back at the powered 10 meter sessions I am so glad I was there.
After a couple of great days with the Montana crew, camping, cooking and living the life it was time for Heather and I to kick out what is typically our last Snowkite session of the year in the rockies. Sunday found us a few hours to the south just across the Wyoming boarder in the Big Horns. We hit the forecast perfect, what had been the rain just days before left a fresh layer of snow at 10,000 feet in the biggies. Upon arrival we watched a 9 meter Frenzy on a lone kiter from Billings dancing through the skies carving up fresh tracks on the North side of the road. That left the entire south half including Mt Baldy untracked. Our friend Todd from Cody had followed us up the highway and was just as eager to get his Manta’s out as we were. On skis he took and 8 meter while Heather and I used 10 meter Mantas on our snowboards. While it’s the end of the season for the Big Horns it would end up being one of my best days on the snow this year. The massive terrain and huge exposure you get while riding the slopes of Baldy reminds one that this is one of the most scenic places you can Snowkite. For the second day in a row the wind would not let up and we kited lit up on 10 meters into the evening.
Always ready for the next adventure we packed up and crossed the valley to the rival Beartooths. Unlike the clear skies we had in the biggies the Beartooths had been plagued by stormy weather all weekend and the pass was closed separating Montana from Wyoming kiters. Despite the road closure that gave access to the main snowkiting locations the highways were still clear to the Top of the World riding areas. One of my favorite things about being here at this time of year is sharing the feeling of camaraderie with other winter die hards. It was awesome to see snowkiters with license plates ranging from Minnesotta, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. All far from home but we all felt at home in this mountain paradise. We were stoked to be on our big kites and flying 12 meter Manta and Frenzy’s. I was reminded of the many advantages snowkiting can offer a back country skier as we watched a group of first time kiters who made the best of their weekend staying warm while learning to kite. Even though the pass was closed and they could not access the down hill runs they drove 100’s of miles, smiles were on their faces as they were sliding accross the snow on their skis under kite power.
By Monday afternoon the storms rolled in again dropping more snow on the Beartooths and rain across Yellowstone as we turned in our kiter helmets for tourist hats. The moral of this story, you don’t know if you don’t go, even if the forecast blows.