This year marked our fourth annual Birthgiving cold camping trip at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin (celebrating Thomas’s birthday as well as Thanksgiving). After a few years of mild weather in the 50’s, our luck finally ran out and we had our coldest trip yet. Daytime highs were in the low 20’s, and overnight on Saturday we reached an all-time camping low of 1 degree. On Sunday morning as we packed up, the car’s thermostat registered at 8 degrees. This year’s group could definitely be considered the Polar Bear Club of camping.
As you can imagine, less drinking was done this year than on past trips (though the weather was a little less brutal on Friday night, enabling us to put a good dent in the apple cinnamon moonshine). After setting down a beer for just a few minutes, it would be slushy with ice crystals by the time you took your next sip. We were at our usual walk-up site atop a hill overlooking the lake, and by midday on Saturday the frigid wind (averaging 30 mph for most of the day) convinced us to move to a site with more tree coverage. One by one, we carried our tents down the path over to the new site. Kurt even carried the fire for us.
While most people thought we were crazy for going through with the trip (and they were probably right), all 8 of us made it through and still had a pretty good. As long as the fire was roaring, we stayed nice and warm (though coats and pants were melted in the process). The Thanksgiving-themed meal on Saturday night was delicious as always. At night, we piled up our sleeping pads, sleeping bags, extra blankets, and layers, and slept pretty soundly. The trip remains one of my favorites, though I wouldn’t mind slightly warmer weather next year. After those few days, a day in the 30’s feels like a sauna in comparison.