'Our mountain': Two Duluthians ski 15 miles across Lake Superior
Where were Jake Boyce and Ross Fraboni skiing on Wednesday? Judging by the picture of the two of them peering up into the sky with nothing but snow and ice behind them, the Arctic Circle may be a good guess, but nowhere close to where they actually were.
Boyce and Fraboni, both of Duluth, skied about 15 miles across Lake Superior on Wednesday from the mouth of Amnicon River to the mouth of French River. It took them about three hours to make it across.
"It was really slow snow," Fraboni said. It was wind blown, drifted and sticky. If you had the right wax on your skies it might be a little quicker, but we weren't that picky. We just wanted to do it."
When asked what made them decide to ski across the biggest freshwater lake in the world, both said they just wanted to do it.
"After that wind storm we got this weekend, we knew we had to do it this because we may never get to do it again," Fraboni said. "So we just picked a point and Amnicon looked good and we just went due north from Amnicon until we hit the French River."
Fraboni said he and Boyce had gone out skiing on Lake Superior last week with their families and dogs, but didn't go more than 5 miles out. That kind of sparked the conversation between them about skiing all the way across, and it was spectacular.
"It was pretty spectacular being 7 miles from the shore," Boyce said. "It was a pretty cool experience and it's totally different out there. It was just empty."
Fraboni decided it as "absolutely beautiful."
"That's our mountain here," he said. "I've stood on top of other mountains but in my mind, (Lake Superior) is one of the coolest 'mountains' in the world."
Boyce said when they left Wisconsin around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday it was cloudy and difficult to see.
"So it was kind of fun just navigating by compass for just a little bit," Boyce said. "Then the sun came out and the clouds cleared and it was nice and bright and you could see everything for miles and miles."
Boyce said they were lucky and didn't have any difficulties while skiing across the lake. He said it was extremely smooth and there were no problems.
"It was a pretty ideal day for it," Boyce said. "It was nice and clear the whole time. There was a good forecast so we didn't have to worry about being stuck out there."
But just because it was a nice day out, that doesn't mean Boyce and Fraboni weren't prepared for the worst.
"We had throw ropes, ice picks and a wetsuit just in case one of us fell in. It is ice, so it's never 100 percent safe," Boyce said. "We were prepared and not taking any unnecessary risks. Anytime you're on ice it's risky, so you just have to be prepared."
They also had compasses and GPS, just in case things took a turn for the worse.
"Because you are miles from shore if it gets cloudy and snowy and you can't see, you could very, very easily get turned around," Boyce said.
Boyce and Fraboni studied satellite pictures of Lake Superior before heading out, to make sure they were taking a safe route. Thankfully, nothing bad happened and the day just turned into a great story and a memory to last a lifetime.
"It's not very often that you have a chance to go out at all on Lake Superior away from shore unless you're on a boat," Boyce said. "It was just a very unique experience being way out in the middle with nothing around you but ice and snow."