Winter Camping Timeline

A week ago Will and I had our sixth winter camping adventure together.  We’ve had all sorts of experiences out there.  Warm years, wet years, hard years, easy years… It’s always interesting.  This year we took Annalesa and I’m working on telling that story.  In the meanwhile…

There are two types of people when I share that I winter camp:

Some people are immediately horrified by the concept.  They recoil when I tell them as if I was sharing that for my vacation I was going to be suspended on cliff edge in a tank of snakes and spiders while publicly speaking naked.  Not only can they not imagine wanting to do something like winter camp, they don’t even want to hear about it.


Some people are intrigued and drawn to the idea.  These are the people I’m nervous will get inspired and head out there unprepared and end up in Type 3 fun (where someone dies, or close to it.)  They ask what it’s like and how things work and I often struggle to explain how much work it is.

Perhaps a timeline of a typical day would help.

I always have to pee in the middle of the night.  It’s extra hard if it’s -30º out there.  I got mentally prepared, and then found and put on my liner gloves (so not to get contact frost bite from touching things outside my sleeping bag) I unzipped both zippers of my sleeping bag, slid out of my liner bag, pulled out my big puffy jacket and put it on, swiveled around and slid my boots on, wobbled over to my pee spot, undid my fleece onesie, peed.  Then reversed the whole process, pausing only to reinflate my therm-a-rest.  Back in my bag I released one of my two hot water bottles (Nalgeens that were filled with boiling hot water right before bedtime) from their fully encapsulating koozies.  Ahhhhh.  So warm and cozy!  I fell back to sleep.

I woke up because I’d been sleeping for over eight hours.  But was still dark.  My hot water bottles are no longer hot.  I ate one of my two fun sized snicker bars kept in my breast pocket.  I knew my sleep systems were beginning to get cold because the candy bar is kinda firm and not squishy and melty.  I did toe crunches and full body crunches.  Or I might have started crying first before Will re-inflated my Therm-a-rest and told me to eat my snickers and do the crunches.  Then Annalesa and Will laugh that I reported “2 sets of 100 toe crunches” Either way I was rewarmed. Then we all drifted back asleep.

Awake, again.  But it was still close to -20ºF and Will said we had to wait until the sun hit our campsite to get up.  Grrrrr.  I ate my other snickers.  Did another set of crunches.  Watched frost form from my breath in the low light of morning.  Closed my eyes for a while.

The sun hit the tarp, the temperature started to rise.  After 10 hours in our sleeping bags it was time to get up!  First I found all the things I kept warm in my bag:  liner gloves, chopper mittens, socks, big puffy jacket.  Then as quickly as I could bear it (which is all too often not very quick) I put my Nalgeens back in their koozies, put on my liner gloves, got out of my sleep system, put on my over pants, put on puffy jacket, put on my anorak, put on my VBs (vapor barrier, a plastic bag for feet that is critical) put on my wool socks, put on my boots.  Stumbled out of the tarp, while brining out the z-rests for sitting on and my day pack of personal items.  Immediately started on drinking and finishing the Nalgene that is still warm from being in the sleeping bag with me.

These were the morning tasks:IMG_7311

  1.  Start and maintain the fire.   (Will already did this while I was still getting my shit together).
  2. Get out the breakfast stuff.  Start frying over the fire the frozen breakfast foods.  These would be the precooked breakfast sausages and breakfast pastries.  This year was toaster pastries filled with egg, cheese, and bacon.  Also portion out the granola and coffee
  3. Re-open the ice hole, get water, start boiling water over the fire. (This gets repeated)
  4. Use fire to dry things that got damp with breath frost overnight.
  5. With boiling water from the fire – pour over granola and coffee.
  6. Start filling up all the bottles with the boiling water for the day.  (96oz per-person)
  7. Hopefully, after coffee, go poop.
  8. Warm up by fire after pooping and using hand sanitizer.
  9. Brush teeth and do other self care tasks.
  10. Put trail lunch in daily portion ziplock bags to go in pockets to be snacked on throughout the day.


Now, assuming it was a day to move sites… it would be time to break camp.  Much of this looks like any other camping trip.  But it takes three times as long.  The zillion little easy tasks of packing up the kitchen or packing up the bedroom are now extra hard because I’d be trying to keep my hands warm.  Which could mean I’d be wearing my chopper mittens which are super comical to do things with dexterity.  Or I’d be wearing my liner gloves which then sometimes get stuck in things.  Or I’d risked it and gone bare.  And then I’d have to spend time warming up at the fire.  Meanwhile the day was warming and even if my hands were getting chilled the rest of me was getting warmer.  So packing up was interrupted by gradually shedding my warmest night time layers for my active day time layers.

Pulks were finally loaded and tied down.  We scanned to make sure nothing was left behind.  We took a final look at the map and planned route, keeping wind direction in mind.  Strapped on skis (and snowshoes) and we were off!

Very slowly.  As to not work up a sweat.

OMG.  I’m exhausted just from describing the morning.  But I swear, it’s fun!  In a special kind of way.

Next week, the rest of the day.



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Zest Ed Launched!

Holy mackerel!  We did it.

24 days ago there were 15 days to our Launch Party.  It was years in the making.  And it actually happened!  I got enough done.

It’s no where near our long term dreams, but it’s what we can do now and we’ll take it from here.  It was wonderful to celebrate this milestone with some of the wonderful people who support us.  
Because we’re an education business that’s more about doing than lecturing; we made people do an activity where the end result was a dramatic reading of an original quote about community.


“Be known, be grown, be challenged, find balance.”
“Communities are the duct tape of society.”
“The camaraderie of the hood grows with challenges.”
“We are best supported by those who challenge us.”

After sharing about Zest Ed and what we’re doing we capped off our kick off at the bar.


After the rest of the weekend to recover from the launch I’ve gotten back to work.

This lovely blog got some much needed updates.  I’ve rewritten the About Me page and turned it into About Kym and Will.  And I’ve added a brand new category – Enterprise.  This is where my stories about this new life venture will go.  I’ve moved the last post Things Not Done there.

And of course I’ve updated the project board.  It’s already a week old and it no longer looks quite like this anymore.  Some things have been done, although more things have been added.  Still, I’ve never been so encouraged by things not done.


Curious about what Zest Ed is and what we do?  Check out the beautiful website that Will worked so hard on.

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Things Not Done – A Story of Progress.

I’m pretty good at getting stuff done.  Most of the time?  Sometimes?  I’m also very good at not doing things.

Two days ago I was feeling quite pleased with the things that were done on my project list.  So pleased that I had to make a new project list.  On a separate daily list I wrote down “make new project list.” Which I did get to check off, even though it meant I didn’t actually get any work done on the project list.

In doing this, I saw two years of photos of my giant whiteboard project lists.  I saw how many things I didn’t do, either at all or on the original timeframe.   Normally this makes me desperately despondent.  I’d be crushed under the impossible weight of undone tasks.  Or I might decide that “None of it really matters. It’s hopeless so why even try?”  Then pretend to be content spending the day in bed.

But not this time!  I am defiant in the face of the zillion things still not done!  Gosh dang it, some things did get done.  There has been progress.

Will and I are starting our own education business!  Our launch party is this January 19th. There will be more announcements and information coming soon.  They’re on the list.

In the meanwhile I thought I’d share the two year story of how we got here with some of the lists of things not done (and some stuff that did).

January 2016, Will and I had both been at our jobs for over 5 years and we were not happy.  Things had not panned out the way we had planned.  We needed to turn the ship around and change course.  I only had the vaguest notion that once upon a time, I had my own program coaching youth and it was awesome.  I wanted to do it again.  Only better.

April 2016
Will got me a giant whiteboard for my birthday.  Nothing says “I love you” like quality office supplies.

At that time I didn’t know what I didn’t know about business.  I was simply trying to find out what there was to learn and do. img_1266-1

May 2016
Nine things on this whiteboard never happened.
Eight of these things did get done, just one whole year after they were scheduled.


It also got used for other types of planning…
Will and his brother Pete were  sketching mountaineering rope set ups.
My additions were on the right 😉

June, July, August 2016
None of those six projects got done during those months.
None of those ten business names stuck.
None of the six mission statements stuck.
I did make the last three payments from my ER visit from 2015.
All five of the value words have stuck.
One out of eight taglines stuck.

September, October, November, December 2016
There is no picture of what projects were on the board, but I can be pretty certain they didn’t happen either.  Instead, I dumped all my energy and time into applying for Bush Fellowship, which I didn’t get.
The whiteboard photo was a sketch of a full day youth workshop.
This project also did not get done.  Although it is not forgotten and it will be coming back to the board in February 2018!


January 2017
Something got done!  We have a name.  Zest Ed.  Like phys ed, community ed, special ed… it’s our own brand of  education.   It will revolve around our personal love of athletics and wilderness travel.  As well as our values we came up with in June of craftsmanship, mindfulness, synergy, grit, and play.
We didn’t have a logo for the next year.


February, March, April, May, June 2017
I turned 35 and felt like I’d been stuck spinning my wheels in adulthood for the last 10 years.  Things not done:

  • Having adult professional careers.
  • Having real savings, retirement, or health care.
  • Owning our own home.
  • Starting a family.

I sketched adult athletic education workshops.  We made that happen twice.
I searched for and applied for jobs.  That didn’t work out.
I did go to the intro series of classes at Women Venture.

July, August, September, 2017
Sixteen things still not done. But screw it because, OMG thirteen things did get done! Four more were in progress.  Oh, and I graduated from the Women Venture class.

October, November, December 2017
Fourteen things still not done.  But I was giddy with the ten things that did get done and the four more in progress.

January 2018!
A fresh new board.   A new chance to not get things done, and in that process get shit done.

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Lemon Pepper Pasta

How to write a heartfelt announcement – Step one: Don’t.
Decide to post another “recipe” again.

Step two:  Procrastinate.
Spend two hours reading.  Then spend two hours on flexibility training (aka rolling around on the floor listening to podcasts).  Then spend another couple hours cleaning.  Clean even the things that I’ve procrastinated cleaning (the microwave, the sink drain etc) All good things to do right?

Succumbing to writing another food post is just another reminder that I haven’t written the things I’ve been meaning to write.  Even the fun things about my athletic training haven’t been written.  I blame my overloaded phone which is unable to take any new video of my handstand or dance progress.   That would at least be easer to write about than my career updates.  Which should be super fun to write about but instead is just paralyzing.

So now that I have procrastinated and rationalized, have another food post.

Lemon Pepper Pasta
It was totally delicious, fresh, and exactly what was needed in the midst of cream and sugar and holiday indulgences.

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Broccoli Pesto

It’s that time of year again.  When it’s dark a lot.  Which means unless I go to great effort my food pictures look terrible.  So I present a bit of summer in the winter.  I made this in the bright heat of summer but it’s a great winter meal.  A summery pasta dish made with easy winter vegetables.

Broccoli pesto with roasted cauliflower and little sausages.
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Identities – Part Two

I am half Chinese and half Danish/Scandinavian.   Most of my life I have considered myself to be just 100% Minnesotan.  It was easier to focus on the white part of my heritage and to be “colorblind” even to myself.  Then thirteen months ago it finally hit me  that I was a Woman of Color.

In the last year I have felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

After over a decade of personal bike journey I’m also claiming the identity of Biker.  My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

As a biker I can be doing nothing wrong.  I can be doing everything right.  Yet I must constantly be on alert for my safety.  Sometimes it’s people who actively don’t want bikers in their way.  More often it’s just because I’m invisible to them.  And then there are times when well meaning people end up putting me more at risk.  This is a problem on both an individual and systemic level.

A driver can do the entirely wrong thing, nearly kill me, and then be so angry at me as if I should apologize.  First they threatened me with their car.  Then I’m threatened by their anger.  Sometimes it’s because they actually hate bikers or are just hateful in general.  More often it’s because they were startled-scared and their reaction was self-righteous defense.

I’m not going to stop biking on streets.  But it would be nice to feel safer.  It might never be 100% safe (nothing is) but it would be nice to feel more secure in my right to the space.  It would be nice if the system didn’t feel set up against me (and it’s so much bigger than bike lanes).

Everyone has an opinion.   Not all bikers have the same experiences or are the same kind of biker.  Many people never or rarely bike and defend car-centric rights and use of space.  Many bikers want different things to make their experiences better.  But all the bikers I’ve met can be thankful to live here because it could be worse and believe it could be better.

Now read this again.  Replace biker with Person of Color and driver or car with white privilege.   I think this is what many have been saying about their experience as a Person of Color.

Maybe there is part of your identity that might help you better see the experience of others.  This was mine.

(Identities Part One is where I discovered that I’m Asian) 

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Identities – Part One

In this last year there are two identities that I’ve learned to claim.   Biker, and Woman of Color.

I don’t just bike.  I am a Biker.  It doesn’t matter what kind of bike, or how fast I am, or how far I bike.  Just as you don’t have to have done a marathon to be a Runner.  You don’t have to have art in a museum to be an Artist.  You don’t have to ovulate to be a Woman.  I can claim the identity of a Biker just because it’s one of the many things that I am.

I have been aware of my journey as a Biker far longer than I’ve been aware of myself as a POC (Person of Color).  I knew to check the “Asian” box, but it didn’t mean anything to me.  I think I didn’t want it to.  If given the option, I’d check both the “White” and “Asian” boxes because I wanted to feel more white.   It felt easier, less confusing, more comfortable.

Thirteen months ago I had an epiphany.   For the zillionth time in my life I had been referred to as a “Person of Color” and for the first time in my 34 years my brain said:

“HOLY SHIT.  That means ME.”  I saw this cartoon lightbulb pop up over me.
“I AM A WOMAN OF COLOR.  fuck.  this is news to me.  I HAD NO IDEA.”

Weird right?  I told my husband.
He said “I know.”
In my head “You knew?”  How did you know?  Who told you?”

I’ve been telling friends as if I’m coming out of the gay closet and the response I get is,
“Yeah.  I knew.  Of course you’re Asian.”
“Well I didn’t know.”

I still had to figure out what to do with this information.

In my heart I felt that because I didn’t have a “black” experience or hadn’t felt deeply oppressed or that I felt privileged that I wasn’t POC enough.

It took time, and conversations, and education.   I came to understand that I can have both negative and positive experiences associated with my mixed race.  I came to understand that there is both pride and shame in the history of every culture.  No individual or culture is 100% perfect or evil.  There have always been angels amidst atrocities.  Perpetrators of atrocities usually love someone or something.

And so I do not have to feel 100% about anything.  I can have felt the effect of bias or racism for myself or ancestors and still own my privilege.  I do not have to be full of pride or full of shame.  Discovering the injustices done to Asian Americans doesn’t have to compare to the injustices done to anyone else.  It is not a competition.  Owning the terrible things done by my white heritage doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Scandinavian or American traditions.

I’ve felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

Next week, Identities – Part Two


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