The Xth Annual Mille Lacs Kite Crossing Stoked the Fire

Once again we returned to the big frozen body of water, as we have now for ten years, to stoke the fire, to ride out into the horizon, and push ourselves beyond our normal ride.  We gather to share stories, to laugh, to be silly, and to connect.  For many of us it is a late winter ritual, for others it was their first time adding their color to the sky.   Some came to race, many came just to play.  The conditions challenged us all, but we all challenged the idea that a cold day meant a day to stay inside.

For many of us it is a late winter ritual, for others it was their first time adding their color to the sky.

Jenn Barnett Photos

Jenn Barnett Photos

The Xth Annual Mille Lacs Kite Crossing unfolded as so many sessions in the wind do.  We have thoughts about what it might be like,  and… ultimately mother nature determines our ride…but not our stoke. What we were given was an incredible couple of days of sun, winds, and an out-of-this-world landscape of snow. We had planned quite a few activities, many challenged by the temps, so we did what we do to enjoy these great winters; we rode and rode.

and… ultimately mother nature determines our ride…but not our stoke.

Friday had riders checking out the conditions as volunteers prepared the event site.  The evening at the Harbor Inn was rocking to the Wailing Loons, as more and more riders showed.  The fire was being stoked for the big race and the weekend to come.

The race was 18.4 miles.  It took us out to the Northeast from Garrison.  The snow was an incredible texture, untracked and untouched.  Firm but reflecting a time when the wind sculpted the surface into rolling drifts and white dunes.  To then fling ourselves as fast as we possible could across this uncertain surface was to ride on-the-edge, quickly warming the coldest of us all.  It was a bit surreal out there in that vast expanse, like you’re on another planet.  Veils of loose snow ahead indicated the upcoming charge to the ride as the energy would be taken up a notch and the gust would make it a challenge to hold your line.  The higher you took your kite to depower, the less your edges held, the lower you had your kite, the more you relied on those edge(s) to find consistent bite on the unknown surface.  It was a challenge.  And I highly doubt anyone was anything but drenched in sweat at the conclusion.

Jenn Barnett Photo

Jenn Barnett Photos

After the race, many continued to ride.  Others grabbed a warm spot near a fire, in a tent or in their cars before heading out to play more like we always do, with the freedom to choose your path, your speed, your ride.

It was great to join small gatherings, in a tent, around the fire, in a toasty van, or in the hot tub (ok maybe that one wasn’t a small gathering).  In some ways the weather pulled us together, out of the cold, to BS, to share stories of our time out on race, stories from our ride back home, and friends who weren’t able to join us this year.

The social hour started early at the Y Club and the energy started to build.  We packed the place and there were so many smiles.  It was a great vibe.  The volume of the room reflected the stoke of this great community.  The food at the banquet was amazing (thank you YClub), and the award ceremony was a gas.  So much support for each other, so much craziness… we are such a great group.

Jenn Barnett photo

Jenn Barnett photos












…there is so much more at the core of our passion that binds us.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be a part of such a wonderful group of people. We share a skill to ride the wind, but there is so much more at the core of our passion that binds us.  It’s events like the Kite Crossing when our friends from Canada, from Iowa, from Wisconsin and the Dakotas join us on this big frickin lake, that we’re reminded how fortunate we are to have this connection.

I cannot, not recognize the efforts that went into making this event what it is.  Fleet 8’s, and especially Mike Fox’s vision and execution over the last 10 years has been nothing but amazing.  The incredible efforts of so many volunteers, and the businesses that said “yes, I want to support the kiting community” and contributed money, or product, or services to help bring this to life.  Thank you all.

Jenn Barnett Photo

Jenn Barnett Photos

We did it.  Another great Kite Crossing.  All of you who made the voyage to the lake, to join in, thank you.   I Look forward to seeing you…out there, in the wind.  If not, hopefully next year when we return to that big frozen body of water…Lake Mille Lacs.

Top finishers

1. Marty Roy
2. Jeff Cole
3. Bryce Johnson

1. Kate Perkins
2. Amanda Burggraff

1. Adam Burggraff
2. Jeremy Jones
3. Roland Rioux

Womens Snowboard
1. Vicky Hanson

1. Pete Nierenhausen

Great job to all!

The Kite Crossing was presented by:
Dynamik Kiteboarding, LAKAWA Kiteboarding, and the Mille Lacs Messenger.

Additional Support provided by:
Aitkin Independent Age, Cabrinha, Slingshot Kite, Deerwood Bank, End of Session, EverGreene Jewelers, Excelsior Brewing Company, the Garrison Commercial Club, Grain Studio, Peace Coffee, Pop Chips, Sociable Cider Werks, and the Y Club.

Photos courtesy Jenn Barnett, see more of her work at

Also check out the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing Facebook page.

About the author


Tighe Belden has been riding the wind for over 30 years. He has been active in the windsport community for over 3 decades, as an instructor, event coordinator, creator of Lakawa and now End of Session, and stokes people on the latest gear as a Tech Ambassador for Slingshot Sports.