My Pipes Froze: Winter Van Life Panic


  • The short-lived ski trip that ended quite unexpectedly
  • First 2 days back on the skis
  • Back in Denver quicker than expected
  • Fighting demons inside

November 2022


Where In The World Was I?

  • Denver, CO
  • Keystone, CO
  • Breckenridge, CO
  • Denver, CO

Off To The Mountains!

Finally! We finally headed up to ski. It’s been a journey trying to get everything prepped and ready for ski days and cold winter nights in the Rocky Mountains.

Keystone Ski Day

My first day back on the sticks! It was an absolutely beautiful day. With an inch or two overnight, the trees were all snow-covered – one of my favorite sights.

The first run started out… rough 😅 My new skis are much wider and longer than my previous season’s skis. It took a little while to get familiar with the new edges. But, after a couple runs it was starting to come back.

I ended around noon and headed back to the van to eat lunch and chill (YouTube, read, walk) the rest of the day.

The… Event.

When I woke up the next morning, the stoke of skiing very quickly turned to panic.

I turned on the faucet to brush my teeth and… nothing came out…

I quickly crouched down and peeked at the water pump down by the water tank. I felt the pipes. Frozen.


This was the exact thing I feared.

A new water tank, a new water pump, new pipes is not only gonna cost me but it’s gonna be a hell of a time trying to put this all back together.

Having been a full 2 minutes and 30 seconds from waking up, I was paralyzed by what to do next.

I remembered that I had a backup propane heater, which I got out and subsequently started warming up the area around the pipes and water pump.

I warmed and warmed for an hour with my eyes trained like a hawk for leaks. Leaks could mean the pipes are toast and that is NOT a good sign. At this point, the pipes were thawed, but the water still wasn’t coming out of the faucet and the pump wasn’t starting. And speaking of… I started noticing a couple droplets of water running down the pipes. I wiped them down but didn’t see anything major yet.

After another hour of keeping an eye on things the water still wasn’t working. I realized, there wasn’t much else I could do. The pump must be frozen, which is gonna take way longer to thaw than the pipes.

So, I did what any smart person would do… and ran away from the problem 😂

I decided not much was gonna change in the next couple hours. If anything, the sun coming out might help the pump thaw, but it’s gonna take forever. So, I put towels down, threw on the ski gear, and headed up to Breckenridge… 🤪

By noon I’d come back and assess the damages…

Breckenridge Ski Day

Day 2 on the skis. I was getting used to the edges by now and MAN was this day good.

I practiced my long turns, my short turns, and started to feel super flowy. There is just no better feeling in the world.

Midmorning I decided to take a shot at Crescendo, an ungroomed run I saw from the ski lift. It was choppy, bumpy, with lots of little trees poking through the snow. Last season, I’d be very cautious of a run like this because I’d frequently catch an edge or not be able to turn easily. Today though, these skis just tore through the snow so easily.

I cannot wait for more runs on these things, I’m very impressed.

I also met this guy on the lift that’s a real estate agent in Breckenridge. I asked him, “what kind of hours do you work if you’re up here on a Wednesday?” He responded, “I’m workin’ right now!” I laughed like it was a joke.

But 5 minutes of chatting later and he was handing me his business card.

Who’s laughing now 😅

Such a smart idea, where would you find clients in a ski town? On the ski lifts, duh.

The Damage.

I was terrified of what I would find when I got back to the van.

I opened the door to mixed results.

I ran out of propane for my heater, so it was colder than I set it – not a great sign.

But, there weren’t any huge leaks in the pipes – not a bad sign.

But also, the pump still wouldn’t start – not a good sign.

I was officially without water. Guess it’s time to head back down to Denver to regroup.

Back to Denver

After an evening of emergency planning (i.e. buying a water jug at the store and filling back up on propane), I tackled the situation the next morning.

I had a lot of mixed thoughts in my mind, from the negative of “oh woe is me, feel bad for me” to the more positive/realistic of “just focus on the next action.” I kept telling myself, these negative thoughts don’t actually do anything helpful. They don’t solve the problem. So, if I can choose how I respond to these circumstances, why don’t I choose something useful.

I shifted my focus to the next thing that would bring up more information: taking apart the pump.

I took out the tool bag and got to work. Fortunately, I found no cracks or damages, but when I put it back together, it still wasn’t working. The last thing I thought of: a blow fuse? I opened up the electrical cabinet and sure enough, there it was, a blown 15 amp fuse.

I swapped fuses with the fridge and it kicked right back on. Success! Wait.

That’s when the water started dripping out.

Not good.

After lots and lots of back and forth, I guessed that it might be the connection points/joints in the pipes.

I headed to the store to grab a new fuse and some plumbers tape. After re-taping multiple joints (and multiple times), I saw no new water droplets. Thank god.

It’s a beautiful thing.


So in summary, it seems this is what happened:

  • The water in the pipes froze but didn’t rupture any pipes
  • Because of the frozen water in the pipes, the pump tried pumping, but got stuck, sucking in more than 15 amps, blowing the fuse
  • After thawing the pipes, the initial droplets of water must have just been condensation on the surfaces going from cold to warm very quickly
  • After replacing the fuse, the joints started leaking because I had undone and then reconnected the joints, making the original thread tape lose their effectiveness
  • Replacing the fuse and thread tape got me back to normal again

We’re now effectively back to where things were before heading up to the mountains to ski.

I’m incredibly grateful things didn’t go any worse than they did. In a way, I’m glad this all happened now (early) and not when I was in the height of winter chasing powder in the middle of Utah or something.

I’m also just grateful for the learning experience. I’ve gained some very real and applicable knowledge about my water system and that’s invaluable in situations like these.

Lastly, I’ve ordered some materials to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future ✌️ This should be the last piece of the winterizing puzzle!

The “Other” Stuff

The un-exciting part of this week 🤪

Oh, one last thing.

After one of my workouts, I decided to throw back on the boxing gloves. The boxing bag was just hanging there ready to be smacked, ya know?

If you remember the last video (from Life Update October 30th, 2022), this time felt very different…

This time, man, I got into it.

I felt the rage.

I felt the anger.

I felt the fury coming out of me as I let loose…

And man, was that invigorating.

I felt like my Shadow was coming up to the surface.

It honestly makes me a little uncomfortable watching back the video. You have to understand that I’ve never been this type of person. I was always the nice boy, afraid of confrontation, discomfort, and negativity.

But, I’m different now.

I’ve been trying to integrate more of my Shadow (the “dark side” of my personality) into me. I’m trying to build more confidence, assertion, and connect more to my masculine side that’s been repressed all this time.

Change isn’t comfortable.


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