I always look forward to the annual Freeze Your Butt Off meetup with our Corn Desert group. It is a terrific time to unwind, laugh a lot and brave the cold together. On warmer outings, I tend to try and do too many things. One of the perks of FYBO is that a lot of the time is spent hunkering down and staying warm around the fire. It’s often the most relaxing vacation I ever get.
The fun times began right away this year. The park service had cut down a lot of troublesome trees and left them for us to use as firewood. The guys got out their burly man axes and made short work of the wood we were given, but not before getting in a few jokes.
Kings of the woodpile! Everyone is supposed to bring firewood with them, because we go through a lot of it with the temps being what they are. This year, however, we were resplendent with resources.
We set up our hammocks and prepared for the night ahead. I had really been hoping we would get down into the teens at night because we’ve never tested our gear that low. I would love to be able to incrementally see how low we can get while still being comfortable with our underquilts. The great thing about car camping is that you can bring backup options because weight and space are non-issues. Unfortunately, we only got down to 20 degrees at night, which is the same temp we’d slept in before.
After setup, it was time to socialize around the fire. There was plenty of time to catch up with people we hadn’t seen in a while, tell stories and share future plans. There is nothing better than a campfire at night with great friends.
The next morning we were treated to an amazing breakfast in the food tent. (which is kept slightly warmer with the aid of a propane heater) We camp at electric sites, so everyone can bring crock pots to keep food warm. Scott even brought his smoker this time around! There are so many delectable options to choose from throughout the weekend.
After stuffing our bellies, we settle around the fire to talk and make plans for the day. Have I mentioned how relaxing this all is?
Of course, even a winter meetup will involve hiking when you’re with a hiking group – and Kickapoo State Recreation Area doesn’t suffer from a lack of wonderful trails.
Always a good time with this crew. We got to joking this time around that Kris needed his own hashtag – and from that point on, he was #HashtagKris.
The trail we chose to hike had a series of carved faces hidden in the trees. It elevated the hike to a bit of a treasure hunt.
I think they’ve even added new carvings since the last time I had been out there.
We met up with Amy partway into the hike. She wanted to keep going after the group was returning to camp, so we took her to our favorite Out-n-Back trail. All year long it remains a beautiful hike with varied landscape and points of interest.
She always brings her backpack along for trips like this. She says she tries to hike at least once a month with a pack on, so that her muscles don’t forget how to wear one. It’s really good advice that I ought to start heeding myself – but I just can’t quite convince myself to do it just yet. Obviously, I am not as hardcore as she.
In our absence, Kris and the gang had a little fun on their own. I had stowed my jacket in Kris’s pack during the hike as I got warm and forgot about it when we parted ways. You can see the danger of that. 😉
By the time we’d finished, we’d hiked a good 10 miles, which was a lot more than we had anticipated going in. I was rightfully tired and hungry on our return. Fortunately, Scott had fired up the smoker and prepared ribs for the entire crew. They were soooo good after a day of exertion, and I went to bed full, happy and sore.
We woke up the next morning to several inches of snow on the ground and more still falling. It was incredibly beautiful and just the landscape you want for a winter retreat.
The snow was too much for our campfire canopy however. Fortunately the fire was out before the tarp collapsed. Since it was our day of departure, we just wrapped things up and a new fire was never lit.
Even though we didn’t have a fire, we still had the refuge of the food tent. A final breakfast was a great way to finalize the trip, and before long it was the last thing to take down before departure. It looks so stark and lovely out there on its own.
Kris is a late sleeper, often waking up hours after everyone else. He gets teased about this rather regularly, and this time around a woodpile prank was set up just in front of his tent door. When he popped his head out to greet the day, he said that his groggy brain couldn’t figure out if we had moved his tent to the woodpile, or if we had moved the woodpile to his tent.
Until next year!