There are tons of reasons why spring is so special: the perfect temperatures, the likelihood of late season snow, tons of on-mountain entertainment. However, what might be the quintessential spring experience is one that you may have missed — until now. Behold: the on-mountain picnic.
We’re not talking about stuffing some granola bars or a PB&J in your pocket, scarfing them on the lift and calling it good (though this is a perfectly acceptable way to fuel your day). Instead, we’re talking about snagging a grill on the hill or camping out at the base and producing a full-on, perfectly prepped and presented picnic. Here’s how to win the picnic game this spring.
Plan your menu
They say that the devil is in the details and there are few occurrences that showcase this more than planning a meal outside of your home for multiple people. The smallest detail can make or break your experience, so here is some food for thought as you start planning your menu.
- Do some research. Though several ski resorts and camping sites have grilling areas that are open to the public, the tools and gear that are available there can vary. Are they gas grills or charcoal? Do you need to bring your own tongs and other grilling utensils? Is it first-come, first-served or is there some sort of reservation situation? Finding out the answers to these questions in advance will help you plan what you need to execute your plan.
- Create your menu. One of the best things about on-mountain picnics is that it provides an outlet for your creativity. Sure, you could pack some brats and burgers and call it good, but a perfect spring day seems to call for a more refined repast. Think of it as a style of camping: If you can dream it, you can do it. Don’t stop at just one course, either: hors d’oeuvres and dessert are welcome, too. Easily transportable offerings like charcuterie, cheese and crudité-type snacks are great finger food for groups or go fancy and stick foil-wrapped Brie on the grill, heating until gooey. Add jam and crackers and you’ll look like a rock star. For the main, pre-assembled shish kabobs and foil grilling packets are a favorite. S’mores are always a favorite dessert, but why not try individually wrapping chocolate chip cookies in wax paper, then in foil. Heat on the grill and you’ve got a soft, sweet treat.
- Crunch the numbers. Though an on-mountain picnic can easily turn into a “come one, come all” party, knowing how many people you’d like to feed ahead of time is important. An easy fix for a larger-than-anticipated group is to bring extra snacks like chips and veggies with dip or pretzels that are easy to transport yet are easy to share. Then, you can plan enough protein for you and your friends and still be hospitable.
Prep your picnic
Procrastination is not your friend when you’re planning this picnic. The key? Prep ahead.
- Plan then prep. Planning on kabobs? Assemble them at home and wrap for easy transport. Betting on burgers? Make them the night before and freeze them in freezer bags—they’ll thaw during the morning run and be ready for the grill. a lot of the preparation the night before. Bake sweet potatoes, halve them and individually wrap the halves in foil with a pat of butter in each one. Then, simply place on the grill. The more you can accomplish before you even hit the slopes, the better. After all, you don’t want to be chopping while everyone else is socializing.
- Don’t forget the essentials. You may not need a six-course place setting on the mountain, but plates, napkins and utensils are greatly appreciated.
- Sharing is caring. Did you forget something? Make friends with the other folks on the around the grill. They might be willing to share what they have, especially if you have a bit extra of something else (quaffable substances are almost always appreciated). Plus, table space and grills will most likely be in high-demand, so dust off that small talk.
- Music soothes the savage beast. Did you remember a portable speaker? It’s nice to set the mood during your mountain picnic but be respectful of other folks and mind the volume. Or offer to let them pick the playlist — your choice.
Pack it in, pack it out
After all of the food has been consumed and the merriment has concluded, it’s time to clean up and head down. Perhaps one of the best tips for on-mountain picnics is to remember that what you pack in, you need to pack out.
- Consider your containers. You’ll want to get some runs in before lunch and having 30 pounds of weight in your pack is going to detract from your shredding. As with backpacking, try to eliminate extra packaging and think about how your picnic will travel. Boxed wine has come a long way and cans are always preferable to glass.
- Your mom doesn’t work here. When it comes to partying in nature, don’t be a punk. Watch for flying items like wrappers or napkins and either stow them or throw them (away). No one wants to clean up after you, so be sure to leave only good vibes when you’re departing.
Spring is fleeting, so make the most of your days with an on-mountain picnic — it’s another way to enjoy the slopes and the outdoors in style.