I’ve watched birds since I was young, you know those big birds, the eagles and the hawks.  Soaring in the invisible current.  The smallest movements of their wings sending them higher and higher. I’m drawn to the effortless grace as they soar overhead. I dream of flying, lingering in a string of moments above the world below. I don’t know, I guess I always thought heaven for me would be like this, maybe sharing the winds with those that have been in my life.  The world aligned last weekend to provide me a taste of what that experience might be like.  First a bit of what lead up to this wonderful experience.

 I dream of flying, lingering in a string of moments above the world below.


The Blobs

As always I watched the blobs slowly approaching.  It was looking like the Northwest portion of the state was the place be and surprisingly the system looked to be rolling in middle of the night and would blow through the morning.  I put the call out to others to join.  John suggested camping overnight and hitting it in the morning…oh yeah that’ll work.  Bill liked the idea of heading up the night before wasn’t in to the camping thing.  I think Rob was in his car and just took a left turn when he heard the idea and headed up.

It’s so nice to get out of town.  Saturday was insanely hot in the cities.  John and I stayed at the ShadyOak campground, beautiful quiet spot right on a lake, and closed out our day with nice fire and a wandering conversation.

and closed out our day with nice fire and a wandering conversation

The wind came up around 11pm and howled through the evening.  Mmm.   It was going to be a good day.

After we all met up for breakfast in Alexandria and were at Miltona by 8:30.  Not a soul on the lake.   What amazing water.  While I know the Zebra Mussels reek havoc on our lakes they do make the water beautiful.  On the outside the water was a dark green blue and when you crossed the sandbar that runs along the north end you could easily see the sun and shadows dancing on the surface of the sandy bottom.  Absolutely beautiful crystal clear.

We rode all morning, boosting and carving, and exploring the lake.  By 1:30 I was toast.  All I wanted to do was take a nap in the sun.  John found a nice spot under a kite for a snooze and I told him I was headed out for just a short one, little did I know.

As I was launching my kite, Rob came in and said it had come way up.  As soon as I put my kite skyward, I felt that strong pull at my harness, even in neutral.  Yeah I guess he’s right.  When I hit the water I realized I was pretty much way overpowered.  I think we’ve all been there.  Hard to get dialed in as the only place to fly the kite is high the sky as you edge into the wind.  As I worked my way out to the left of the launch I saw what was creating the wind.  Three massive anvil clouds reaching tens of thousands of feet into the air were marching toward the lake, sucking air as they approached.  Still 15-20 miles away, they were more beautiful than dangerous, and the blue skies created the mood on the lake.  Over the years I’ve ridden in wind generated as storms move close to a lake, on Cannon, on Waconia, and on Mille.  It is the most fan steady wind to be found, ever.

It is the most fan steady wind to be found, ever.

Then opened up before me.  There is this area, just to the south of the point off to the left, before the bay opens up to the north, that will always draw me back.  The swells open up and the lips get clean and long.  It wasn’t a large area, maybe a few thousand feet across or so.  But it completely changed the ride.  Everything became fluid and smooth.  Still riding the kite high, but the steady winds parked it there, while still pulling like an accelerating freight train.  Small glides into the wind took you skyward.  Add a slight movement of the kite to 12 and you were gracefully soaring up and downwind.  Pull down the bar a tad and watch the waves shrink below you and rush past.  The biggest loftiest flights ever. I felt a bit like those birds I have admired for years.  Coming down you could spot the wave face you wanted to caress, and if she got out ahead of you, pulling in the bar kept you up until you were ready to come down and lightly kiss that smooth face.  Mmm so good.  Set the edge and in seconds you could do it all again.  So light, so free….so good.

Pull down the bar a tad and watch the waves shrink below you and rush past.


Rob, Bill and I played out there for quite some time, but eventually the storm was upon us.  The three anvils had be
come one storm, and just like in the movies, soon the fingers of the storm stripped the sun from the water like a spell across the land.  Time to go in.

We hung for a bit and reminisced then headed back to the cities ahead of the storm.  Oh what a day.  What a gift.


A few shots from earlier in the day.  Unfortunately I must have turned on my main camera as I put it in the bag.  Only the GoPro to work with.

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.

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