How the hell did I forget the Jim Beam?
With the last few hours of 2015 ticking away, my buddy Kellen and I found ourselves reluctantly splitting a cold beer. Reluctantly, that is, because it was negative five degrees out, which meant that I had to hold my arm out of my sleeping bag like a submarine periscope, weakly clutching the can in our tent in an attempt to keep the rest of my body warm in my sleeping bag.
But the beer was an obligatory salute to the past year of adventures, which had culminated in this miserably frigid ski trip to Yosemite’s Glacier Point. Kellen and I traditionally bring a plastic bottle of Jim Beam with us on all of our trips — it’s a trustworthy, cheap adventure companion who is always eager to warm us up after a hard day in the backcountry. There’s also zero risk of it freezing. However, since I’d forgotten to buy a bottle the night before, we were forced to drink to 2015’s final moments by pathetically sipping on an Anchor Steam Liberty Ale through chattering teeth after one of the more difficult days I’ve had in the outdoors.
The whole thing started back around Thanksgiving. After a few beers at the annual Huckberry office feast, Alex Souza, Huckberry’s Head of Photography, threw it out there — why don’t we ring in 2016 by skiing out to Glacier Point in Yosemite to do some snow camping? Replacing the overpacked San Francisco bars with one of the best views in Yosemite seemed like a foolproof plan. But like all good trips, the idea was much easier than the execution.
Fast forward to the morning of December 31st. After a few hours of sleep, we awoke at 4 am wakeup call to play a game of gear tetris in the car and depart the Bay Area in the dark, “Let the Good Times Roll” playing on the radio. We — Alex (who’d just come down with the flu), his fiancée Jaclyn, our friend Matt, and me — met up with Kellen in Yosemite Valley, El Capitan looming majestically overhead, and arrived at Badger Pass around 9:15 am. By the time we’d rented gear, obtained backcountry permits, bought last-minute beer and Tylenol purchases, and packed the sled, 11 am was rolling around and we were hitting the trail an hour after we’d planned.
But spirits were high, with blue skies, crisp 25-degree air, and the thought of camping at one of the most iconic viewpoints in the world — Glacier Point, which overlooks Yosemite National Park with a hero shot of Half Dome smack in the middle. Then things slowly started to go wrong. The good times, it seemed were left rolling in the car.