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In subzero cold, Hermantown teen still keeping cozy sleeping in his backyard

Despite temperatures in Duluth as low as 21 below zero, Rudy Hummel is sleeping just fine in his snow house every night. Hummel, 17, is the Hermantown youth who has been sleeping outside, mostly in his backyard, every night since June 7. He's sho...

Rudy Hummel
Rudy Hummel, 17, of Hermantown uses a pipe to make air holes while preparing to sleep in the snow-cave "quinzhee" in his yard on Dec. 18. Hummel plans to sleep outside every night for a year. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Despite temperatures in Duluth as low as 21 below zero, Rudy Hummel is sleeping just fine in his snow house every night.

Hummel, 17, is the Hermantown youth who has been sleeping outside, mostly in his backyard, every night since June 7. He's shooting for a year of nights outside. He remains optimistic about achieving his goal.

"Still determined," he said in a phone conversation Friday.

Temperatures in Duluth are predicted to possibly reach more than 30 below tonight into early Monday.

"I'm going to have to figure something out for (tonight)," Hummel said. "Maybe a hot-water bottle in my sleeping bag or candles in the quinzhee (snow house)."

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Snow houses, with thick walls of snow, typically provide good insulation and keep the temperature higher than the air outside. Hummel pulls a bale of straw into the opening of the snow house each night to keep the drafts away.

Hummel had been wearing four warm shirts and three layers on his legs each night, but since the weather has turned colder, he has added a hooded fleece top and another wool blanket atop his sleeping bags. He sleeps in four sleeping bags with three blankets on top. Beneath him, atop the snow shelf he sleeps on, are two foam pads, 3 inches of straw, a Therma-Rest sleeping pad, a thick foam pad and an empty sleeping bag.

Since the News Tribune first reported on Hummel's sleep quest on Dec. 22, he has received plenty of feedback from fellow students and some teachers.

"Some commend me. Some tell me I'm crazy," Hummel said. "Most of the people who have told me I'm crazy have also commended me."

Life is quiet in the snow house, Hummel said. But one night, he heard footsteps outside.

"I had a rabbit run over the top of the quinzhee," he said. "The footsteps were pretty loud. I thought one of my parents was coming out to check on me, and I found rabbit tracks the next morning."

His story has been picked up by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press and has appeared in newspapers as far away as the United Kingdom, said his mother, Gail Johnejack.

As of Friday, Hummel had spent 209 nights in his snow house or, before that, an elevated platform in a tree.

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He plans to start a blog to post occasional updates about his nights outdoors. The blog will be at snoreoutdoors.blogspot.com.

Related Topics: HERMANTOWNWEATHER
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