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rofer


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question.gif posted on 9-22-2016 at 06:46 PM
Kite Touring Expedition Logistics


Copying the background from my other kite touring thread:
Quote:

So, now that the temperatures are just beginning to drop I'm already thinking about snowkiting. Specifically, I've always loved the idea of using a kite to travel a sizable distance and I think I'm ready to start taking steps to get into kite touring.

I love the idea of making an Antarctic crossing to the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, but I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready for that intense of a journey. More reasonably though, I'd like to cross Lake Erie from Presque Isle, PA to Canada and back. At 30 miles (each way) I figure with good wind it should easily be a day trip, but even in no wind I should be able to get back to civilization.


Here are the logistics I've worked out so far:
Safety
So, the first danger I can think of is of course falling through the ice. I intend to wear ice picks (under my arm so they can't slide off) and my drysuit. That way even if I do fall through it's not a big deal. If I can find a second person then I'll also be bringing a throw rope to help out if needed. A towel and change of clothing would also probably be a good idea.

For more general survival stuff I have some basic first aid training, but I'm thinking it's probably worthwhile to get wilderness first aid certified before I head out. I'll definitely be bringing a first aid kit I'm familiar with.

For communication with the outside world I certainly don't expect my phone to be any good. I'll bring at minimum a personal locator beacon or possibly a satellite messenger if I find one that seems worth the substantially service fees. Additionally, as a ham radio operator I believe I could get a radio that would reach across the lake, but I don't know if there would be any reason for this if I have a PLB.

Gear
So, I already started another thread to ask about skis. It looks like an alpine touring setup with collapsible poles and a pair of skins is the way to go should the wind die.

For kites I'll likely have my 6m and 9m Peak 2s as together they cover a huge range and take very little space.

I also intend to bring a four season bivy sack so I can spend the night if need be. Ideally this would be a day trip on Saturday, but should the wind totally die I want to be prepared to spend a night out on the ice.

Obviously if I'm going to be potentially spending the night I'll want to pack enough water and food too.

For navigation I'm hoping to use a decent GPS watch with my cell phone as a backup. Being out in the middle of the lake I expect GPS reception to be excellent. I'm not sure if it would be of much use, but I could always bring a compass too.

I'm not sure what to use for ice testing or how often I should do it. It seems like things range from just observing the ice, to trying to jab something sharp through it, to actually using a augur and measuring the thickness. At the very minimum I'll want to test the ice around where I make camp (if I get stuck overnight), but

To carry all the stuff I plan on taking I'll be using some kind of pulk towed behind me. I'm thinking I'll put all of my gear into a big plastic barrel then load that onto the pulk, that way all the gear stays weatherproofed and should float (if I don't pack it too densely). I imagine I could make the trip with much less and skip the pulk, but I'd like to bring it so 1) I can take a bunch of gear and 2) so later I can move on to longer trips where one will be necessary.

Training
I'm definitely not ready to go do this tomorrow (ignoring the fact that we're months away from the lake freezing). I intend acquire all the stuff I need then practice each new thing. Certainly I'll need practice with the skis (both with and without the kite), then I'll want to practice pulling my pulk and navigating with the GPS. In addition, I'll also spend a couple nights out on the lake (but near the shore) to be sure I'm ready to camp there should I get stuck.

I might even purposefully go through the ice (with some friends nearby) so I can practice using my ice picks to get out. The benefit here would be mostly psychological. If I've gone through the ice a few times before my expedition I'm less likely to panic should it happen while I'm far from shore.

Misc
I imagine the best thing I could do for my safety is to bring another person along. I don't want to start asking around until I've worked out most of the details, but I think it's possible I could find someone else who's interested.

Questions
So, primarily I'm interested to hear what other people think about this and where I can learn more about the details of actually doing something like this. I also have a few more specific questions.

Is there any way to plan a route ahead of time or am I best just trying to go straight and going around hazards as I encounter them? There's a group (that I can no longer find) who are planning a lateral traversal of Lake Erie and they claimed to have some kind of map of pressure ridges, but I didn't think those always formed at predictable places.




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Windstruck


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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 04:48 AM


Love your choice of kites! :D

Be sure to secure a GoPro to the pulk so you can record your epic trek. It certainly seems as if you are putting good, proper thought into this. I don't have much substantive to add so I won't weigh in again on the substance.

I really hope this comes together for you. Go Dog Go! :thumbup:




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Feyd


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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 05:10 AM


It's a good start.

Fitness is critical. All the best measures and gear in the world won't help if you are too fatigued and don't have the strength to rescue yourself. Put in as many flying hours as you can before you make your attempt. Get to the point that you can do 100 miles or more in a single session with relative comfort.

While on the subject of self rescue, ice pics are always good to have but the kite is your first best bet for getting out of the ice.

About pressure ridges. Some occur pereniall, often influenced by topography but some randomly. They are by far one of the most dangerous obstacles out there as they can open up areas or collapse beneath you. And they are constantly changing. We could go on for hours about ice dynamics. Most of anything we could cover is on the Hardwater Kiting website though and also on pages linked to the site. So we dont have to reinvent the wheel here.

In regards to PLBs, one of the units we sell is the SPOT locator. $150 per year is the service cost. Not particularly expensive IMO for the levelof protection it offers and for the piece of mind it gives to both you the participant and those who are about you and want to know your status. Ome touch action is better at times than trying to use an actual radio. especially if you are in the drink. The ability to review your tracks and all the social media stuff is pretty sweet to. You can rent a SPOT, cost is a out $20 a day.

Go through the ice in controlled conditions. Yes. This is something that we have toyed around with here and are considering making part of our school program. The key to a successful self extraction is keeping your head when things go bad. The best way to do that is first hand knowledge of what occurs when you go through. The sensations and how the situation changes as you are in the water over time. Even start now by simply jumping in a pool in full gear.

I will say I have no experience going through with a pulk. We tend to travel light and fast here with minimal material support so a pull isn't usually needed. Everything we carry can be fit in our packs. Also, the packs are waterproof. The pack serves as flotation and keeps your stuff dry when you go through.

One of the biggest challenges will be getting a fix on how the weather and winds affect the if sheet. Both historically and while you are out. We've seen sheets of ice 10 square miles or more get busted up and pushed out by the wind. I still find it unnerving. Best bet maybe is to define regions and then week local knowledge for each portion.








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Feyd


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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 05:28 AM


Keeping all this prep in mind. The biggest variable here is simply not knowing the nature of the lake. For example if conditions are primo and everything falls into place, our clients, with no real ice or snow kite experience, can burn 40-50 miles round trip no problem. And the more experienced and local riders will do 100-150 miles in 5-10 hrs. My last race at Mille Lacs was 14 miles and I banged that out in I think 28 minutes. That was with two ski ejecting crashes on course.

Success in this type of kiting relies heavily on your skiing ability.


How deep is the water where you plan to cross?






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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 06:22 AM


Winds may always shift or drop.... but have the option to pick a day with a prime wind forecast.

Find latest ice info(thickness) from local groups and their web sites that use that lake in winter like snowmobile/ ice fisherman groups...also Great Lakes Coast Guard may have latest ice info?...

A short axe to chop test hole, plus a LONG ice screw for anchoring that can also be a measuring device to see if ice is a at least(length of screw cut) good thickness.

Do regular spaced stops and checking.... but that may be unrealistic to constantly stop yourself if going 20-30+ mph every couple minutes, put the kite down, make a hole, put ice 'tester' away, launch the kite and buzz for another couple minutes... and repeat the whole process. You may have to space ice testing out more. Short of having a snowmobiler recon and test drill the whole route just before you go....you can only check what is reasonable with time and energy.


Besides picking the best wind day.... pick the deepest freeze period to go. Talk to those who are 'regulars' out there and know the lake with regard to on ice in that region(crossing).


Of course if overnight on ice is required, you will need not just a warm winter(down for lightness and compactness)sleeping bag, but appropriate sleeping pads to lay on-not for comfort- but critically for insulation from ice/snow surface. Do a practice sleep out in exposed area to see if you can not just survive.... but actually sleep comfortably(warm).
( Don't know if you have slept out in winter, so this may all be known to you..... but stated here in case it's not.)


Get lots of practice with gear first, including to make sure you are comfortable with boots you will be in all day... be very familiar with all gear in all situations. know adjustments of binding, any extra parts you should bring.

Get many hours of gear use on other shorter day trips before this journey and develop good ergonomics, technique for efficient movement. If you wind up having to put away kite and do long 'tour' back, efficient movement can speed up travel time drastically.

Pulling a pulk may have it's problems... flipping..... going thru ice with it :o...

As Feyd touched upon, consider fitting 'side gear'(other kite,extra clothes, sleeping bag/bivy, down jacket, tools, food and water...) into a large well fitting internal frame pack(floatable sealed storage ) instead of pulling a pulk..... it should all be able to fit. Pulks are usually used for EXCESSIVE gear. You shouldn't have THAT much-nor should it be too heavy. Practice kite skiing with moderate weighted pack.

More safety:some wear a flotation vest. Wear NO COTTON clothing: Synthetics(best) or wool.

Dire circumstances wish list?: Satellite phone....... (Flare gun?)

Don't go alone is best idea and precaution.

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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 07:06 AM


All this sounds like a big fantasy to me. The most important component, some meaningful experience, seems to be lacking. Once you get some experience, these plans may undergo a transformation similar to a big baloon meeting a sharp pin.

My only suggestion at this point would be to avoid ice completely. Do some touring first on land (out west etc), where you will not put yourself in danger quickly.
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skimtwashington




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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 08:26 AM



Quote:

All this sounds like a big fantasy to me. The most important component, some meaningful experience, seems to be lacking. Once you get some experience, these plans may undergo a transformation similar to a big baloon meeting a sharp pin.


Fair enough.


It is a fantasy right now.


Quote:

Get many hours of gear use on other shorter day trips before this journey and develop good ergonomics, technique for efficient movement.



I probably was not clear enough or strong enough in my caution. I laid out technical aspects first, before my cautioning on all the experience needed later in my post........ and perhaps I did not suggest strongly enough that he not just get lots of experience, but COMPETENCE with gear and terrain before any serious trip as crossing Lake Erie.

Yes, and to be clearer... I totally agree... that he should gets lots of kite-less experience with Alpine Touring equipment on tours through woods. Flats, uphills, downhill...even a few days at down hill area with lessons from a pro, or an experienced AT friend/local.

I (and Feyd) were merely pointing out a lot of technical aspects of such a trip..the needs, precautions, gear and EXPERIENCE required...which in itself- to a sane person without experience- should be halting in itself. I was not suggesting he go without learning over many,many days all that he should.. or was hoping to make that clear.

Though it may be a big fantasy-given his limited or complete lack of experience in many area... I say let him fantasize and work PROPERLY toward his goal.

A lot of wide experiences will either bust his balloon or move him forward to it..... because he likes the gear, experiences...the work up the learning curve... the successes... the confidence building .....

But your post is a rightly reminder of the caution and danger, and the need for much experience before such a trip.

I hope he's 'getting it', anyway.

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[*] posted on 9-23-2016 at 01:08 PM


Quote:

It's a good start.
Fitness is critical. All the best measures and gear in the world won't help if you are too fatigued and don't have the strength to rescue yourself. Put in as many flying hours as you can before you make your attempt. Get to the point that you can do 100 miles or more in a single session with relative comfort.

How would I go about getting so many miles in without taking on similar risks to an expedition like this? I was thinking possibly some smaller (or maybe even longer trips), but along the coastline rather than out into the lake. That way I'm never too far from shore.

Quote:

While on the subject of self rescue, ice pics are always good to have but the kite is your first best bet for getting out of the ice.

Yup, I remember your video where you broke through. I was impressed how easy you made it look getting out.
Quote:

About pressure ridges. Some occur pereniall, often influenced by topography but some randomly. They are by far one of the most dangerous obstacles out there as they can open up areas or collapse beneath you. And they are constantly changing. We could go on for hours about ice dynamics. Most of anything we could cover is on the Hardwater Kiting website though and also on pages linked to the site. So we dont have to reinvent the wheel here.

Yeah, I scoured the ice blog you linked to last winter and I'll certainly do it again before I touch the ice this winter. That's where I got the idea to use a drysuit. It seems most people consider this overkill, but it definitely seems worthwhile to me (especially since my drysuit is so comfortable). However, I'm a little worried the drysuit makes me feel a little too invincible.
Quote:

In regards to PLBs, one of the units we sell is the SPOT locator. $150 per year is the service cost. Not particularly expensive IMO for the levelof protection it offers and for the piece of mind it gives to both you the participant and those who are about you and want to know your status. Ome touch action is better at times than trying to use an actual radio. especially if you are in the drink. The ability to review your tracks and all the social media stuff is pretty sweet to. You can rent a SPOT, cost is a out $20 a day.

I know you can get PLBs without any extra features that have no service cost. If I were regularly making these kinds of trips the $150/yr would be easy to justify, but for just a couple trips I'm not sure. I'm definitely taking some kind of satellite locator beacon though.
Quote:

Go through the ice in controlled conditions. Yes. This is something that we have toyed around with here and are considering making part of our school program. The key to a successful self extraction is keeping your head when things go bad. The best way to do that is first hand knowledge of what occurs when you go through. The sensations and how the situation changes as you are in the water over time. Even start now by simply jumping in a pool in full gear.

Good to hear! I was on the fence about this as obviously going through the ice in the winter is risky, but if I'm out on the ice long enough I'll inevitably go through at some point so I should be ready for it.
Quote:

I will say I have no experience going through with a pulk. We tend to travel light and fast here with minimal material support so a pull isn't usually needed. Everything we carry can be fit in our packs. Also, the packs are waterproof. The pack serves as flotation and keeps your stuff dry when you go through.

Even with the gear to spend the night you think a pulk is unnecessary? I imagine by picking a day with a solid forecast (which was always the plan) we shouldn't need to spend the night and perhaps it's not worth bringing that stuff.

Even if it's not needed I certainly like the idea of bringing a pulk and one day might be interested in a trip where one is required. Do you think it significantly complicates things? I was planning on using a barrel on top so that should it tip over my gear doesn't fall out and packing it so that it should float in case it break through. With a reasonably long tow rope I was thinking I could limit the chance we both go through together (though I don't imagine that would complicate things much).
Quote:

One of the biggest challenges will be getting a fix on how the weather and winds affect the if sheet. Both historically and while you are out. We've seen sheets of ice 10 square miles or more get busted up and pushed out by the wind. I still find it unnerving. Best bet maybe is to define regions and then week local knowledge for each portion.

Local knowledge would be very helpful, but I'm not sure if there's anyone who regularly heads far from shore. I'll definitely be asking around though. I'm on the local ice fishing forums already so I'll see what people there know.

Quote:

Winds may always shift or drop.... but have the option to pick a day with a prime wind forecast.

Definitely the plan. I'm doing this solely for myself so I can afford to wait until the forecast looks great.
Quote:

Find latest ice info(thickness) from local groups and their web sites that use that lake in winter like snowmobile/ ice fisherman groups...also Great Lakes Coast Guard may have latest ice info?...

Got access to the ice fishing forums last year. I have no idea if they go out nearly this far on Lake Erie, but I'll certainly check.
Quote:

A short axe to chop test hole, plus a LONG ice screw for anchoring that can also be a measuring device to see if ice is a at least(length of screw cut) good thickness.

Do regular spaced stops and checking.... but that may be unrealistic to constantly stop yourself if going 20-30+ mph every couple minutes, put the kite down, make a hole, put ice 'tester' away, launch the kite and buzz for another couple minutes... and repeat the whole process. You may have to space ice testing out more. Short of having a snowmobiler recon and test drill the whole route just before you go....you can only check what is reasonable with time and energy.

Yeah, I've been wondering how often is reasonable. Obviously I'd always rather be kiting than testing ice, but I'd also always rather be on top of the ice than under it. One of my ice screws is longer than the other and could be used for this, but if I'm making enough holes an augur might make things faster, right?
Quote:

Besides picking the best wind day.... pick the deepest freeze period to go. Talk to those who are 'regulars' out there and know the lake with regard to on ice in that region(crossing).

Yup, all winter I'm always watching ice conditions because that's the only place I can kite around here.
Quote:

Of course if overnight on ice is required, you will need not just a warm winter(down for lightness and compactness)sleeping bag, but appropriate sleeping pads to lay on-not for comfort- but critically for insulation from ice/snow surface. Do a practice sleep out in exposed area to see if you can not just survive.... but actually sleep comfortably(warm).
( Don't know if you have slept out in winter, so this may all be known to you..... but stated here in case it's not.)

Get lots of practice with gear first, including to make sure you are comfortable with boots you will be in all day... be very familiar with all gear in all situations. know adjustments of binding, any extra parts you should bring.

As I mentioned above, I'll definitely be spending a few nights out on the ice before I commit to something like that. I realize it's not a good idea to try anything new on an expedition like this and each piece of this will be practiced beforehand until I'm very comfortable with all of it.
Quote:

Get many hours of gear use on other shorter day trips before this journey and develop good ergonomics, technique for efficient movement. If you wind up having to put away kite and do long 'tour' back, efficient movement can speed up travel time drastically.

Practicing short 'tour's on the skis should give me something to do on the days when there isn't wind. I certainly won't attempt this until I'm comfortable going many miles without the kite.
Quote:

Pulling a pulk may have it's problems... flipping..... going thru ice with it :o...

As Feyd touched upon, consider fitting 'side gear'(other kite,extra clothes, sleeping bag/bivy, down jacket, tools, food and water...) into a large well fitting internal frame pack(floatable sealed storage ) instead of pulling a pulk..... it should all be able to fit. Pulks are usually used for EXCESSIVE gear. You shouldn't have THAT much-nor should it be too heavy. Practice kite skiing with moderate weighted pack.

I didn't think the pulk would make things much more complicated, but I realize it might not actually be necessary. I'd prefer to pull a light pulk rather than a carrying a pack, but if this is going to make things much more complicated then I certainly could switch to a pack. No matter how I bring my gear I definitely agree that it should float.
Quote:

More safety:some wear a flotation vest. Wear NO COTTON clothing: Synthetics(best) or wool.

I plan to wear a drysuit (I bought mine with this kind of thing in mind) so hopefully what I wear isn't so important. All the same though, drysuits can fail and I'll be sure to wear synthetics/wool underneath. Do you think an impact vest offers enough flotation? I find it more comfortable and it offers impact protection, but I have a lift vest I usually use when
I'm on the water in particularly cold conditions.
Quote:

Dire circumstances wish list?: Satellite phone....... (Flare gun?)

Don't go alone is best idea and precaution.

I don't think satellite phones offer any additional safety over a PLB (which I'll bring at minimum). I'm not sure how much use a flare gun would be far from shore, but it's probably a good idea to bring some flares or something similar to help potential rescuers find me (though my neon orange drysuit should make be pretty visible).

Getting someone else to come along is the top of my wishlist for a trip like this.
Quote:

All this sounds like a big fantasy to me. The most important component, some meaningful experience, seems to be lacking. Once you get some experience, these plans may undergo a transformation similar to a big baloon meeting a sharp pin.

My only suggestion at this point would be to avoid ice completely. Do some touring first on land (out west etc), where you will not put yourself in danger quickly.

The whole point of this thread is to figure out exactly what I need to work on so I could be ready for a trip like this. I'm certainly not planning to do this immediately and I recognize things can change.

Avoiding the ice around here would mean giving up most of the very few snowkiting spots around which isn't something I'm willing to do. I'm totally new to kite touring (and I'll be taking that slow), but I have some experience kiting in other forms and even some snowkiting on frozen lakes. That said, I'm not just blindly heading out as soon as the ice forms. Last season I didn't get a single day on the ice because I was obsessively watching the conditions and they were never good enough for me to feel comfortable. I also have both ice fisherman and other snowkiters around.




Water: 2013 Edge 7m, Cronix 12m, 2013 Flite 17m
Land: Peak 2 6m & 9m, Speed 4 8m

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Windstruck


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[*] posted on 9-24-2016 at 07:29 AM


That was 17 embedded quotes! That's got to be some sort of record. :thumbup:



Kites:
Born-Kite LongStar-2 (3.5m, 5.5m, 7.5m, 9.5m, 12.5m);
Born-Kite NASA Star-3 (1.5m, 2.5m, 3.2m, 4.0m; z-bridled for handle flying)

Buggy:
Peter Lynn Bigfoot+ modified with VTT rail & seat kit (a seriously great performance upgrade), two sets of Sysmic rims (one set with BigFoot slicks for the "beach" of the Great Salt Lake and the other with 6-ply trailer tires for the Ivanpah playa), and BigKidKites AQR (because it keeps me in the bug and in my marriage)

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pstkk




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[*] posted on 9-25-2016 at 02:57 AM


Long trips with a heavy load become way more comfortable with a pulk. However, for a trip like this you will be just fine with a backpack. If you do decide on using a pulk, then don't be tempted by those super expensive glasfiber ones (Fjellpulken, Acapulka). Cheap and low-tech plastic ones (Erapro Paris Pulk) are good enough for this kind of trip. Only for longer trips with heavier loads, you might need something stronger or you can stack multiple plastic pulks.

One way of stopping the pulk from tipping over, is to use two or more pulks tied together side-by-side. Sometimes refereed to as a catapulk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnkwXz8zmhg


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[*] posted on 9-26-2016 at 09:11 AM


Lots of things in that list.

1. Build your endurance gradually. At the beginning of the season I struggle to burn up 10-15 miles comfortably. Late Jan-Feb is when things get easier. Just burn miles and build up gradually. You don't have to go anywhere just ride and ride a lot.

2. DON'T USE AN AUGER. Ideally you want to keep any holes you make in the ice, small as possible. If you run around drilling with an auger, you will leave big holes. If you get snowfall before those holes freeze solid again, the ice will sag, water will come up and you will have a slush situation. And any amount of snow on top of slush will keep it from freezing. Can take weeks for the problem to go away. A portable drill with a 12" bit will work great for fast and multiple inspection holes. I generally fill the holes back in with the shavings.

3. Drysuit. I've never used one. You get warm riding long distance and sweaty. Having a layering system that vents perspiration is important for comfort as well as safety. I good outer shell with water proof zips will do an amazing job of keeping you dry and afloat if you happen to go through. As dry as a dry suit? No. Not sure if a dry suit is a good choice for this. And as you point out, they do fail. And then what? PFD is mandatory when you don't know what the conditions are or if there is any doubt. Also as noted, they offer impact protection.

Speaking of impact protection. I also wear knee pads. They offer warmth for the knee joints, protection in a crash as well as kneeling, and they float really well. Between the air in your clothing, a PFD, knee pads and your ski boots, theres a lot of closed cell foam flotation there. :D

Avoiding the ice, not really an option for a lot of us. Besides, it's crazy fun riding ice.

There's got to me a sled neck or two out there that try to push the riding across the lake. Those guys can skim if need be and they tend to be more open to the risk given they can throttle thier way out of trouble a lot. To prove my point...

https://youtu.be/6xNvsJ12ewY




Chris Krug-Owner @ Hardwater Kiting. Authorized Dealer of Ozone, HQ and Flysurfer kites.
www.hardwaterkiter.com 518-407-KITE
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Feyd


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[*] posted on 9-26-2016 at 09:14 AM


This is a good little read.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/its-so-c...




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