The Year With No Summer

Every year has a summer, right? No matter how cold or how warm it may be, there is a period of the year when the hours of daylight reach their maximum point, sweatshirts and jeans find their way to the bottom of your dresser drawer, and suddenly it’s impossible to find parking at the beaches that you have been frequenting yearlong. We all know this time of year – summertime.

I, for better or worse, went through a point in my life where I managed to avoid the summer for about 20 months, nearly two full years. How is that possible? Well, let me explain.

My last summer month before my prolonged winter was August of 2013. In March of 2014 I went to Chile to study abroad for a year, just entering the start of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. While technically I stayed in Chile until the beginning of their summer, I spent my final weeks in Patagonia, braving torrential wind and moody temperature swings, not exactly what you think of as summer. In January of 2015 I jetted back to California, where I would have to wait out another five months to get my first taste of summer in almost two years. Make sense?

The lack of summer became draining and monotonous. I overdosed on rain, fog and cloudy skies. I probably wore pants more days during that stretch than I had in my previous 21 years of life combined. I missed wearing flip flops.

“Men wearing a scarf is not exactly the most fashionable thing in the states…”

Now that said, by no means was it depressing, I simply just had to adapt my highly solar powered lifestyle to one not so reliant on the sun. As far as my extracurricular activities, those remained unchanged. I did a lot of surfing and hiking, just with more warm articles of clothing and neoprene. Having put up with the cold water and weather of surfing winters in Northern California my whole life, I thought I would be fine, but Chile pushed me over the edge. Tired of the relentless brain freezes, I eventually gave in and bought my first hood for surfing. My roommate, Alberto, was nice enough to offer me a true, thick winter jacket, which at first I thought I was never going to wear, but it quickly became my go-to, every day jacket. I wore a beanie almost everyday, to keep my hair out of my face as much as to keep my ears warm, and I caught onto the chilean fashion of wearing a scarf. Men wearing a scarf is not exactly the most fashionable thing in the states, but I tried it once and wondered how I had let my neck be so cold for all of these years. It was amazing. I still rock the scarf on the two days of the year that it gets cold enough to wear one in San Diego.

Evan Quarnstrom wearing a big jacket at the Chilean port of Valparaiso.
My trusty, life-saving jacket that pretty much never came off during the winter months in Chile. Thanks Alberto!

Don’t get me wrong, central Chile is not Alaska. I was not huddled up around a fire in an igloo trying to stay warm every day. There were plenty of intermittently warm days throughout the year, and at least in the spring and fall I could shed my jacket and wear a T-shirt in the afternoon. The weather was actually not too different from my hometown of Santa Cruz, but I am inclined to say it was a little colder overall and lacking the occasional out of season heat wave. I think I was just longing for those warm days that you spend hours at the beach until the sun goes down. The few times I thought one of these classic days had arrived and I tried to enter the ocean without a wetsuit, I quickly regretted that bold decision.

So what is the point of all of this? I think the point is that change is good and so are new experiences. I already knew that I was a summer person and this only solidified that part of me. Putting up with a little cold was worth the sacrifice of being able to live abroad for a year, however, I will try to include the summer in my future travel plans if possible.

One of these days I will delve deeper into my travels in South America, but I am not sure where to even start. For now enjoy these photos that illustrate the not so warm winter weather that I experienced during my year with no summer. I think it’s safe to say that I am looking forward to summertime in California, which is nearly upon us.

Evan Quarnstrom at the Chilean ski resort of Chapa Verde.
Trying out the snow of the Andes. As you can see, this ‘resort’ was barely above the snow line, which made for pretty crappy snow. 
Evan Quarnstrom walking the cobblestone street of Valparaiso.
Me and my jacket again in the streets of Valparaíso. 
Evan Quarnstrom fastening his leash before surfing in Puertecillo.
Suiting up at Puertecillo. This is one of the best point breaks I have ever surfed, but extra neoprene was necessary. 
Evan Quarnstrom hiking Cerro La Campana in Chile.
Solo hiking La Campana. Trying to keep warm on the windswept peak. 
Street art of a sun and a moon in Uruguay.
“You have to look at the good things in life.” Uruguay was cold as well, but not as much, hence the flip flops. 
Siblings hiking in the rain in Torres del Paine.
The aforementioned summer weeks that I spent in the Chilean Patagonia with my sister, Anne (left) and my twin brother, Nik (center). Fun fact: my hands felt like they were going to fall off when this photo was taken.
Siblings bracing themselves from the wind at a penguin colony in Chile.
The wind is infamous in Patagonia. It blows around the southern oceans unimpeded by any landmass until it collides with Patagonia. Here we are at a penguin colony trying to brace ourselves from the wind’s force. 

7 thoughts on “The Year With No Summer

  1. All things considered I think I’d prefer a year with no bummer! It sounds like you have more than a year with no bummers, especially once you decided to wrap a scarf around your neck, Santa Cruz fashions be damned! Keep writing. The way to get better and better at writing is to write more and write more often. I’m happy to see that the writing gene has been passed along. Come visit when you can.


  2. So true. Luckily, you got a big dose of sun and surf in Mexico before traveling to Chile. Hope to repeat that trip this January. You are a great writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha,
    I wear that blue poncho all the time. That was a great experience. The craziest thing was how it felt like it was raining in Punta Arenas but it was just water being blown off the ocean. I managed to dodge winter the last two Decembers and Januarys with the trip to Chile then SE asia. But unfortunately summer in San Francisco consists of never seeing the sky. Stoked to see you at the end of the month it has been too long.

    Liked by 1 person

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