Kites For All Seasons,
For kite enthusiasts that live in Bullhead City, Arizona, or along the Colorado River, Tumbleweeds & Tarantula’s is no mere store. It is a destination. This is a one stop shop for kites and kite supplies.
But for Rory Sweet, Rupert Longsdon, Henry Cookson, and veteran polar explorer Paul Landry kites were more than a hobby, or relaxing way to while away an afternoon. This team of British and Canadian explorers organized an expedition with plans to become the first to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility, so named because it lies the farthest from any Antarctic shoreline, on foot.
They arrived in Novo on the Antarctic coast in November. For almost a week they drug dredges loaded with supplies across crevassed glaciers to the Antarctic plateau thousands of feet above sea level. At the top of the glacier where additional supplies of food and fuel had been airdropped, they unfurled huge kites linked to harnesses around their waists, and let the leads out until the kites were soaring fifty feet overhead.
At times they reached speeds of 30mph. That enabled them to cover vast distances across the snowy wilderness, sometimes more than 60 miles a day.
These were not the first artic explorers to harness the power of the wind with sales and kites. In 1888, Fridtjof Nansen led a team of explorers and became the first people to cross the Greenland ice cap. They used sails and sails as large kites attached to sleds to help move the heavy cargo across the ice.
In 1989, Arved Fuchs and Reinhold Messner used kites on their historic South Pole expedition. Borge Ousland perfected kite skiing is on his record setting solo crossing of Antarctica in 1996.
Recently National Geographic chronicled the adventures of Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry. They too harnessed the power of the wind to kite ski as they retraced the historic Northwest Passage. On their astounding adventure they traveled more than 2,000 miles across Canada’s frozen Arctic archipelago.
In recent years entrepreneurs have found a lucrative market in adventuresome arctic tourists by blending kite skiing, or kites and snow boards, with glamping. Specialty tour companies now offer a complete package for these type of trips around Hudson Bay, in the far north, in Greenland and even in Antarctica.
Kites For All Seasons
Blending the two sports has become big business at some resorts in upstate New York. Frozen lakes and snow covered fields are ideal for snow kiting.
If you want to enjoy a more conventional event with kites this winter consider the 20th annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scheduled for Saturday, January 28, 2023, this is a free family outdoor event held on the picturesque north end of the lake that is organized by Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, Linden Hills Neighborhood Council and East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association.
You can bring your own kite purchased at Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas, or buy one there. There will be an array of kite flying exhibitions hosted by the Minnesota Kite Society. And as it is a winter event in Minneapolis, there will be live music, ice-fishing lessons and a marshmallow roast with hot chocolate.
In the Colorado River Valley every day is ideal for flying a kite. But if you are a fan of winter, you can enjoy both, with just a bit of planning.
Kites For All Seasons
Written by Jim Hinkley of Jim Hinkley’s America