This was my 2nd time out this year and third successful snowkiting outing ever. By successful I mean I have tried more times than that but didn’t have the wind for it so it wasn’t a success. This outing went pretty well. I feel much more confident in setting up, flying and tearing down than I did on my first outing.
I was alone as usual since I can’t seem to find anyone out this way who kites. Winds were SSE around 18 with gusts around 22. These are probably the strongest winds I have been in thus far. I parked on the South end of the section on the West side. For anyone who doesn’t know what a section is it is a piece of land one mile by one mile square. Back to the kiting. I walked my lines out West to East so the handle was on the west side and the lines running to the east. Then I carried the kite out to the end of my lines. I set the kite down facing ESE to face it into the wind and keep it from going anywhere. I covered the leading edge in snow just in case. I am pretty much perpendicular to the wind. I connected my lines. I have the color coded back, or steering lines, so it is pretty tough to mess this up. Then I walked back to my bar on the West side of the field. Remember the snow on the kite. I would not have dared do this if the kite wasn’t sitting obediently. I hooked into the harness, checked my safety line and snapped into my skis.
I am all set to go. I started walking South to pull the kite around into the wind to get the kite powered up a bit. This walking around is why I prefer to use skis instead of a snowboard. The kite picked up the wind and started responding. As the kite powered up the snow on the leading edge fell off. I trust the kite and myself a lot more during this process now than I did the first two times out. I got the kite in the air and away I went.
The snow was good and covers the cut wheat stalks underneath pretty well. I ran back and forth across a half-mile section several times. I was able to maintain my position in relation to my truck. To put it another way I was able to return to my truck each time I headed West. In the past I have always lost ground to the wind and had a hard time maintaining my original line. I was even able to get up-wind a bit. A couple times I did lose ground to the wind but was able to work it back when I turned around. It seems like the ability to move up wind depends on how much you edge against the pull. By leaning into the wind and edging heavily I could maintain my position in relation to the wind. Pretty cool and very useful. I was able to one-hand the bar some and watch where I was going more today. As you can imagine, that is helpful. I had better luck keeping the kite in the sweet spot too. Both of these things seem to be something you just need to get a feel for and I am not sure if anyone can teach you that.
At the end of the day I was able to steer the kite on the side of the truck protected from the wind and drop it in just a few feet from the truck. It was a perfect landing. With the truck blocking the wind I was able to walk up the break lines and deflate the kite. I really need to get an ice screw so I have somewhere to attach the kite when I am done. This would be easier.
One more thing I was playing with today was the power strap on the lines. It did seem to make it easier to maintain a steady pull without as much back and forth with the bar. I need to play with that some more but I now understand it a little better.
On a side note, several snowmobilers stopped to watch me for a while. Maybe they will convert. I could hear the coyotes howling too. It was another good day. The only thing that would have been better was if someone else had been out there kiting with me. If you are interested in going next time send me a note.
- Edging is important to maintaining your line