For Tim Rodgers, Christmas isn't just a day for opening presents followed by hours of sleeping on the couch. No, for Rodgers December 25 marks the day of a tradition that he hopes to continue for many years.
In 2009, friends Jeff Leonard and Josh Tellman joined Rodgers and his son Jeremy for a night of winter camping.
"It started because we realized we don't really do anything on Christmas Day after we open presents," explained Rodgers, "so we decided to go out camping."
Jeff Leonard (left) and Jeremy Rodgers gaze at the scenery Heart’s Content had to offer Christmas afternoon. Tim Rodgers (not pictured) has taken his son camping on Christmas Day each year since 2009, accompanied by Leonard, in lieu of the usual holiday laziness.
That year Jeremy, now 19, was home visiting and Rodgers thought it'd be a great idea to head to Heart's Content for the night.
"After presents, we found ourselves in the woods by noon," Tim recalled. "The past few years, the weather has cooperated, but that first year (the temperature) was in the teens," he laughed. "It was pretty chilly at night, but we weren't going to let the weather stop us."
Foraging for firewood, building a warm fire, and preparing food are among the first items on the agenda for the winter warriors. Hot dogs, freeze-dried meals, and other easy to carry items typically make up the menu, according to Rodgers. For the adults, a bottle of pumpkin-flavored beer caps off the event that they look forward to for months ahead of time.
"It's a way to get rid of the winter 'blahs.' We get to go out and enjoy something we love doing," Tim added. Rodgers is an avid backpacker who, for the last 10-12 years, has tried to get out at least once a week, always accompanied by Leonard. In addition, the two can often be found late-night snowshoeing from 6 p.m. until as late as 11 at night.
One of Tim's favorite memories occurred the first year they went out. "My son decided he was going to wear a pair of steel-toed boots - something he quickly learned was a bad idea," he laughed. "He was constantly huddled by the fire, trying to keep his feet warm."
Since 2009, the four have gone out every year with the exception of this past Christmas. "Josh moved away and didn't get a chance to make it back this year," said Rodgers, "so it was just the three of us." His message to Josh: "You missed a good time, buddy."