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Forum News Service, Published January 05 2014

Minnesota teen still sleeping outside

DULUTH, Minn. – 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 by phone Friday.

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

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 Hummel’s sleep quest was first reported 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.”

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