Every winter between Christmas and the new year, my sisters and I go camping. (You know, typical family trip.)
We buy food from the local grocery store, argue about which tent to bring, and spend a night begrudgingly looking over maps. Despite little fanfare, it’s a tradition I love as much as either holiday it’s sandwiched between.
The caveat is that we grew up in northern Minnesota, where frostbite can happen in less than fives minutes. The most popular winter activities in our hometown are ice fishing, hockey, and snowmobiling (loosely in that order). Wearing layers is a skill you learn at birth. With snow on the ground for over half the year, you are forced to enjoy winter, or move somewhere else.
And one of our recent holiday trips was no different. We donned our trusty long underwear, took our favorite cross country skis out of storage, and stuffed sugary snacks into every pocket we could find. Our goal was to ski across the Boundary Waters, from Ely to Grand Marais, along a string of frozen lakes called the Border Chain. The only traces of other humans we saw were a pair of snowshoe tracks, a dog sled team, and two gentlemen heading out on an ice fishing trip.
When our mom dropped us off at the trailhead the car thermometer read -20 degrees Fahrenheit. She gave us each a hug, reminded us that we were objectively crazy, and returned to the heated seats of the Subaru. For the next two days my sisters and I skied across the wilderness, using the skills we’ve developed over many years to stay dry, happy, and safe.
For newcomers to the joys of winter camping, here are the key things to consider before you take off.