Trail shelters.

12:53 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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I see alot of cool pics of the various trail shelters community members post here at times. I am one of those who have used them in the past but it happens very rarely. I like tents personally. 

We have these here:

056.jpg

You can carry a tarp and attach it to points on the shelter and chimney to block out the elements at the entry points(each side of the chimney.) 

This can make these shelters quite "toasty" in the winter when combined with a fire.

I have seen 6 people in them at once. 4 is alot more comfortable.

As I stated above I rarely use them though. 

I started this thread because I figured there would be some interesting designs/pics out there... Not too mention the potential for some good stories. ;)

3:24 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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IMG_1080.jpg Here is a typical shelter in the Olympics region of  Washington.  Never have stayed in one but they are a nice place to get out of the rain.  We were soaked (nothing unusual in the Northwest) by the time we got to this shelter at Camp Handy on the Upper Dungeness Trail last fall.  We hung up our jackets to dry while we cooked lunch out of the downpour.

While I don't think they should be on every trail in every park I would be sad to see them disappear entirely.

3:56 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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NZ has hundreds of huts in the country-around 950. Some are fairly simple, while others are more like mini-hostels.

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-stay/

Most are owned by the DOC (Department of Conservation), but others are owned by hunting organizations or climbing clubs. There are guidebooks and maps, along with websites that show where they are, what kind they are and fees.

9:29 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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Didn't take pictures of any shelters the last time I was up on the AT. There are some nice ones. We mostly stayed in tents, although the last night we used a shelter just because I thought the Scouts should have at least one memory of that. 

To be honest, we were even more impressed by some of the new latrines we saw. Top notch! Shelter is one thing, but a good latrine is a true gift.

9:40 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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Brerarnold said:

To be honest, we were even more impressed by some of the new latrines we saw. Top notch! Shelter is one thing, but a good latrine is a true gift.

Ahh yes, the "facilities."

These are what we have on the LHHT(male/female:)

LHHT-January-2012-facilities.jpg

11:37 p.m. on February 19, 2012 (EST)
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I think it is a good thing to have huts and shelters in the backcountry. IMO it will lead to more people daring to venture into the nature. Here in Norway we also have a lot of huts and shelters, and BigRed has previously allowed me to link to his infopage concerning the Norwegian hut system so here it is http://norwayhut2hut.com/Home.html 

The most remarkable for foreigners are the selfserviced huts. These are huts that in addition to being fully equipped with kitchen utilities, beds, linens aso also has a depot of dried/canned food. Many of these are even unlocked! You see all huts on this map http://ut.no/kart but this is only the huts that are operated by the DNT, our trekking organization. There is about 450 DNT huts in the country. All DNT huts are opened with just one universal key.

In my county Nordland we have for example about 50 DNT huts. In addition we have about 50 open and free to use huts run by others. To top it all we even have about 50 huts run by different JFF's (JFF = a club for hunters and fishermen). I even have celebrated New Years eve the last two years in different JFF huts. Very nice! None of these are shown on the map above, neither the open and free huts also.

It is said that todays generation is lazier than the previous, less active, more obese, aso. To counter this trend I think that good huts and shelters will be a cheap measure. Not all have the money or will to use tents. In my country you then just use the DNT or some of the other huts and still may go out and enjoy the nature. What could be better?

 

12:40 a.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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{troll suit on...} Gosh that sounds nice, Otto. I very much enjoy your perspective. As a person who tries to be conscious of demographic trends as they apply to public land management, hearing about Norway's public-use hut system from a first-hand user gives me much hope regarding the United States' ability to employ a similar system.

I can't help but think that, were the US to try to plan a similar hut system on such a comprehensive scale, the hut's whose construction were not impeded by "lack of funding" would be saddled with a adjacent parking lot, and a two-lane paved road leading to it from the nearest highway. I wonder how many of them would be free to use? I wonder how many would require reservations for use? I wonder how many would be open year-round?

Then again, when I consider the knowledge I have about current and past litigation regarding what is so often viewed as some sort of "neglect" to a back-country hut by the public land management charged to maintain it, I think the time I spend "hoping" might be more wisely spent learning to become a better Realist. I get the feeling that many individuals within these public land management agencies would like nothing more than to wake up one day and find that all of the current huts/cabins have been burnt to the ground...

I'm fighting the good fight though, just like you, Otto. Keep on keepin' on! Shine on you crazy diamond!

10:45 a.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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While America may not have a hut system as extensive as Norway's there are "huts."  Here in Washington there are the rustic huts like the ones I posted above and there are a number of private ones as well.  (I wonder if it is due to the strong Norwegian influence in Seattle?)  Near Mt. Rainier there is a series of more developed huts maintained by the Tahoma Assoc(I think that is their name.)  Tahoma is the native name for Mount Rainier.  

They seem to be mainly used in the winter for cross country sking.  I've checked out their website and the costs are reasonable and the huts look very nice.  There are also another of series of huts located in near the Methow Valley which is just over the mountains on the eastern side of the state near the Canadian border.  I've also noticed when traveling to different states some old ranger stations are open to rent.  When I was up at Glacier last summer there was at least one forest service cabin I saw that was open to rent.  You could drive to it on a dirt road but it was right next to the North Fork of the Flathead River and within minutes you were into some pretty remote country for hiking etc.  

Finally, there is the AT hut system.  I've never been to one but they provide another option.    

  

11:02 a.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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Ok, this must be an issue on a lot of peoples minds because they are sick on winter.  The Seattle times has an article about the 200 plus cabins in AK owned by the forest service which can be rented.

2:39 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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pillowthread said:

I can't help but think that, were the US to try to plan a similar hut system on such a comprehensive scale, the hut's whose construction were not impeded by "lack of funding" would be saddled with a adjacent parking lot, and a two-lane paved road leading to it from the nearest highway. I wonder how many of them would be free to use? I wonder how many would require reservations for use? I wonder how many would be open year-round?

 DNT huts are not free -- there is a fee even for the "unserviced" huts that provide bedding and cooking facilities only, but not food as in the self-service huts Otto mentioned.  At current exchange rates the basic fee for a bed and use of facilities including a kitchen wood for heating is $35-40 for members (more for non-members, worth it to join if you're using huts for more than 4 or 5 days), not cheap but still a good deal by Norwegian standards. This is not government money, as far as I know the DNT and other touring associations are self-sustaining based on membership and hut fees. In fact, most huts are built and maintained by "dugnad" -- volunteer labor.

Most unserviced and self-service collect fees on honor system, you just put cash in an envelope and drop it in a steel box in the hut. To get in you usually have to have a standard key that opens most of the huts in the country -- you pay a deposit to get one, but I've had mine for 20 years now. Clean up is also honor system, and although there are a few slobs there are at least enough people that will clean after them, so the huts tend not to get run down over time as I have seen in many of the huts and shelters in the White Mtns. in NH, some of which are gone now because they got too run down. Norwegian huts are usually comfy, much more so than those in NZ and the Alps that I have used or even the full service AMC huts in the whites with their wooden benches and 40 person bunk rooms. The best are old seter (summer farm) houses with some of the original furnishings, art work, etc.

Some huts are accessible by road, at least in summer. THis year DNT will be reopening a hut called Snøheim (snow-home) at the base of a 2000m peak called Snøhetta. It was closed for many years because the area around it was used as a military firing range! There is a road going into it that you could drive to within a few km of the hut/mountain if you just checked in at a military office. But now, after much back-and-forth, it looks like it will be gated but there will be a van or bus into the hut so it will still be possible to get to Snøhetta without a day on each side just to get to and from the hut.

ALthough you can reserve a place in full-serve huts (usually three-night minimum), it's usually not necessary, and it is a basic rule that nobody should ever be turned away, now matter how crowded the hut is. Norwegian mountain weather can be pretty foul, so there's no way you could just put somebody out.

Maybe best of all, except in a few heavy use areas like Jotunheimen, most huts don't get used all that much, so it's not unusual to have a hut to yourself, and they are rarely overcrowded. I think they're kind of a national treasure!

I have to agree the US seems a long way from doing something like this right now, it's a whole system that has evolved over time and requires a certain amount of good will and cooperation.Maybe someday!

3:46 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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Thank you for adding your perspective, BigRed; as an ex-pat (I did read your profile correctly, no?) and an avid backpacker you are in a unique place to compare and contrast the two systems; thank you!

And a big thanks to Ricky-P as well, for starting this thread!

3:59 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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pillowthread said:

And a big thanks to Ricky-P as well, for starting this thread!

You're quite welcome.

I thought this could be an interesting thread. Wasn't quite sure where it was gonna go in regards to discussion, etc but nevertheless I have found this quite interesting. 

Thanks for participating in the discussion. ;)

6:43 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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This is the Darlington shelter on the Appalachian Trial. There is even another bathroom building nearby. Thanks!!
11.jpg

10:16 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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Olympic National Park once had the most extensive cabin and shelter system in America. Many were built by the three C's. Most of those have been torn down and I find I am somewhat ambivalent about their loss. Many were in disrepair and huts of any sort tend to concentrate use which can be a real problem in fragile alpine environments. If they can maintained well, I think that they can be a good thing.

In the Yukon, and less so in the NWT and Nunavut, there are many cabins that are usually left open. Some are newer, but many are quite old. I have stayed in a number in poor weather. Again they have to be maintained to be any use. If they are not maintained, they are little more than trash piles and rodent dens.

If they can be regularly maintained, hut systems do allow more people out in the woods, especially in winter.

12:05 a.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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kayakingdog said:

This is the Darlington shelter on the Appalachian Trial. There is even another bathroom building nearby. Thanks!!
11.jpg

 Luxury

3:14 a.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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Here are a few shots from one of my favorites, Gammelsetra in Sunndalsfjellet, not too far from Trondheim

At Christmas time, mid-afternoon. The winter hut is converted from an old, low cow barn, in summer it would be gloomy but in winter it's very cozy.

Gammelsetra.jpg

Gammelsetra is an old summer farm so it's really a collection of four or five turf-roofed buildings, three of which have sleeping rooms, cooking facilities etc., others for wood storage, outhouse an whatnot. Fenced off to keep the sheep out of the yard.
Gammelsetra-view.jpg

The barn/winter hut on the right, farmhouse/summer hut in the middle, and a little one-roomer for dogs and their owners on the left.
Gammelsetra-summer.jpg

The dog hut. The sign says "For the dog and its owner(s)"

Eldhuset.jpg

A substandard doorway.
Gammelsetra-doorway.jpg

Writing in the guest book. Dogs not allowed in the main hut.
Gammelsetra-interior.jpg
By way of contrast, here's the cushy interior at Vangshaugen, a full-service hut that was once an English lord's hunting and fishing "camp", a day's walk from Gammelsetra.
Vangshaugen.jpg

Lots more where these came from... and here's an old photo gallery from the summer trip in this area.

12:06 a.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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As I mentioned earlier, shelters that are maintained can be a boon. Those that aren't can be an eyesore. Here are two from the Finlay River trip in September.
finlay2011-047.jpg
finlay2011-119.jpg

12:38 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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The Randolph Mountaineering Club maintains some shelters and cabins in the White Mountains, on/near Mt. Adams.


Gray-Knob-1.jpg

Gray Knob is winterized but not heated.  pretty dark inside, small windows.  Sleeps 15; around 4500 feet.  inside, it has a few tables and benches, a shelf around one wall that usually gets used for cooking, and a large loft where people sleep.  it also has quarters and a cooking area for the caretakers, who rotate but are there year-round. 

 


crag.jpg

Crag Camp (photographed from a distance) is about a half mile walk away.  not winterized, big windows and some floor grates that allow outside air flow.  great views of King Ravine.  sleeps 20.  really nice and airy inside, better sitting space than Gray Knob.  sleeping is in bunk rooms, similar to some of the AMC huts in the White Mountains.

 


IMG_1093.jpg

The Perch (above) is a 3 sided lean-to at a slightly lower (4300 feet) elevation.  From experience it is pretty exposed to the wind sometimes.  some winters, i have seen it almost completely filled up with snow.   (there are also four solid wood tent platforms near the Perch - you aren't allowed to camp within a quarter mile of these shelters otherwise). 

the Log Cabin (not pictured) is at 3200 feet on Lowe's Path and is 4 sided with an open door.  i find it kind of dank inside due to the lack of windows.   

1:11 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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SNOW !!!!!

Okay, I had to get that out of my system. 

I'm really digging the photos, as well as the info. 

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing everyone. 

3:26 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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the white mountains usually have at least some snow this time of year, but this year has been pretty weak in the snow department.  the summit of Mt. Washington may have about 2 feet of snow as a base right now. 

those photos were taken a few years ago when snow was much more plentiful. 

11:46 p.m. on February 22, 2012 (EST)
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I had to read my own previous post to see if I had written so that it may be misunderstood, but it was not so. The hut system run by DNT is something you pay for using. BigRed gave you the prices in his area. But in my area they are more moderate, 16 to 20 USD approx. The prices are found in the map I linked to. If you point to a hut and click on it, then select <Les mer om...> and on the infopage you will find <Priser>. DNT is really an umbrella organisation, it consists of different local TF's (TF = trekking organisation) each with their "own" huts and activities.

Callahan if you want to se a luxury hut, then check the plans that are for the newest hut in my county, Rabothytta in Okstindane. I'm looking forward to using that one! But one of the most charming huts in my area is the Argalad hut. This year it is 100 years old! So the hut system is something that has taken years to build.

Otto

12:48 a.m. on February 23, 2012 (EST)
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When I thru-hike the LHHT I end up taking a $4(USD) hit per night at the shelter sites. You can also reserve a shelter for up to a party of 4 at no additional cost.

Camping on trail here is a no go(although a storm caused me to hunker down in Jan.)

You can only camp at the designated shelter sites. I am actually going to become a "ridge runner" here as soon as my leg heals so I can give a little back to a trail that has given me so much.

10:23 a.m. on February 23, 2012 (EST)
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Leadbelly -- Fond memories of Gray Knob and Crag Camp -- both look to have been seriously upgraded since I was last there. They were getting a little run down so it's great to see them looked after. Even back then they were a reasonable approximation of a Norwegian turisthytte.

Otto -- Rabothytta looks exciting! With the big window it reminds me a little of the stylish new Vilreinsenter (wild reindeer center -- for observation, not overnight stay)  along the Dovrefjell road, although I haven't visited there yet. I've been wanting to get to Okstindane, it's not really that far from Trondheim. I also really enjoyed visiting Tåkeheim (Home of the Fog) and Helgelandsbukken in your area a few years ago.

9:29 p.m. on February 23, 2012 (EST)
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Yes Rabothytta will be exciting BigRed, there will be more info in Fjell og Vidde when it is close to opening. For now they have just put up a small hut to serve as a shelter for those that will build the hut. This workers hut is also open for hikers

I saw the pics you had taken on Tåkeheimen. Nice place and nice pics.

10:44 a.m. on February 26, 2012 (EST)
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Randolph Mountaineering club tore down and replaced gray knob and crag camp in '89 and '93, respectively.  i didn't include pictures from inside, but they are both very nice inside.  a welcome alternative to spending nights feeling like your tent is going to blow down or take off.

i didn't mention the huts maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club in new hampshire's white mountains.  eight of them.  they feel less like backcountry due to the amount of traffic they get, but they are a great intro to hiking in that area. 

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