How to Prepare for Two Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips, Back to Back: The Tetons, Yellowstone, and the #OmniGames

I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of this on both trips!
This weekend, I'm headed out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to rendezvous with Heather, Will, Jon and a handful of others to spend a week between Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. They're two parks I've never been to, but visiting both is on my bucket list, and to have the chance to go in winter is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We'll spend four days based in Victor, Idaho cross country skiing, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and more. Then, it's off to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park for the remainder of the trip.

Three days after I get back from our adventure in the Tetons and Yellowstone, I'm off to Utah for what's shaping up to be another incredible trip with Columbia Sportswear's #OmniTen program. Though both trips involve outdoor adventure, they couldn't be more different. So, how does one prepare for two completely different back-to-back trips?

Plan Out the Logistics as Best You Can (Tetons/Yellowstone)...

Traveling with Heather and Will is always a dream come true, as I learned last year when a group of us met in Park City, Utah for a mini-#OmniTen reunion. Will had all of the details solidified, the cabin rented, meals planned, and all of the transportation logistics taken care of in advance. We had an incredible week skiing and exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Utah, and I couldn't have asked for a better crew to travel with. (I'm looking at you, Heidi, Jon, and Steve!). Now, I'm joining Heather, Will, Jon and a handful of others to travel west again. When a six-page spreadsheet, complete with a daily itinerary full of fun winter activities and meal plan, made its way to my inbox via Will earlier this week, the organizer/analyzer in me jumped for joy.

Sometimes, you've just got to sit back, welcome
adventure into your life, and enjoy the view!

...but Be Prepared to Go With The Flow! (#OmniGames) 

For the #OmniGames, however, the story is exactly the opposite of my trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone. After being chosen as part of Columbia Sportswear's inaugural #OmniTen, I thought our incredible trip to Sedona, Havasupai, and the release of Omni-Freeze Zero was the pinnacle of our #OmniTen experience. Since that inaugural season, Columbia's #OmniTen program has evolved and they are now on their fourth season of gear testing and epic adventures.

Earlier this year, all seasons received emails asking us to block January 7-11, 2014 on our calendars for the #OmniGames and to have our passports ready. Since then, we've all received varying degrees of information about what's involved, where we're going, and what we'll be doing. All I know is I'll be flying to Salt Lake City, that I'll get to rendezvous with my inaugural season and folks from other #OmniTen seasons, and that we're in for quite an adventure!

Though we're all sure Columbia's got all of the logistics worked out, they're not telling any of us what they are. So as great as it is to have a week in the Tetons and Yellowstone planned to a "T," it's also a blast to think I'll be headed to Utah three days later without a clue as to what's going on, or why they've asked us to have our passports ready! (Read more about the #OmniGames from Heather, Heidi, Aleya and Katie.)

Pick an Awesome Group to Travel With.

As much as trips are all about going to new places, to places you've been and love, and everything in between, to me, the people you travel with are as important as the destination. For the Tetons/Yellowstone portion of the trip, it'll be an early pre-#OmniGames reunion with Heather and Jon as well as a chance to see Will and meet a new group of folks as passionate about playing outside as I am. Though some of our group has experience in Yellowstone and the Tetons, they're both brand new destinations to me, and I absolutely can't wait to see what both parks hold for those brave enough to visit in winter.

Though I know my entire crew from the inaugural #OmniTen season well, I'm ecstatic to meet the crews from the other three seasons. The idea of having nearly 40 people to spend three days in Utah with, some of whom are old friends, it just about the best group to travel with that I can think of. We might not have any idea what we're getting ourselves into for the #OmniGames, but we know we're going to have a blast together.

Sometimes, when you go with the flow, you get to travel with awesome people like these people.
Taken on the #Omniten trip to Havasupai!

Make a Gear List and Give Yourself Time to Pack.

Part of the spreadsheet from Will for the Tetons/Yellowstone trip that made my organizer heart flutter involved a comprehensive list of gear and apparel to bring and all of our meals for the week. Though I spent almost two years living in Alaska, my intimate familiarity with temperatures far below zero has since decreased after seven years in Philadelphia. The last thing I want to do is to forget something essential to keep me warm. Things like several pairs of thick socks, hand warmers, my balaclava, a neck gaiter, mittens with liner gloves and more are absolute necessities. I've set aside most of the day before I leave to get ready and get last minute additions to my personal gear list.

For the #OminGames, again, the story's a little different. Though I'm expecting another email or two with respect to logistics and what to bring, I'm guessing the Columbia team isn't going to tell us much more than they already have! We were asked to provide our height, weight and preferred ski length, but in terms of other gear, I'm happily clueless about what we'll need. I'll have two days after the Tetons/Yellowstone trip to get ready for the #OminGames, so despite the stress that normally comes with having no clue as to what's going on, it's nice not to have to worry!

Aside from these tips, what other advice would you give me in preparation for these adventures? If you've been to Yellowstone or the Tetons in winter, what are your absolute must-visit spots? What do you think Columbia's up to with the #OmniGames? Leave a comment!

And if you want to keep up with the entire #OmniTen crew and the #OmniGames happenings, use both hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. We'll be posting all sorts of pictures and related fun!