The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sandstone Ice Festival X

On Friday after work I drove north to Hinkley MN with my fat bike loaded with winter camping gear. This included my small canvas pyramid and my mini wood burning stove. I've been on a bit of a mission to prove this system's effectiveness at lightweight portability and the ability to keep me warm, so this would be another good test. From Hinkley I took the snow covered Munger Trail 12-13 miles to Robinson Park in Sandstone where the Sandstone Ice Festival was taking place. Although the festival is primarily about ice climbing it also was about winter camping and other winter activities, so I thought the fat-bike/hot tent would fit right in. My wife and kids couldn't go to the fest until Saturday anyway so it worked perfect for me to get a night out in the tent.    
Home Sweet Home

Yeah it's hot 

 You would think that it would be somewhat cold in mid December in northern Minnesota this time of year but it was very mild and didn't drop below freezing the entire time I was there. After arriving at Robinson Park I set up my tent and got my things situated before walking over to a nearby group huddled around a camp fire. I chatted with some people, shared some of my food and hung out until about 10 pm when I finally called it a night. I got a fire going in the tent and dried some gear mostly to justify bringing the extra weight. It was nice getting really warm before going to sleep.

Snowball fight 
 The next morning I awoke to warm temps and a hazy fog that would last the whole day. This would actually be a blessing, the ice was still good to climb and my wife and boys would not have to freeze their butts off while we all enjoyed a large portion of the day outside. Lynn signed up for the women's climbing clinic, and arrived about a half hour before the start time of 10am. While Lynn did her thing the boys and I had a snowball fight, drank hot chocolate and cider, talked with climbers and vendors, and explored the park. They quickly took to the remnant stacks of quarried stone that remained in the park from who knows how long ago. This occupied them for good portion of the day as they used the high ground for better snowball attacks from above and the many cave like pockets to avoid detection and dodge heavy fire from yours truly. By mid-day the boys were soaking wet and Lynn was done with her clinic. The boys retreated to the van for some snacks and heat.

Super mom

Women's clinic in action

The scene....hazy 

Although I brought all of my ice climbing gear I was not sure if I would be able to get any climbing in. There were lots of people and ropes hanging from every good line, the clinics taking up most of the really good, fat stuff. I brought a rope and all the gear to set something but didn't really have the time to break away from the boys. Without setting up my own line and sharing, I feel like a chump asking to get on someone else's rope. Alas, there was a short break in between the morning and afternoon clinics when I was able to seize an opportunity to do two routes.

Warm enough for shorts 

.I haven't climbed much in the last several years and have done even less ice but it sure felt good to get after it. Even better was getting G Man on the wall. Lynn's boots fit him and the axes don't have a size accept that mine are out-dated and are a bit long and heavy for him. I didn't think he would get all the way up but I wanted him to at least try it out, he made it about fifteen feet and was done, right as the climbers from the afternoon clinic moved in. Shortly after the climbing we packed up and grabbed a bite to eat at the local cafe. I  got a ride back to my van and returned to gather my camping gear and bike.

I had a fantastic time camping out, meeting some great people, and spending time with my family....we look forward to it next year.    Thank You  Sandstone Ice Festival X

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