FROM HATEFUL TEENAGE CYBERBULLYING to grammatically-abysmal political Facebook rants from high school acquaintances, social media can be a pretty poisonous place. And that’s without even mentioning the existence of @realDonaldTrump. But, despite the negativity, the only thing keeping my accounts alive is the potential to actually connect with and physically meet up with like-minded people in ways never before possible. That’s exactly what happened in January when Instagram superstar @moonmountainman organized a winter camping Instameet called the Winter Tribe Meetup. Almost 80 people showed up on the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, northwest of Denver, to spend a weekend in the winter woods and connect with people who were crazy enough to do the same.

There was below-zero windchill, but a warm fire burned continuously for three days. There was whiskey and many new friends to share with. There was even a 18-month-old badass named Jack, though I think he opted for hot cocoa. We learned some night photography tips, how to build a snow cave and the art of filling a water bottle with boiling water before bed and burying it in your sleeping bag. Most importantly we learned that winter camping, though certainly challenging, is way better than summer camping.

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