Fire in the Sky

Lake Superior Northern Lights - credit Travis Novitsky

As we detailed in a post last Novemeber (click here) The Aurora Borealis is going APE in 2012-13! Because of increased solar flare activity the dancing lightshow has been visable in spurts in the northern latitudes since early March.

Here was the original post.

Did you now that an 11-year sun cycle that influences the intensity of Aurora Borealis (better known as the Northern Lights) will peak during 2012 and 2013? Perfect! Enough time to plan a trip to one of these two places, to catch a glimpse of the best Northern Lights show in the Lower 48.

Spending a night beneath this natural, psychedelic light show really ought to be on your backpacking bucket list, especially if you live in the Midwest! Really getting it right is key, and there are a couple of key factors that come into play when deciding where and when to go!

Part 1. Go NORTH! Duh…

Parts 2 & 3. Consider moon phase and equinox – This is because on a moonless night you will be able to see the phenomenon better, and equinox, because the Earth’s magnetic fields will align with the sun and it helps intensify the glow.To get north with ease consider heading back into the bush of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota, or the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both places should provide northern exposed views, and little – if any – light pollution.

Snowshoe deep into the lakeshore near the vernal equinox (March) or do it bug-free in the fall (September).

For Boundary Waters Minnesota, consider Angleworm Lake for low light pollution and camping spots on northern facing shorelines!


Preconceived NOceans

Lake Superior Surfing - Hanging 10 (degrees) credit: Flickr igmaino

One thing is for sure.  Midwestern Surfers are either nuts, the hardcore-est of the hardcore, a mix of both, or something completely all in their own.  Some people would look at this and say “why?” with raised eyebrows. You may have already said that yourself when you looked at the picture above.  Well as I see it, it falls into some of the same categories as to why someone would want to climb a mountain, or run a marathon.  Often times it really comes down to “because I can” or “because no one else has” or “because I want to”.

Famous English climber George Mallory once was asked why he wanted to climb Everest and he replied, “Becasue it’s there.”  The reasoning behind what makes people pursue different adventures may be as simple as the love of the idea that no one else does this, or they relish in telling stories about surfing Lake Superior while gawking faces look on in astonishment.  Maybe it’s the simple fact that they love the feeling of being on the edge, and in their own way hanging ten in the Midwest fulfills that urge and satisfies that feeling.

Any way it lands, the trailer for the upcoming film Preconceived Noceans seems to bite at this urge a bit.  To me, surfing in the dead of winter seems insane but at the same time, I get it because I can see some of my own hobbies and plans causing people to think or say, “why the hell would you want to do that?”

Backcountry Ski Touring…in the Midwest?

Backcountry skiing and the Midwest are about as far apart as you can get.  But hold on!  Marquette Backcountry is introducing a unique backcountry touring ski that mixes the ease of mobility in a snowshoe and smooth gliding of a BC ski.

So let’s say you live in Michigan, or Wisconsin where the forest is thick and the hills small, but rolling.  Imagine being able to glide amongst the spruces in deep lake-effect snow effortlessly, while you make a turn or two down a decline, and can move uphill with just as much ease!

They key is quarter-sized fish scales on the ski’s base catch snow, and allow you to move up without sliding backwards.  Then the placement of the scales allows your ski to slide downhill just as easy.  The ski allows several binding options depending on the stiffness of boot, and style of skiing!

The materials for the ski are sourced domestically in Michigan and are 100% recyclable. It’s made of polypropylene, glass, silicone and brass. (MSRP $189)

I just may have to give these babies a shot!