Events Outdoors Travel

I DID THE MINNESOTA WILD’S “THIS IS OUR ICE” 10,000 LAKES CHALLENGE

I'm collecting water from one of my favorite lakes and documenting the 300-mile journey down to the Minnesota Wild's hockey game at Xcel Energy Center. The water is going to be added to the ice surface and joining the Wild's #OurIce tradition.

It’s no secret, I am a fan of our lakes, rivers and streams. They don’t call me “Girl of 10,000 Lakes” for nothing. That’s why when I first heard about the Minnesota Wild’s “This Is Our Ice” 10,000 Lakes Challenge, I had to seize the opportunity to not only team up with my favorite hockey team, but also be part of the organization’s #OurIce tradition.

Full disclosure, this blog post is #sponsored by the Minnesota Wild, but everything you’ll read and see here is my real experience and my own opinions.

Started in 2017, the #OurIce tradition is simple: Collect water from a source that is special to you and bring it to any home game. Water can be from your favorite lake, river, stream, pond or hockey rink, which will then be added to the home ice at the Xcel Energy Center. The goal for the 2018-2019 season? The Wild is asking fans to help collect water from all 10,000+ Minnesota lakes.

A LAKE THAT IS DEAR TO ME: BIRCH LAKE

Minnesota Wild 10,000 Lakes Challenge

I went on an ice fishing trip on the Gunflint Trail this winter. It’s just north of Grand Marais. I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to collect water from one of my favorite lakes, Birch Lake. It’s located at the Laurentian Divide scenic overlook. More on what a Laurentian Divide is in a moment.

Birch Lake is actually pretty difficult to get to in the winter. Very slowly and carefully, my husband Nick, my pup Kiwi and I made it down a steep, snowy pathway to get to the lake. It is worth the challenge though!

Here’s why I chose Birch Lake: The water is super clean, clear and deep. There’s a variety of trout including rainbow and lakers, in this 236-acre lake. Trout are my favorite fish for both open water and ice fishing. When we fish on Birch, we are usually by ourselves. Rarely do we see other people, which is likely due to the difficult access. It feels like we are in a huge basin surrounded by pine trees and a few cabins. It’s near the Boundary Waters. It’s part of the Superior National Forest which is filled with some of the best hiking trails, other pristine lakes, blueberry bushes, beautiful lupines in the summer and amazing wildlife. Birch Lake is also located at the Laurentian Divide, which means part of the water flows north to Hudson Bay and the other part flows east into the Saint Lawrence Watershed. Mind boggling, right?

I augered through the ice and collected around three ounces of water from Birch Lake. The Minnesota Wild says three ounces is all you need. My next step was to bring it back to the Xcel Energy Center to add my water at the collection station. But it’s about the journey, as well as the destination.

rainbow trout on birch lake minnesota

THE JOURNEY FROM BIRCH LAKE TO ST. PAUL

The journey from Birch Lake to St. Paul is more than 300 miles, and we made sure to stop at some of the best roadside stops along the way. It almost felt like we were giving our water a final tour of Minnesota before settling it into its new home with the Wild. Here’s a visual map to give you an idea of our route:

  1. Birch Lake and Laurentian Divide
  2. Temperance River
  3. Split Rock Lighthouse
  4. Canal Park
  5. Moose statue in Moose Lake
  6. Moose Lake State Park
  7. Banning State Park
  8. Tobies Restaurant & Bakery
  9. World’s Largest Walleye
  10. Rush Lake
  11. Xcel Energy Center

Note: The entire journey took a couple of days. It was an awesome experience to intentionally take time to hit all the stops. I held onto my jar of water until March 14, when the Minnesota Wild hosted the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center.

MY JAR OF WATER IS NOW PART OF #OurIce

Donning my Wild gear, I brought my three-ounce jar of Birch Lake water to a collection station just outside Gate 1. I dumped the water into the collection bowl, took some photos and video and used the hashtag #OurIce to share more about my water collection on social media. The water I contributed was filtered and added to the ice by the Zamboni during the game.

I filled out an iPad form next to the collection area with details on me, my water source and why I chose Birch Lake to be a part of the 10,000 Lakes Challenge.

I filled out an iPad form next to the collection area with details on me, my water source and why I chose Birch Lake to be a part of the 10,000 Lakes Challenge. You can now go to the Wild’s “This is Our Ice” 10,000 Lakes Challenge webpage, scroll down the 2018-19 water source map and find the marker on Birch Lake (north of Grand Marais) with my name on it!

It was pretty amazing to see my little jar of Birch Lake get added to our team’s ice, aka #OurIce. The whole idea is very Minnesotan to me. It’s about unity in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, in the State of Hockey, and not only solidifying the water literally to the ice, but also the act of solidarity among fans from all across the state and beyond. The Wild puts it best: “We promise to defend it with our sticks and our courage. Celebrate it in our pursuit of excellence. And honor it with our greatest efforts.”

JOIN THE THIS IS OUR ICE TRADITION

It’s not too late to join the This Is Our Ice tradition. Grab a jar or a small Tupperware container, collect water that means something special to you, and bring it to the next Wild home game at Xcel Energy Center. Can’t make it to the game? Send them your water! Learn more at wild.com/OurIce.

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