The cold snap being felt throughout the Midwest is brutal. Here in the Keweenaw Peninsula we are ‘lucky’ to be buffered by Lake Superior, and our coldest temps this week are in the teens below zero, much preferred to 30 or 40 below, as our inland neighbors are experiencing. But being surrounded by Lake Superior also brings a lot of snow, and the combination of cold, wind, and snow makes playing outside not for the faint of heart. The afternoon of January 29, the closure notices starting rolling in and among them included notices that the big university in our town was going to be closed. Which meant the gym, pool, indoor track, and all ski trails would be closed. My office was closed as well. My boyfriend, Evan, and I mocked the closures. He’s lived in Fairbanks where they get real cold, and I’m no stranger to bundling up and getting out either.
But the hype of late has been making me feel a bit weak. Last Sunday we had a high temp of about -5 and the weatherman made me think I would die if I exercised outside. So I obeyed, skipped a group backcountry ski happening just down the block, and instead drove to they gym and went nowhere on an elliptical. At the co-op on my way home I ran into an old friend who had just spent the weekend downhill skiing up north in the winter wonderland. And later talked to a coworker who had joined in the epic backcountry ski that kept going as the sun set. So I was feeling like a chump. A big, wussy chump.
What to do? Bundle up and get out there! Monday morning I was up at 5:30, the temperature was -7, and I was ready. It was gorgeous outside. Crunchy snow, no spikes needed.
Tuesday morning was a heat wave, 2 degrees above zero and I was bit overdressed, but the snowmobile trail was packed down and perfect.
Wednesday was the big snow day and I hemmed and hawed for a while. Maybe a ski would be better, but nobody was grooming. Visibility was poor, which was why everything was closed. Was it even safe to be out? Finally after lunch, I committed to an afternoon run around the neighborhood, avoiding roads with a lot of traffic and/or minimal shoulders. Given the wind chill I bundled up more than the previous couple of days and went for it. And I survived!
What I wore, from top to bottom:
- mid-weight knit cap
- Blackstrap Balaclava (so many fun colors!)
- Mountain Logic (now Bight Gear) Alpha Ascender Hoody Jacket
- Under armor midweight baselayer top
- Mountain Hardwear windproof shell mitt and fleece mittens
- Patagonia lightweight baselayer bottoms
- Smartwool knee-high wool ski socks
- Athleta winter running tights
- Altra Lone Peak Polartec Neoshell Shoes
- Kahtoola Nanospikes
- (I should have also worn a high visibility vest, but didn’t)
Also of note, I’m not crazy. I wouldn’t stay out for more than 2 hours dressed like this bc I do heat up, sweat, and then get chilled with the winds. Not sure how I would dress for a longer duration run. As temps warm up I’ll start to lose layers and swap out jackets, hats, and gloves. Anything over 10 degrees probably does not require a full face mask (balaclava). And if you are lucky enough to be a fully bearded male (or female!) the face mask may also be optional.