How to Stay Drunk on a Dangerous Camping Trip


This story is over 5 years old.

How to Stay Drunk on a Dangerous Camping Trip

The downside to camping is that there is no wine. Or weed. Or anything fun that you would probably want after hiking nine miles a day. So what’s an inebriate to do in the wilderness? Be prepared, of course.

I wouldn't call myself "outdoorsy."

Sure, I love camping. Hell, I can pitch a tent and even roll up my own sleeping bag. But you're never going to catch me proposing that we go on a 14-mile hike or shitting in the woods. Yes, I am down to post up next to a river with a lot of liquor for a weekend. No, I am not scaling a goddamn mountain.

That being said, there was no way I was turning down a recent invitation to backpack Yosemite's High Sierra camp loop with my family. Sure, my only experience backpacking was in-between classes in high school, but it's Yosemite! The loop is a daunting 50 or so miles over the course of one week. The upside is that the camps are already set up and they feed you, so you're not lugging around a ton of equipment or food. The downside is there is no wine. Or weed. Or anything fun that you would probably want after hiking fucking nine miles a day. So what's an inebriate to do in the wilderness? Be prepared, of course.


Buy the right amount of wine. You want to have enough wine for everyone to feel good, but not enough to get wasted. You're waking up early and hiking your asses off, so no one has time to be hung over. Each adult in your party should be able to have three to four glasses if they please. Consider that a bottle has four to five glasses in it, and depending on how generous you're feeling, buy accordingly. For reference, two bottles a night on my trip were not quite enough for five wine-loving adults. In hindsight, I would have done three per night.

Buy drinkable wines. At the end of a long day at high elevations, you're going to want wines that are easy-drinking and thirst-quenching. Stick with light bodied, versatile wines that are happy hour "I'm drinking alone in my tent"-friendly and food-friendly, too. Big hits on my trip were French reds like La Pepié Côt ($16.50) and Foillard Morgon Cote du Py ($39.50), effervescent whites like Arca Nova Vinho Verde ($10) and Mokoroa Txakoli ($17.50), and naturalistic California wines like Broc Cellars' Love Red blend ($21) and Lo-Fi's Cabernet Franc ($24.50).

Get your wines mule-packed. At the loop's base camp, you can get wine mule-packed to your future destinations so you're not stuck carrying a week's worth of wine. It costs $5 a bottle and it is completely worth it to know that they'll be waiting for you while you're trekking 39 switchbacks up 1,000 feet. Forget private swimming holes with river otters, the $5-a-bottle mule-packing is the best secret in Yosemite.


Ignore winesplaining. These backpacking trips attract a lot of old white people that love going on and on about Burgundy, because if you don't know a handful of mid-range producers that some random guy from Michigan has in his cellar, you don't know anything about wine. Do not share your wine with these people. Much like dogs, you should never reward old white people for their bad behavior.

Bring whiskey. Because you're in the wilderness. It's against the law not to have whiskey.

Don't eat edibles . Yeah, at first, it IS really amazing to be super high and put your feet in rivers. Until you start coming down halfway up a goddamn mountain.

Do bring a vape pen (for weed). This is the only time in your life that you will be celebrated for bringing it somewhere. Plus you will need it after the 16-year-old girls you are sharing a tent with leave half a bag of trail mix in the trashcan after you already took out the trash because you're a responsible camper, and you have to deal with a possible rodent-induced plague outbreak in your tent at three in the fucking morning. Sixteen-year-olds may be able to recognize the smell of weed smoke, but they do not recognize vapor dissipating out the top of your sleeping bag.

Chill white wines in rivers. Just watch the labels. They will start to fall apart and you don't want to be a litterbug, the worst critter to encounter in the wild.

Don't bring your Adidas tracksuit. You will only use it for three nights and then leave it in a bear-box because backpacking is not about being stylish, it is about getting to wherever the mules took your wine as quickly as possible.


If a fellow camper offers you apple vodka he's trying to get rid of because his wife packed it, say yes. There are no social norms in the wilderness, and apple vodka mixes extremely well with camp lemonade.

Shewee > P-Style. After a week of comparative studies, I can say with confidence that the Shewee is the better female urination device for both sober and drunk scared night-peeing in the woods.

Become homies with your ranger. He has gin. Plus he knows a lot about stars.

If a fellow camper offers you a "magic" pill they take on airplanes after you have an anxiety attack while climbing down a 60-degree angled rock slab, take it. You'll feel great going into dinner, and won't think twice about the ranger sitting next to you. He's your homie! Until he begins to ask you about your thoughts on last night's campfire talk and you can't formulate words. You will be incapacitated for the rest of the evening, mumbling to yourself about Gentle Jeffery pines, and will be teased about it for the rest of the trip. It will be worth it.

Share. You're going to be with these people for a week, pushing yourselves physically and mentally, and eating three meals a day together. Four, if you count your midday snack. It's hard not to make a friend or two under these conditions, and wine is the most communal of spirits. It is against its nature not to be shared. Plus, if they are giving you sedatives and apple vodka, it's only fair.

They say it's about the journey, not the destination. I'm not so sure. Of course the journey is beautiful, challenging, rewarding and important. But the destination has wine after hiking fucking nine miles with 30 pounds of shit on your back.