A weekend in the mountains can be absolute bliss–just what the doctor ordered when you’re feeling city-harried and hemmed-in. The promise of fresh air, broad views, deep forests, and loads of outdoor fun–skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain-biking, kayaking, etc.–add up to the perfect mini-getaway.
That said, mountain travel can be risky–especially for the under-prepared. Unpredictable weather, remote country, poorly maintained backroads–these are realities of many a mountain range, even one just a stone’s throw from civilization. The Laurentians, for example, are wonderfully accessible to urbanites from southern Ontario and Quebec, but they aren’t just a playground: They demand respect, and properly packing for a weekend outing is one way of showing it.
So, whether you’re heading off for the backcountry or you’re hoping to luxuriate in one of those amazing Mont Tremblant chalet rentals, here are some tips for what to have on hand for your rustic retreat.
Prepping for Weather Dramas
Whatever season you’re visiting the Laurentians in, you need to be equipped for the fickleness of mountain weather. Given their complicated impacts on air currents and their prevailingly colder conditions compared to the lowlands, mountains of a decent-enough height can serve up almost any kind of weather–any time of year.
So it’s important to pack for chilly or even frigid elements: Particularly if you’re stranded by car trouble or miles down a trail when a storm hits, you’ll want to have plenty of layers of warm clothing and an emergency blanket (stowed in the vehicle, anyway). You should also bring extra food and water in case you are stuck on some forest road for longer than you intended.
Especially in the snowy season, you’ll naturally want to have a shovel, chains, kitty litter, and other emergency winter equipment for contending with dicey roads.
Other Important Supplies
A good map is absolutely essential. In this era of car GPS displays and smartphone map apps, too many travelers are overly confident that their computerized gadgets will keep them fully oriented. But you need a large-scale paper map of comprehensive detail whenever you set out onto the mountain backroads (let alone the mountain backcountry). Get a topographic map of the area you’ll be exploring as well as a detailed, up-to-date road and trail map from the agency charged with managing the land. Forest routes and logging roads are notoriously confusing, and relying on a web-based map (even if you have the signal to access it, which isn’t a guarantee) to navigate such a network is foolhardy.
A first-aid kit should be in your vehicle anyway. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but you’ll feel better knowing it’s there just in case. (Chopping and hauling firewood, after all, gives you plenty of opportunities for splinters, and installing chains in icy, slushy snow seems to produce cuts and scrapes about half the time.) You should also bring backup prescription supplies and, if you wear contact lenses, a pair of glasses so you’re not left half-blind in the woods in case you lose a contact.
Don’t let under-preparation derail your mountain vacation. Pack more than you think you’ll need and be sure you’re adequately covered in case of emergencies, and you’re going to enjoy your adventure (which, more likely than not, is going to go off without a hitch) all the more!
Michael May is a longtime mountain man and avid writer. He likes to share his passion for the peaks by posting online. Look for his entertaining articles on a variety of websites and blogs.