:: Fun Fact :: About 99.9% of the photos in this post are kidnapped from other people…because somehow I managed to factory reset my phone and lose every single photo because I’m too lazy to empty out my overflowing DropBox. Basically, I suck, so enjoy everyone else’s photography!
A few months ago I jumped at the chance to go hiking off the Bierstadt Trailhead with Andy and Chris, two fairly cool dudes behind the social media platforms of Sierra Trading Post. An impromptu 9 mile hike up two mountains the day before my first 50K sounded like a fantastic idea…or not. But I still went, had a blast, rocked the 50K and look back saying it was all worth it!
Shortly after freezing our tails off at the top of the extremely windy summit of Square Top Mountain we started discussing our next trip…in the dead of winter. It started out with a snowshoeing trip in the Snowy Range of Wyoming but quickly evolved into a winter camping weekend.
At first I was really excited to get out there and try something new…then I started packing. Uh, yea. We were rather under-prepared! We had the basics but not the beefed up basics. Sierra Trading Post was kind enough to set me up with a cold-weather friendly Primus liquid fuel camping stove and a fancy pants Black Diamond 50L pack and I had a list of things to buy…I just forgot to buy them. All of a sudden it was the night before our first Wyoming excursion and I was freaking out!
After half packing I crawled into my bed to absorb as much warmth as possible, maybe I could channel my internal reptile and save some heat for later?
On Saturday morning we made the drive up to Wyoming where we met Andy, Chris, Heather and Lynne at what appeared to be the most popular place to snowmobile from…ever. Seriously, the 3 miles leading up to the trailhead was packed with massive pickups pulling snowmobile trailers. The road became a parking lot choked full of snowmobiles, 17-point Y turns and us. I had no idea snowmobiling was such a big deal and now I kind of want to get out there and try it!
Eventually we made our way up to the trailhead, strapped on our splitboards or snowshoes and headed west toward Brooklyn Lake. The peaceful silence of the forest was overcome by the sound of snowmobiles but I couldn’t bring myself to get upset – they were outside on a Saturday which is more than many people do! Besides, my limited experience on a big sled has me believing it is a sport that requires some level of physical excursion, especially if you get stuck! The sheer number of people out there on sleds made me want to give it a try again!
We randomly fed our faces as we trekked further west. Our late start had us hiking through lunch so there were many quick snack breaks…which doubled as photo breaks, breathers and in-depth conversations.
A few miles in we decided to head off the trail and into the forest to find the perfect spot for our winter camping village. Alex scoped out a large opening in a forest of pine trees with plenty of sunlight and we all got to work setting up camp.
Can’t see the video? Click here!
Once we got our tent set up we realized we’d forgotten one tiny little essential – snow stakes. Oops. We improvised with trekking poles and packed snow. It actually worked out good – our tent didn’t blow away in the Wyoming wind and we got an extra foot of insulation! We made up for our oddly packed in tent with an extra fancy vestibule – it had its very own pine tree for ambiance!
After our village of tents was all set up we headed out to explore and came upon a big, open, inviting hill! We decided to skin up it, because…why not? The scenery was actually quite incredible once we got to the top and while the ride down was short it was worth the time it took to switch over to snowboard mode!
We made it back to our village just as the sun was setting and the nearly full moon was rising. The temperature dropped but it was so gorgeous I couldn’t complain, yet!
Dinner was served up piping hot thanks to our new liquid fuel stove. There was a learning curve to master and I may or may not have nearly started the tent on fire with Chris inside…oops. But my cocoa was hot!
As the sun sank well below the horizon I began reconsidering my desire to go camping in January. It was getting cold! I layered up and hunkered down…and maybe complained about the cold until I fell asleep. I woke up to an illuminated tent and had never been so excited for morning before in my life…only to find out it was actually 11:58pm and all that “sunlight” was really a massive moon sharing a clear sky with thousands of bright stars.
During the long hours of the night my bladder proved to me that it hates me — somehow I hiked around for hours with only one bio break but just 2 hours into the night I had to drag my poor body out of a semi-warm sleeping bag to drop my drawers by the pee tree. Luckily the sky was absolutely stunning…at least I had a huge moon and shining stars to distract me from the cold on the many trips I made into the thicket of trees that night!
Eventually morning dawned, bright and cold. Chris and I were quick to get up and move around in hopes of warming up a bit. We headed down the trail and frolicked around in an open field of snow before meandering back to the campsite in the least direct way possible — post holing through a forest of thigh deep will warm you up, fwiw.
We broke down our campsite and then the bloggers of the group got down to business with product reviews. Sierra Trading Post had hooked us up with some great gear of field testing and we had opinions to share. For the record, using proper English, not tripping over your words and avoiding profanity is rather difficult when a camera is staring at you! We are not going to talk about how many takes it took to get my awkward footage, its embarrassing!
As the afternoon rolled around we rolled out of camp and back to the trailhead. Our jaunt back to the trailhead took about half the time as our hike in…I think we were all hungry for some hot food prepared for us by someone else! Oh, and a shower. I felt so icky after 24 hours of sweating and freezing in the same layers!
If you haven’t already guessed this winter camping trip was planned out by Sierra Trading Post – they did all the planning, I just showed up and smiled [awkwardly] for the camera! It was an awesome trip and I learned all kinds of stuff about winter camping – more on that next week! It was also a lot of fun to spend time with the people behind the social media of a company I keep impulse shopping at! Real people who actually use the gear they promote! Here is a quick video of our adventures on the trip – aka the short version of all these words…
Can’t see the video? Click here!
Should you happen to be in the shopping mood and have a minor obsession with outdoor gear I’d highly recommend checking out Sierra Trading Post – they have pretty much everything available at great deals. Plus their shipping is fast and returns are easy peasy!
I did go camping with a bunch of bloggers…which means this isn’t the only recap! Check out what Andy, Heather and Lynne had to say about their camping experience in the Medicine Bow Wilderness in Wyoming! And this isn’t my last post about winter camping – we learned a lot on our first trip into the frigid wilderness which I’ll happily share so someone else can learn from our mistakes!
:: Discount Deal :: Follow any of the Sierra Trading Post links on this page and you’ll have access to a nifty discount code for 30% off all winter camping related gear until February 28th. This included avalanche beacons, like the Ortovox Zoom+ we have…that are never included in the Sierra Trading Post discounts. If you think you’ll need an avalanche beacon go buy one now!