The coldest I’ve ever been was on the first day of our dogsled trip to the North Pole — March 7, 1986. The street temp, so to speak, was 72 below zero. Not wind chill, straight up. But I’m perfectly at home in that. The North, from Minneapolis up to the Arctic Circle, that’s my backyard. My culture. I’m married to the North.
At 13, I traded my hockey skates for a stack of National Geographic magazines, and that gave me the images and stories I needed to wrap my dreams around. I got a map and started exploring.
After a couple years teaching for Outward Bound, I started my own winter school, teaching dogsledding and skiing. I spent 12 winters living outside, from mid-December to around April 1, on the border lakes. I’d come in for the holidays and a few weekends, but essentially lived in the woods with fire.
I’ve since traveled across both poles, tens of thousand of miles. And every year I still take a one-month solo trip in the wilderness at the end of winter. I need that time in the wilderness. I get out of my head, everything becomes clear. It’s regeneration. It’s almost a matter of survival for me. Minnesotans understand this.