Today, we’re starting a new outdoors column called “You can’t make this stuff up,” featuring the most unusual fish stories, hunting tales and outdoors experiences we’ve heard.
Our first stop takes us to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where winter is a way of life. Hardy residents there don’t retreat from the snow, cold and ice. Instead, they celebrate it.
Take a look at Explore Minnesota’s list of some of the crazy customs they have come up with:
▪ SKIJORNING: When it’s too cold to go water skiing, Minnesotans turn to the winter version of the pastime. They get out the cross country skis, attach a harness and rope to a team of dogs and get towed on a wild ride across the snow and ice. It has become a popular winter activity at some Minnesota resorts, which even offer lessons and provide dogs for the pulling.
▪ TIME TO POUT: We’re talking abut eelpouts, the lowly bottom feeder that has its own winter festival named after it. The International Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minn., attracts hundreds of fishermen who compete to see who can come up with the strangest behavior. It isn’t all about who can catch the most eelpouts. It’s also about bowling on ice, a frozen wet t-shirt contest, a polar plunge and even weddings on ice. These Minnesotans know how to party.
▪ SNOW TIRES: Minnesotans don’t park their bikes for winter. No matter how snowy or icy it gets, they bundle up and ride their fat-tire bikes. Winter biking races are popular, but families also enjoy the pastime.
▪ ICE FISHING: Lake of the Woods on the Minnesota-Canada border looks like a village on ice in the winter. More than 3,000 ice-fishing houses dot the frozen surface, roads are plowed on the ice, and street signs are put up. The interiors of those winter dwellings can be elaborate. Some are heated by wood-burning stoves, and fishermen relax on old couches or easy chairs. Some even have a second level with sleeping quarters above.
▪ A WINTER MARATHON: The Arrowhead 135 Ultra is a long-distance race across the wilderness of northern Minnesota. Participants have 60 hours to cover 135 miles by skis, bikes or on foot.