Going Outside with Good Friends
Nature refills us, and so do our besties. Here’s how we’re making more time outside with friends happen.
We recently returned from a weekend at Castle Mountain Resort, staying with 10 adults and five kids in a large rental on the hill. We used to do this trip with good friends annually, and it was one of the last outings we did in the before times of March 2020. After a pandemic hiatus, it felt amazing to return to a place we love with people we love.
This got us thinking about going outside with good friends, something we both want more of in our lives. Nature refills us, and so do our besties. But group trips can be annoying to organize, what with the required schedule coordination, planning far ahead, trying to please everyone and uncertainty about the weather.
Here’s how we’re going to make more time outside with friends happen — and how you can too!
Make it an annual trip
It took us years of planning a regular ski trip to realize we were doing it all wrong. Each year we picked a different weekend, trying to accommodate many busy schedules and also time our trip for optimal snow. Then one year, after a particularly successful ski trip, we had a brain wave — why not just stick with this exact weekend? So that’s exactly what we did. Now everyone just knows, the first weekend of March is always reserved for skiing fun times.
Stick with what you like
Exploring new places is great! But it’s often harder to do with a big group, when everyone has slightly different preferences. For this particular trip, we bounced around for a few years between different resorts and accommodations. Then we tried a ski-in ski-out rental at Castle Mountain Resort, initially lured in by the cheaper prices for lodging and lift tickets. We absolutely loved it.
There’s a lot to love: the great road trip stops along the way; the ski hill’s homey atmosphere, with ancient chairlifts and a liftie who gives hugs; the ski options for downhill, cross-country and touring; the best named ski pub, the T-Bar. Now that we always go to Castle, our only predicament is how we can make this a longer trip.
But also be open to change
Ok, ok, enough gushing about Castle. We’ve had many other great group trips, too, and there’s tips to be learned from these outings as well. First, if you’re into group camping trips, be open to June or September over July or August. We’ve found it much easier to secure big bookings in these months, so if you’re fine with slightly chillier night-time temps, give them a try.
It also helps to be open on where you’re going. We used to do a regular group camping trip at Spray Lakes West campground, a first-come first-served campground. But like many campgrounds in the Rocky Mountains, it’s popular and getting spots became a stressful affair. We started looking elsewhere, and lucky for us, there’s so many other options. We’ve had wonderful group camping trips at Chain Lakes, Beaver Mines Lake, Dinosaur Provincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Plus check out our guide to Crown land camping for even more ideas on where to go. And, if camping in national parks is your jam, remember reservations open this month.
#4 Keep it Simple
Whenever we do group ski, hiking or camping trips, we divvy up meals meaning you’re not on the hook for cooking and cleaning all weekend long. Our recent Friday and Saturday night stay at Castle involved five different meals, so each couple attending was responsible for one meal. This meant we enjoyed five delicious meals and only had to cook one! More time for skiing, and hanging with our besties.
What are your tips and tricks for getting outside with good friends? Share your ideas in the comments.
Your article brought back memories of going outside with good friends. We were one of three couples with young babies and toddlers that booked into a lodge in the Sundre area for a weekend of cross-country skiing. As a couple, we each had two half days of skiing with another couple while the third couple stayed with the children. We had shared meal preparation as well and really enjoyed the get-togethers! That was almost 50 years ago! Thanks for the memory! Kathy
Carpool! Good way to save on gas and enjoy the outdoors with your friends.