Updated: 04/30/2014 11:06 PM
Created: 04/29/2014 3:34 PM WDIO.com
By: Laura Kennedy
There's a bit of mystery swirling around those brave enough to surf Lake Superior. There is no water too cold, no waves too small.
"The coldest I've probably surfed, I think it was ten below, 17-below windchill in 33 degree water," said Jon Kirkeide. "There was like six or seven of us."
For them, a stormy spring is the best kind.
"We're elusive because it's so rare that the conditions come up like this. It's so infrequent," said Erik Wilkie.
Wilkie grew up on the West Coast. Surfing the waters here offers a touch of home, with a little more bite.
"While it looks similar to California surfing, it's a unique sport all its own up here," he said. "The Great Lakes are different."
"All that little bit of danger factor makes it so much fun here," Wilkie said. "The icy cold water that gives you hypothermia, the chunks of ice all floating around, the mud you sink into knee deep."
Surfers pay close attention to both the wind and the direction of the waves. One spot may be a little too intense for surfing, but just a half mile down the road conditions could be much better.
"This particular storm here we're been watching for about four or five days," Wilkie said.
When the waves beckon, Kirkeide answers the call.
"You try to keep it open, you try to watch the weather," Kirkeide said. "There's been times where I've pulled the work pin and driven 900 miles to Marquette."
They say surfing keeps them young, and it's a good reason to stay in shape.
"We range in age from our early 20s to our mid 50s or so," Wilkie said. "But when we get out there in the water, we're all 15, having a good time."
"It's a trying experience because you have to know the currents and you have to have paddle power, be a good swimmer," Kirkeide said.
They sit patiently, watching for the perfect wave. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn't. But the thrill of it all is worth waiting for.
"Trying to be in the right spot at the right time with the right gear in the right shape, everything doesn't always come together but when it does it's a sweet moment and you always remember it," Kirkeide said.
MN Congressional Delegation and Lt. Gov. Meet at White House About Steel Imports
Minnesota's federal lawmakers met with officials at the White House on Friday, to press their case about the problem of steel imports.
Gogebic Taconite Withdraws Wisconsin Application
The state Department of Natural Resources says a company that was looking to open a huge iron mine in northern Wisconsin has officially withdrawn its plans. Gogebic Taconite was considering digging a 4½-mile long mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior but announced last month it was closing its office in Hurley and future investment in the project wasn't feasible.
Girls-Only Shop Class Aims to Narrow Industry Gender Gaps
More women are now pursuing STEM fields, but there's still huge gender gaps in industries like manufacturing, machining and carpentry. a girls-only shop class at one Northland high school might be a way to change that.
Up, Up, and Away: Rare View of Duluth from Hot Air Balloon
Duluth residents were treated to a fairly rare sight over the city on Friday afternoon: two hot air balloons. The pair took off from Bayfront Festival Park around 4:15 p.m. as an effort to drum up excitement about this year's hot air balloon festival in September.
FEMA Awards Grant to Lake County to Mitigate Structure Fires
FEMA has awarded Lake County, Minnesota over $500,000 in a grant for the addition of metal roofing to 65 residential and commercial structures. Construction on some of the buildings can start as soon as the roofing season in northeastern Minnesota begins.