A group of us were at Keith’s Hut, near Pemberton, British Columbia, to ring in the New Year. Keith’s Hut isn’t remote, but it does require a reaonsbale amount of effort to reach. After a spicy creek crossing, you climb 1,500ft over 3 miles to the hut, with the most elevation gain coming in the final half mile. It’s just far enough to be tiring, but just close enough that it’s seems okay to pack a few extra pounds of luxury items. That is how we came to be in possession of a glass fifth of Crown Royal, strapped securely to the outside of Andrew’s backpack.
|The crown is in there. Stuffed into the black center pouch.|
|Yeah.... we definitely packed too much stuff....|
The problem with said arrangement, if you haven’t surmised already, was the container in which the whisky resided. Besides being stupidly heavy, glass - even thick, elaborate glass like that of a Crown bottle - is delicate. When Andrew threw his pack to the ground in a moment of triumph after many hours of effort, the glass shattered. We all watched in horror as our hopes and dreams seeped into the snow, staining it brown with our grief. I’m that moment of disbelief, more than one of us shed a tear.
|Even looking at this photo again makes me sad.|
But our loss is your gain. I want you avoid this sad fate and learn from our experience. Follow these three simple rules to keep your booze safe and ready to enjoy on your next adventure, and remember to always drink responsibly:
- Never on the bottom. Or the side. Or the outside. Or - and this should be obvious - next to any of the pointy things. I’ve known more than one person who has punctured a beer in a pack and spent a cold night in a stinky, wet sleeping bag. Be sure to add padding around your beloveds, and be careful not to squish or squeeze it too tightly. And whatever you do, don’t drop 50lbs of pack right on top of it. Your alcohol is precious cargo, and should be treated as such.
- Glass is a no no. Most good alcohol comes in glass bottles, but it needn't stay there. Plastic bladders (including the one referenced in my Alpine Gimonade blog) are cheap and readily available. Buy one designated to your mountain beverages, and be sure to rinse and store it in the freezer when it’s not in use. You could also pack a decent boxed wine (or canned!) or a plastic bottle of booze. Stick with beer in cans for adventures, and keep those glass bottles in the cooler in the car. You’ll be thirsty when you get back too.
- Check (and double check) your seals. Even the best container can leak when not sealed properly. Wine, water, beer, booze - all of it sucks to spill on your kit. For smaller containers, add a plastic baggie to be on the safe side. It’s easy enough to remember: always righty-tighty those containers so you don’t end up with lefty loosey boozy all over the place.
Our trip did turn out alright, albeit different than we had intended. We skied from dawn until dusk on New Years Eve day, and came in at dark to eat dinner and ring in the New Year. After what felt like an eternity of waiting, someone checked their watch and it was only 6:30pm (the sun sets just after 4pm that time of year)! We struggled to make it to “Novia Scotian New Years”, and at 8pm cracked the cans of champagne I had carried to celebrate.