For my family a typical day on our local trails is pretty anticlimactic. We know what to wear, what to pack, where to go and our bodies are well adjusted to exercise above 8,000 feet.
But, adding relatives with little to no cold weather experience from low altitude locations into the mix required careful and detailed planning.
We started by thinking back to their last visit.
- We knew that Grandma would want to take a ton of pictures, so scenic locations were a must.
- We knew the Hawaiian cousins would be excited to play in snow but they would not know the misery that is being cold and wet in the Rocky Mountains. It was essential to find appropriate cold clothing for them.
- We knew that short 2-3 hour long excursions would be better for our large group than a day long trek through the snow. We also knew that the altitude could be a big problem for our guests.
- We knew that our relatives weren't renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle, limiting our trailhead options.
As we thought through our list of outdoor activities ranging from snowshoeing to sledding and downhill skiing to tromping through the forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree we asked ourselves the following questions and tried to come up with the answers as we planned our week.
How are we going to dress everyone?
This was our biggest concern since it was the first time on snow for most of our relatives. We started planning this several months out by doing a quick assessment of the clothing we had on hand that we could share and then acquiring what we needed by borrowing from friends or shopping deals at Sierra Trading Post (of course!). Scrounging up hats, gloves, socks, base, mid, and outer-layers turned out to be pretty easy. Finding boots for everyone was our biggest challenge.
How are we going to keep the group fed and hydrated on the trails?
To keep it easy we used our truck as a basecamp and never ventured too far from the trailhead. We made sure to pack our camp stove and mugs which we used to make hot cider and cocoa, keeping everyone hydrated and warm. When we did venture further from the trailhead my husband and I carried the bulk of the food and water for everyone since we are used to the altitude and confident on snowy terrain.
How are we going to transport babies/toddlers/preschoolers and how are we going to push, pull or carry them? What other gear do we need?
With a baby, toddler, and two preschoolers in tow we were concerned with how to transport tired kids and carry the little ones. Fortunately our adult to child ratio was good and we were able to use a combination of backpack carriers, cheap plastic sleds, and our Chariot with ski attachment to keep kids moving down the trails.
What are the fitness levels of those in the group and what is the experience level? What trails are suitable for beginners?
We knew that we had a wide range of fitness levels and abilities so we tried to find places that we could enjoy as a family. So, we stuck to easy trails with a cool destination, like a fun hill to sled down.
What are the interests of the group?
We knew that our relatives would just be happy playing outside in the snow. Although we did sacrifice some backcountry skiing for a day of downhill skiing at the request of several family members. It was well worth it just to spend time on the mountain together.
I'm convinced that a little bit of time spent planning and preparing for an outdoor adventure is vital to ensure that everyone is safe has a good time. Our relatives left Wyoming with white winter memories that will last a lifetime.
Have you ever planned an outdoor adventure for a large group? What questions did you ask yourself while planning?