It’s finally November and the highly anticipated fraternity “Mountain Weekends” are fast approaching. People are packing their bags, working tirelessly on coolers, and searching for last minute dates before they set off into the woods. However, while some of you have been on beach weekends, mountain weekend is an entirely different ordeal. For the majority, this is the first mountain weekend they will be attending. So, how should you prepare for the big weekend? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Depending on who your date is, you may be asked to make a cooler. Per tradition, dates create coolers for the boys that are creatively customized with things about them/things they like. Other times, if the boy already has a cooler, girls will decorate other items for their date. However, this item is first on the list, since it should be done well in advance.
First, the moment you get asked to a weekend, ask your date if he would like you to make a cooler. Do not wait on this, you don’t want to find out last minute he wanted a cooler. Next, go to Walmart, Target, or any other big store (preferably Walmart). The best coolers to buy that aren’t too expensive are the Igloo coolers. Unless you date specifies, size doesn’t necessarily matter, but be aware that the smaller the cooler, the less room you have to decorate. Also, I would advise getting coolers that do not have wheels on them, unless there are no other options. Additionally, you should also buy a lot of cheap brushes (multiple sizes too), acrylic paint (preferably matte finish), Painters brand paint pens, Primer (Krylon Color Master – Flat White), and Sealant (Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer and Krylon Color Master – Clear). I would also highly suggest buying a plastic sheet to put the cooler on top of, so paint doesn’t get everywhere. Most importantly, I would highly recommend either buying an electric hand sander or borrowing one from a friend. Sanding is one of the hardest parts of the cooler making process, but using an electric sander turns a 2+ hour job into a 30 minute one.
To start making the cooler, sand down all sides you are going to paint or design. Depending on the color of the cooler, you should sand the sides until it’s a light pink (red cooler) or a light blue (blue cooler). The touch of the surface should feel chalky and not rough. Next, in an outdoor space, spray the cooler with primer, from a distance. Make sure this is done from a distance, to prevent the primer from dripping and making marks. I would recommend coating the cooler in a layer of white paint afterward, just to patch it up. Next, plan out the designs for your cooler. Before doing the actual designs, decide on a base color for each side and paint the side that color. Then, if you are an actual artist, feel free to just freehand or sketch your designs onto the cooler. If you are like me and suck at art, try to find the images you want to include online and print them out (this includes text). Place the printed image on top of the area you want and trace it over in sharpie. This will hopefully leave you with an outline on the cooler you can either trace completely or paint in. Once you are done with your designing and painting process, allow the cooler to dry fully and spray on the Mod Podge sealant outdoors. Spray on about 2-3 layers and allow it to dry overnight. Do the same with the Krylon sealant. If you want your cooler to be more protected, spray on more sealant, but that is entirely up to you.
Clothes to Bring
Mountain weekends generally take place in late Fall (October/November), right as the weather starts to get colder. And the temperature on top of a mountain is going to be significantly colder than normal. Also, you are in the middle of nature, not a runway, so I would advise leaving nicer clothes at home. For day time, when it will be a bit warmer, bring lots of layers. Light sweaters and shirts are great options and won’t make you sweat under a jacket. You absolutely need to bring a warm jacket, as the temperature will drop at night. If you tend to feel a bit colder, jeans are a great option to wear the entire trip. If not jeans, thermal leggings are always an option. Unless there is a predicted rain storm, you should be fine with a good pair of sneakers or boots. At night, jeans, a warm shirt, and a jacket will be your best friend. While you may be living with people you know, most people will congregate at other houses, not always near yours. So, be prepared to dress warm for potential 10 minute walks. Pajamas wise, it depends on how warm your cabin will be, so bring leggings and shirt. Most likely, the house will be nice and warm, and you’ll be cozy in bed. The only special item you may want to bring is a bathing suit, as a lot of cabins will have hot tubs.
Food to Bring
While you may be near a town or area with restaurants and food, I would highly recommend bringing food on the trip. Really, the amount of food should be dependent on what you normally eat. Personally, I went light for breakfast and bought two yogurts with granola to eat. Other people bought pancake mix or cooked eggs for breakfast. It all depends on what you want. I would stick to simple food items, however, as space in the kitchen can be limited. Cheese, bread, tortillas, and even frozen food are good items to bring. For dinner, talk to people you know on the trip and try to collaborate on dinner. It’s a lot of fun getting to cook pasta and chicken with your friends and eating it together at a nice dinner table. And of course, bring snacks for both the car ride and the trip.
There are a variety of items everyone brings to mountain weekend, and some are more obvious than others. Along with clothes, it should be obvious to bring chargers, homework (if you plan on doing any), toiletries, etcetera. I would also bring a blanket and a towel, just in case the house does not have extras (which does happen). You also will need to bring your own shower toiletries, as those are also not provided. Additionally, water bottles and small flashlights will be useful to help carry things from house to house (as they often are far apart). Feel free to also bring other items to keep you busy over a dinner or a chill night in (e.g. card games or jenga), as sometimes it will be too cold to go out.
Before You Leave
Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have packed up everything you need and that you have gas in the car. Try to plan in advance what time you are leaving and who is in your car. Unless you have a class that interferes, it is better to leave earlier in the day as opposed to later (you don’t want to be driving at night). Also, plan ahead for meals along the road, as you probably will get hungry during the long drive. If you are driving or helping keep the driver alert, drink coffee or bring something to keep you alert. But of course, most importantly, have fun and be safe in the mountains!!