Frozen Day 18: A Horror-ific Chill

Temperature: -11 degrees Celsius (After work) and -16.2 (Evening)

Feels Like: -16 degrees Celsius and -21

Wind: NE 8 km/hr and NNE 17 km/hr

In the middle of the night, I woke with shivers. The cold had curled right around my bones, like a snake, and squeezed the warmth wholly out of them. It’s not that it was particularly cold outside today, rather it was that I spent 4 hours out there.

It had actually felt quite warm and I had to remove my mittens during the after-work walk; however, not long after that I spent a nice chunk of time in the ice castle. Though the weather had seemed like something to scoff at, it wasn’t long before my toes were too cold to gain any warmth just by curling them. The event at the snow castle was the film festival Dead North and so I couldn’t count on dancing to keep me warm. By the end of the evening there was a deep chill in my body, though that may have partly been due to the fact that I had just watched a series of really fantastic horror shorts. (All of the films were created by northerners in a 9 week span and the results were amazing, so I simply had to plug that. You can check out most of the films here.)

Each time I attend an event at the snow castle, it’s incredibly fun and it really helps me get those outdoor hours in. The thing that keeps nagging at me is that I’m having too much fun. I had originally wrote that this is an office worker’s challenge to make outdoor time and in that I am succeeding; however, I also wrote that I hoped to give people a window of perspective to look into so that they could consider how different all this time outside is for the homeless.

People with no homes and no money aren’t spending their time dancing in the snow castle or taking long introspective walks or being entertained. So, this is where I diverge from what I had originally hoped to show. Although I had never intended to try to portray what time on the streets for the homeless is like, I had wanted to use my experience to plant the seeds of reflection in your mind on what that experience might be like. Of this, I’m not confident that I am succeeding. During my long solo walks – perhaps, but when I am playing outside – I’m not so sure.

With that in mind, I’d like to leave you with one final thought for today. After just 4 hours outside, I couldn’t warm up most of the night. My skin was cold and I had to wear heavier clothing to sleep. Sure, if I had spent more of that time moving, it wouldn’t have given me such a deep chill, but that still doesn’t detract from the point: those on the streets spend much more time out there every day and they’re not keeping their bodies moving the entire time either.

Time: 5:10P – 6:32P and 7:47P – 10:28P

Today’s Minutes: 243

Total Challenge Minutes: 2175/3720

Ahead/Behind: +15

Frozen Days 16-17: The Lonely Bench

Temperature: -18.9 degrees Celsius (16th) and -15.9 (17th)

Feels Like: -27 degrees Celsius (16th) and -25 (17th)

Wind: WNW 13 km/hr (16th) ENE 17 km/hr (17th)

It’s midday and there’s no one around. Great puffs of hardened snow are piled up around me as I sit on one of the few accessible benches in the city. It was quite the find alright – especially since almost all of the other benches scattered throughout the city have been overtaken by piles of snow. The wind tears across my face, but I bear the sting because I have nowhere else to go. I feel out of place because I am loitering. There is nothing to watch – no birds in the sky or water lapping at the shoreline or people playing in the park. I imagine the people in the buildings of downtown looking out the window and thinking there is something odd about the person who is just sitting there, still and purposeless. I imagine they can tell that I’m not waiting for anyone, that I am alone, and that I have nowhere to be and nothing to do but let the time pass. Which it does. I eventually stand up and walk away having done nothing but scratch my mitts against an asteroid-shaped chunk of snow. The cold has seeped past my protective layer of clothing and I am chilled. My face is a mottled burgundy. But as I leave, I place that chunk of snow on the bench. Although imperfect and rough around the edges, it is shaped like a heart. Perhaps, for someone who finds themselves at The Lonely Bench, that is something after all.

Time: 2:32P – 3:46 (16th) 12:45P – 2:06P (17th)

Today’s Minutes: 74 + 81 = 155

Total Challenge Minutes: 1932/3720

Ahead/Behind: -108

Frozen Days 13-15: Dancing the Time Away

Temperature: -10.3 degrees Celsius (13th) -18.2 (14th) and -27.2 (15th)

Feels Like: -17 degrees Celsius (13th) -32 (14th) and -39 (15th)

Wind: SE 16 km/hr (13th) NNW 41 km/hr (14th) and NW 17 km/hr (15th)

Snow Castle

The Snow Castle on Yellowknife Bay

Those sneaky winds have been laying low all March, but this weekend they finally made their move. What had been forecast as a gloriously marvelous sunny day on Saturday was just simply not to be. Originally it was set to be just one negative degree away from zero, and let’s get real here – that means it’s a flip-flops and shorts kind of day.

Snow Scrulptures

Snow Sculptures

Now, the day itself was full of bright sunshine, but that was just another mean trick Mother Nature played to get my hopes up. Upon stepping outside and away from the protection of the building, those winds instantly berated my poor, tender cheeks and what was once a glimpse of summer’s dawn became the midnight hour of another winter’s night.

Line Up to the Snow Slide

Waiting For A Wild Ride

So thank goodness for the trusty snow castle. I spent Saturday night dancing away to the tunes of Old Town Mondays, Gordie Tentrees and Ryan McNally and his rockabilly band. The castle walls kept that wind at bay and all the tunes kept my body grooving so I’m going to say that I managed to put one over on the spiteful side of Mother Nature. She can’t help it, you know. We all take a turn for the worse after a long winter.

Going down the snow slide

Away She Goes!

So here’s to another day and the coming spring! Unfortunately, that is also known as second winter.

Snow Castle

View From the Top

I also got to take in the delicious Sugar Shack Brunch put on by L’Association de Franco-culturelle on Sunday morning.


Time: 1:00P – 1:37P (13th) 9:16P -12:28A (14th) and 9:48A – 11:03A (15th)

Today’s Minutes: 37 + 192 + 75 = 304

Total Challenge Minutes: 1777/3720

Ahead/Behind: -23

Frozen Day 12: Let’s Talk Mileage

Temperature: -16.3 degrees Celsius

Feels Like: -24 degrees Celsius

Wind: ESE 12 km/hr

Fueled by pizza and beer, this self-propelling machine has been racking up the miles.

Let me break it down for you a bit. Almost all of my outdoor time is spent walking. So I did some google mapping and got an idea of how far my average walks have been and then compared that with the time I spent covering the distance. I’m absolutely average. I walk about 5 kilometers in an hour, so each day I’m putting in about 10 kilometers. Each day. That’s 70 kilometers in a week.

I’m all about accurate representation so I would have to say it’s probably closer to 60 or 65 since I’m not always walking. There’s music concerts and pond hockey and bench reflections and so on as well. Now, my companion is training for a marathon that’s coming up in April and has been hitting the treadmill hard. But I still clock more kilometers in a week.

It was an interesting thing to realize, but is in no way as remotely awesome as running a marathon or training for one. So I’m going to leave it at that: just one interesting fact for the day.

Time: 12:34 pm – 1:21 pm and 5:04 pm – 6:31 pm

Today’s Minutes: 133

Total Challenge Minutes: 1473/3720

Ahead/Behind: +33 minutes

Frozen Day 11: The Music of Great Slave Lake

Temperature: -23 degrees Celsius

Feels Like: -31 degrees Celsius

Wind: ENE 10 km/hr

The sound of a rainstorm fills my ears, like when I was young and used to sit next to the open kitchen window while gigantic raindrops pelted our front porch patio after a long, dry spell. A petrichor fragrance almost seems to rise up out of the dull smattering, but then I am back in the moment and the rain isn’t really rain; it’s the sound of a sea of mittens clapping, trying to draw Terje Isungset out onto the snow castle stage.

The castle is packed wall to wall to wall with people, shifting their weight from foot to foot in an attempt to keep their toes from freezing. Their breath puffs out in long, excited streams of frozen air and then, after a long wait, we are all rewarded. The musician steps onto the stage and begins to play the ice of Great Slave Lake. 

Simple notes ring out as he drums his hands and fingers along large pieces of ice and I can feel that simplicity more than anything. A woman’s voice accompanies the sound and the combination is ethereal, yet beautiful. The castle is silent, but for their sounds and, like the instruments themselves, it takes me away to where there is nothing but nature. He moves around the stage, creating sounds from crushing ice, tapping ice blocks – each releasing their own unique music – and blowing through ice-sculptured horns with frozen lips.

“The instruments belong to you, to Yellowknife, to nature,” he says between songs and when the night comes to an end, he lifts each instrument into the air and passes it to the crowd, giving it back to this place. It’s a remarkable sight to see someone so easily let go of their creation, to accept the transient nature of the tools that give them their life, to fully believe that nature is the true owner of all things.


As I leave to go home, the chill has set in my bones but it feels quite alright. I can’t think of a better way to finally be ahead in the Frozen 31 Challenge than by listening to the frozen whispers of Great Slave Lake ring out amongst a crowd of Yellowknifers between the snow castle’s walls.

Time: 11:59 am – 1:01 pm and 7:41 pm – 9:45 pm

Today’s Minutes: 186

Total Challenge Minutes: 1340/3720

Ahead/Behind: +20 minutes