There's no such thing as Bad Weather

... only bad clothing.

This little motto that we've adopted for the month of January was put to the test this past weekend when we ventured out to Big Woods State Park in Nerstrand, Minn. to partake in the annual candlelight cross-country ski event. In negative 20 degree temperature, it is quite a challenge to prove our motto true. Here was our attempt to defy the "bad weather" that night:

Despite the cold that practically paralyzed my fingers for the first twenty minutes of our trip, Evan and I set out optimistically under a canopy of stars. Just outside the small college town of Northfield (where E and I attended St. Olaf College) lies Big Woods State Park. It is known for it's wooded trails, waterfall, vibrant fall foliage, camping sites, and ... candlelight ski event. But the anticipated cold scared away many of the regular candlelight participants, and we happened upon only one fellow xc-skier on the 1.5 mile stretch of trail. He approached us so silently, if it weren't for his headlamp we wouldn't have known he was coming. Like a mythic being so practiced in the art, he sailed silently by as if the snow itself was pulling him along. He gave a gentle nod and a cheery hello, then was gone, just as quickly as he came.

Although the luminaries remained flickering along the side of the trail, the further we got into the woods, the fewer luminaries we met and the darker it became. But I was actually thankful we didn't bring our headlamp along, for without it we were really able to enjoy the sky. I desperately wanted to pull my camera from my pocket to document the scene, or better yet, set up my SLR camera on a tripod (which I had left at home). But when it's negative 20 degrees outside, you don't expose your fingers to the cold, even for the sake of art. So I surpassed my urge and took a mental image instead of Evan pushing forward under a fortress of twisted trees that loomed over us with windows to the stars. I love how the world is contrastive under a blanket of snow; everything is either light or dark. There is no gray area, everything is clear cut and extreme. ... not to mention the extreme temperatures.

(the above photos were not taken that night, but the top and bottom right demonstrate the contrast I'm talking about, and the other is from a xc-ski outing on my birthday this year)

One of the best things about subjecting yourself to an outdoor adventure in such frigid temperatures? Going out for pizza afterwards! Basil's pizza was a college favorite and an automatic "must" whenever we're in town again. My sister and her boyfriend (who attend St. Olaf) met us there, along with Evan's mom and friends (who were snow-shoeing at Big Woods) and their husbands. What a perfect end to a freeezing wonderful night!

And by the way, I wasn't joking when I said we made this our motto:

This homemade calendar is hanging in our kitchen right now to remind us to be optimistic this winter. Want to make your own calendar? It's super cheap (just printer ink and basic white cardstock paper from a craft store - I went to Michaels). I think my calendar cost $6 total. Not too bad for something unique and personalized! I have a quote or line from a song for each of my months of the year, but you could do whatever you want.

If you want to make your own, check out this website.
Go here to see more xc-ski events throughout Minnesota!

Stay warm!


  1. I had a great time:)

  2. I want to go skiing!!! I remember being out in -20 last winter except I was teaching our high ropes course! The poor kids had freeeezing hands and I had to demand that they don't take off their gloves when they switch carabiners.....C do you remember...'May I switch my first carabiner? May I switch my second?" haha

  3. I miss the ropes course! And the zip line! Yea I think I remember the day you did that in the freezing cold. How are your mukluks this year? Do you do the whole "on belay? belay is on. climbing. climb away" with your kids in CA or is there some other new lingo?


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