How a Bemidji man got stuck on a lake in a blizzard

How is it that with a storm coming, so many people got stranded on some of Minnesota’s biggest lakes in a blizzard last weekend?

Allen Foster, of Bemidji, Minn., tells the Bemidji Pioneer that he was so excited to get out fishing on Lake of the Woods after getting off work that he never checked the weather.

“Of course, the guy (at the resort) never said a word about any storms or anything, and I wasn’t paying any attention,” Foster, of Bemidji said. “I drive truck over the road so I was concentrating on the truck. Literally, I got home from over the road, I hooked up my (Ice) Castle, met my buddy and we took off.”

The first few days were great, he says. They were catching fish and living a good life on the lake. And there wasn’t much snow.

Then the generator ran out of gas and he stepped outside.

“It was blowing like crazy,” he recalls. “My neighbor, who was roughly 60 yards from me, had his outdoor lights on all the way around his Ice Castle, and those were all lit up when I went to sleep.

“I couldn’t even see them, it was blowing so hard.”

The men, who had planned to return to Bemidji on Sunday night, decided to cut the trip short and head back to shore at first light, Foster recalls. The road by that time had drifted shut, and they didn’t make it more than a quarter of a mile.

“I started plowing through a bunch of drifts, which was starting to slow me down, and then I hit one big drift that came about midway up the grill of my pickup,” Foster said. “That slowed me down pretty good, and then all of a sudden, the pickup just dropped, and I dropped down almost a foot and a half in slush.”

The weight of the snow was pushing the ice down into the water.

UPDATE: I am dug out and pulled to the main road now. Half the battle is over. Now its torching and thawing out my…

Posted by Allen Foster on Sunday, February 24, 2019

They were still 20 miles from shore. Cell service was marginal but he was able to call the resort. Everyone was calling.

The slush was up to his knees and by early Monday morning he was starting to panic when he saw plows heading his way. By Monday afternoon, he was back on dry ground with an education.

“I would go back to Lake of the Woods, but like I said, I’ve got quite a checklist,” Foster said. “I know what to expect and what to plan for now.”

He says he still had fun.