What's the heaviest "luxury" item you've carried on a backpacking trip?

1:36 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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For me, it was probably a fast, large and heavy telephoto lens that weighed about 8 pounds. Second place might go to a full bottle of wine. There are probably items I'm forgetting at the moment. (Dutch oven, anyone?)

How 'bout you?

1:54 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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My coffee press and MSR filter pump. I used to always take them both, but after a recent trip that involved a lengthy uphill battle at the end that seemed to take months (a couple of hours in reality), I've relegated them both to the camping tote in the closet.

Anymore, I've started to consider a tent a luxury item. Bivy camping is not as luxurious, but I don't end up cussing my sleeping system on an uphill hike.

My parents look at my gear and scoff. They're old geezers now and tell me about lugging a cast iron skillet and a bottle of wine up Mt. Whitney when dad was at Claremont.

2:34 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Hummm...a 36 pack of beer and a 3L bottle of wine on a sled. Actually i was towing 2 sleds, one for the booze and one for the gear.

For backpacking, one time i carried a mini-disc player with huge headphones and a few extra discs. Section "O" of the PCT sucked big time and i tought i was going insane. The music helped a bit.

I also carried the nine iron of love for a couple hundred miles before passing it along to a fellow thru-hiker. I think it made it all the way to Canada.

These days i will sometimes carry a bamboo flute. It's light and sounds great in the hands of somebody that knows how to play it. This is the reason i only use it if i'm at least 10 miles from the nearest soul, untill i get better. It seems to attrack some animals too and the echo off the distant mountain ranges is awesome, something i'll never forget.

2:38 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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My children.

Okay, they're not a luxury, but either one is easily the heaviest single item I've ever carried.

3:14 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Good one Alicia! Can't wait to take my futur kids out in the bush.

5:00 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Okay, I guess maybe I should've said kids don't count! (Besides, like the statue at Boys' Town says--"He ain't heavy--he's my brother." I think that's supposed to apply a bit more broadly, even.)

Franc--Unless I miss my guess, you're carrying your half of your future kids out there now!

Nate--I'm sorry, but a tent is not a luxury item. Not in my book, anyway. Hats off to you and your bivy sack, but there are lots of advantages of tents I'm not willing to forgo so as to be able to ditch the weight. Try again!

And finally--the "nine iron of love"? I'm not sure I should even ask what that was all about. Starts to make me think of "pitching woo" with a pitching wedge, or just why a "driver of love" might be carried along, too. And what about ....oh, never mind.....

5:01 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Double bogey for the double entendre?

6:13 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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there's another nate here?!?!

Heaviest item: inflatable air mattress (queen size) with pump and 4 D batteries. Was the only way to convince a friend to join me on an overnight trip.

His bag: made him carry the liquor and the water (2 gallons).

7:14 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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For me its my Therm-A-Rest 2" self inflating sleeping pad. It makes it really nice if you have a bad back. it has a good insulation vale and is very comfortable.

7:25 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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I used to carry a view camera with tripod, several lenses, and a bunch of film holders. I don't consider that luxury, though. I have also carried a dutch oven into the backcountry a number of times - Lodge #10, cast iron (none of those wimpy aluminum ones that don't really work very well). Most of the time this was while I was Scoutmaster and wanted to do treats for the Scouts. Farthest from the trailhead was about 10 miles on a 3-day weekend. I had some of the older scouts carrying the fresh meat and veggies for the first night's dinner, with the second night being the old traditional apple cobbler.

Perry, tents are a luxury when you are a tarp camper.

8:42 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Hail to the tarp (and hammock) campers!

Perry,

you must have mind reading abilities! I can't find it right now but i have picture that depicts that situation. So let me rephrase the heaviest luxury i ever carried.

2 full sleds containing a 10x12 prospector tent, a wood stove, a load of fire wood and a bunch of fresh food. All this so my significant other could enjoy a night of winter camping in luxury. Even made her fresh bread on the stove in the morning. I must have had a couple hundred pounds.

Beleive it or not, she said the week-end sucked!! Can't wait to go camp with the kids....

As for the nine iron of love, it's part of thru-hiking culture to carry something ridiculously heavy from one end of the country to the other relying on multiple usually unwanting (and sometimes unaware :) carriers. The nine iron of love was found i believe around San Jacinto.

12:42 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Well, Bill, if you're gonna carry a Dutch oven, it better be cast iron. I'm drafting up a petition to outlaw aluminum Dutch ovens--they simply cannot do the job they're supposed to do.

Since I'm getting more involved with Scouts of late, the carrying of a Dutch oven has actually crossed my mind; mine is a Lodge #12; might get a slightly smaller one for backpacking--hah!

And, yes, I guess I'll grant that to a tarp camper (that genetic throwback crowd of misanthropes!) a tent is, I suppose, a luxury. But so are written language and fire, aren't they? [Okay, gang, just a joke, just a joke! But I'm still not giving up my tent.]

Franc--My attempts to convince my spouse of the beauty and wonder of the outdoors have been similarly (un)successful. At this point, I think I'd probably have to haul a diesel generator into the mountains and carry a tent with indoor plumbing to get her to try camping again.

10:30 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Yeesh... you guys make marriage sound like the death knell for a backpacker. Add it to my list of reasons to avoid the alter...

11:31 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Nate,

Don't let these misogynists put you off. Barb and I have been together for some 40+ years (lessee, doing some calculations, 43). Important thing is finding someone who is compatible in outlook and activities. We met through our college mountaineering club, did a courtship/trial by fire by doing a 50 or so mile trek through the Yosemite backcountry after Labor Day (after the crowds were gone, and saw very few people the whole time, on some days seeing no one but each other), plus long discussions of everything from financial practices to food preferences to (gasp!) politics and religion. We continue to do backcountry trips together and brought The Kid up in the outdoors. I suppose the computerized dating/matchmaker services try to do the same thing ("101 parameters of compatability!"), but there's nothing like spending a week in the wilderness hauling everything on your backs in challenging terrain to see how you do under stress. Some activities have been reduced since Barb had a couple of knee injuries while skiing, and she forbids me from doing certain activities (no more motorcycles, certain trips are out since she can no longer do them but really really wants to). But hiking up Kili and some other hiking peaks is still on the schedule, as are photosafaris (back to Africa, another trip to Alaska and the big furry guys, Galapagos, etc etc), once this housebuilding project gets completed.

Best thing about the backpacking is that it's cheaper than a lot of other possibilities for entertainment. You can get a lot of gear for the cost of a big screen home theater, and you can do a lot of mountain hikes in foreign lands for the cost of a trip to WallyWorld or (choke!) Lost Wages. Plus clothes for even winter backcountry treks is a lot cheaper than high fashion clothes and shoes.

Choose wisely!

11:46 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I thought people backpack to get AWAY from the house....

(at least that's why i figured fishing is so popular, yet so very very very very very boring)

then again i'm not married, nor ever plan on it.

12:32 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Wha--!?! Gasp, choke, sputter.... Fishing....boring??!!--Very, very, blah, blah, blah, at that?! Nate, please, please recant, before Greater Powers are summoned and you are forever consigned to the miseries of the Unenlightened! Remember, all the apostles were fishermen! Let me quote directly from a master:

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.

That comes, of course, from Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It. Need more be said? I think not, my friend, I think not. The rest is mere detail and quibbling. Yes, there are those who fish for lesser creatures than trout--I do, myself, at times, being too much sequestered in regions far removed from where trout are likely to be found. And many of those use other kinds of equipment, such as spin-casting rods and the like, which have less of the aura and religious feel of a good fly rod, but which are of holy origin nonetheless. Some of those fishermen even feel themselves compelled occasionally to use--here I admittedly weep--live bait. How the impaling of a worm or grasshopper on a barbed hook is supposed to bring one closer to God--the real aim of fishing, after all--I do not understand. But I try not to judge, recognizing that they are, at the very least, fishermen, and so deserving of my brotherly love and respect for that alone.

I cannot fathom what horrible tragedies of life must have befallen you to lead to this dismal place in which you no longer comprehend the beauty, majesty, and transcending power of the simple art of fishing.

If you are unsure of how to address this on your own, I suggest you immediately contact the nearest chapter of Trout Unlimited for help. And begin redeeming and preparing your soul by daily reading and study of Robert Behnke's Trout and Salmon of North America, beautifully illustrated by Joseph Tomelleri. There is always hope.

May God have mercy on us all.

As for the marriage thing, well, to each his own.

6:40 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Mouhahahahahahahaa!!

The fishing class here made me a born again fisherman i presume, and I can't wait to take my casting rod on the next hiking trip. I guess it will soon become the next "luxury" i pack.

Father Perry, show us the way!

8:31 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I guess by "luxury" you mean "stuff you can do without"...in that case, my luxury item goes with me on every hike - my trusty Sven-saw. It's only 11oz but I *could* do without it...we just have to have a campfire though and it makes very quick work of downed wood.

11:30 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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O _ O

 

I was expecting that kinda response from TroutHunter.

 

And I can't marry cause its not quite legal (sssshhhh). I'm one of the 'butch ones' that hide among the heteros out there.

11:32 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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do i get rebound points for being a scuba diver at least? I go lobster hunting if that counts!

12:03 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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HaHa!

Nice Perry. I would agree, I love fly fishing! Fly fishing is like bread for the soul, it is like Zen for the spirit. Then again...out fishing them with a 20.00 Zebco is like giving them the finger (just joking). I do both, and have a blast! Spin fishing in fast current requires a good understanding of hydraulics and how to weight your line to fish at the right depth given the speed of the water and such, it's not as simple as baiting a hook. Flyfishing requires a delicate touch that also takes time to master, and if your not tossing the right fly at the right time, you might as well poke yourself in the eye, and go to Captain D's.

Fishing is not boring unless you're doing it wrong (warning-opinion-warning) However I would agree that tossing a line in and waiting on the bobber to get yanked is not my idea of fishing fun. I do fish that way for Brim & Crappie however, but I much prefer wade fishing in fast moving cold mountain streams for trout. More on the subject tomorrow, it's late for me.

Nate, maybe we should go fishing sometimes. Also be sure to catch my trip report coming this weekend, went to the Hiwassee watershed and backpacked the John Muir trail up the Hiwassee River and ate what I caught. Cool photos!

Heaviest luxury item I ever carried would in fact be an iron skillet.

Did that years ago, wouldn't do it now of course. But thats what mom used to cook in and I had access to it and didn't know any better. We cooked fresh caught brim, fried okra, and home fries on our camping trip when I was in high school. Carried it in a used Army suplus rucksack with a metal X frame, torture I tell you!

12:30 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I usually only make it about 10 minutes before my fly line is hung in a tree or tied up in a big knot and I have to pull out my ugly stick and zebco.

12:38 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Give it (flyfishing) time....and the ugly stick is an excellent rod!

12:44 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Flyfishing netted me a big wad of line, a pissed off guy over on the bank, and 0 fish.

Busted out the 'ol ugly stick and VOILA!

12:45 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Well, Nate, can't say you and I are on the same road to happiness, so to speak, but, well, that's just the way it is, I guess. [BTW, I'm talking fishing still; I'm not quite sure what you were referring to otherwise.... ;-) ....] Can I just say that I didn't reckon on it being legal in Iowa before we'd see it all official-like down in Mardis Gras country?

Trouthunter--I must admit to having both used and enjoyed other methods of fishing, in addition to the Holy Fly Rod. There is a broad streak in me that agrees with the sentiment Maclean expressed later in that openiing chapter of his masterpiece:

If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him. So you too will have to approach the art Marine- and Presbyterian-style, and, if you have never picked up a fly rod before, you will soon find it factually and theologically true that man by nature is a damn mess.

Franc--I am merely a messenger, sent before, to proclaim the coming of a fisherman greater than I. I fish with nylon leader and tippet, and too often still find a tangled mess dangling from my rod. But he who comes after me fishes with fluorocarbon leader finer than frog's hair, and his line, ever straight, falls lightly to rest at a distance from the already drifting fly, heading inexorably into the feeding zone. I am not worthy to tie his knots. I am a voice, crying in the wilderness--What miserable, lying, sunuvabeech tree took my only #18 Blue-Winged Olive out of my box?

12:46 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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No, the other Nate. Dang, this is getting confusing....

12:47 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Nighty-night, Nate. And Nate.

10:44 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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i don't know if this really qualifies for the heaviest item i have carried backpacking. i once horse packed a tv camera and sound equipment into a wilderness area where the local pbs station did an interview with lou gould who was protesting any more logging in the area. if you see the interview there is a night time camp fire scene where you won't see a bottle of tequilla going around the circle.

i also horse packed a river raft and frame upstream for an enviromental education trip. the participants wore packs up the trail and then i packed their packs back down the trail when they went down the river in the raft.

the heaviest item i ever put on my backpack would be 125 lb hay bales on my old trailwise external frame. i found it easier to pack the bales out to the field than to use the wheelbarrow when the ground is soft. i don't think the horses felt the hay was a luxury item though.

11:13 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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lazya4--

I got a memo here from the horses--they said to tell you "Thanks."

11:28 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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lazya4 -

We had an HD videocam, professional size, with us on the Mt Vinson 40th Anniversary expedition. You can see it in this photo, taken at Vinson Base Camp. Tony actually hauled it all the way to the summit. But then, he was the official expedition cinematographer, so I guess it doesn't really qualify as a luxury item. You can see this photo in the Trailspace News section, a long way down the page (the News is growing to be quite huge - we need a searchable index to find things!)

1:07 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry, what's sad is that I am called "nate" because my mother & teachers growing up liked to yell at me (could never figure out why *lol*) so when they'd yell Nathan, about 3 or 4 of us would wonder who was in trouble, so I started going by Nate.

 

And don't worry about the marriage thing. Its even worse in my church as its not only "until death do you part" we add this wierd "eternity" thing in the mix, so considering every guy I know likes to fish/backpack cause it gets them away from the wifey for hours & days, that's one excuse I hope I never have to use!

 

Oh, last weekend, I saw a guy doing a day trip with 46 pounds of gear - all camera gear!!!

1:30 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I gotta be fair to my wife, though: I go out not to get away from her, but from the rest of the world. I wish she shared more of my enthusiasm for the outdoors, but at least she understands it, and is willing to work with me to seek a balance in activities, etc. It's this last--the willingness to put up with some stuff you might not quite see the point to, and to compromise on things which allow for it, that makes any close relationship doable, I think. Dang near an absolute necessity if you're not related by blood and gonna live under the same roof, IMO.

1:48 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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You can see this photo in the Trailspace News section, a long way down the page (the News is growing to be quite huge - we need a searchable index to find things!)

Noted and agreed upon.

9:09 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Let me think...oh yeah...

My girlfriend.... after she twisted her ankle on the way to Havasu Falls. That was a rough 1 3/4 miles.

Then I had to go back for the Packs.

Well that "luxury item" lasted a couple of years, but has been upgraded recently.

2:04 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Huh ? Why carry heavy items when llamas can be rented so cheaply ?

5:00 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I guess none of these count as true backpacking, but:

I have already confessed to packing a folding kayak into Madison Springs hut in the White Mounatins for the first kayak crossing of Star Lake, a little tarn all of about 100 feet across and 3 feet deep. That was with my wife -- an expedition Klepper with full accessories weighs over 100 lb., and the long parts make a seriously awkward load.

Another time when I was working on a USFS trail crew I hid a big watermelon in the bottom of my pack, packed it in 5 or 6 miles, and broke it out midweek on a nice hot afternoon, shared it with my co workers and a couple of surprised passing hikers-- our camp was hidden in the woods along a remote stretch of trail: "Hi! Want some watermelon?"

And then, doing trail work in New Zealand, I tied off an entire wheelbarrow to a pack frame and carried it 3 miles uphill to my work site -- actually easier than wheeling it up the rough trail.

Oh yeah, and then on a research project in the Adirondacks, we carried loads of lumber in lengths up to 16 feet up a steep path but only 1/4 mile or so to build platforms for our base camp, a Sears sheet-metal lawn shed kit, a propane powered RV refrigerator, a couple dozen heavy duty car batteries and chargers, lots more electronics and other equipment for the project and, last but nowhere near least, a 28 foot pneumatic personnel lift, carried up in pieces and reassembled at the site (we were working in the trees, mostly by climbing but there were branches we couldn't reach safely).

To make up for my sins, I spent about three weeks doing the John Muir and High Sierra trails in the Sierra Nevada without a stove or tent (had a tarp), fitting everything in or on a maybe 3000 cu in pack (North Face Wrapack, if anybody remembers those), with only two or three food resupplies. That's as light as I have ever gone.

BTW, for those of you with reluctant spouses and/or young children, I'll put in another plug for huts, where you can find them. My wife is actually an old hand at backpacking/camping, but we have come to appreciate the reduced loads and creature comforts we get using huts, and our kids are always enthusiastic about coming along, even on multiday tours with typically 20 km between huts. It's a different kind of experience, but makes it possible for families to get out and enjoy The Nature (as it's called here in Norway) even if you don't always get the solitude and simplicity you get with backpacking. For less hardy types, the comfort level is orders of magnitude better than tenting, especially in snow/bad weather. Depending on where and what kind of hut, you may not have to carry much more than your clothing, a hostel-type sleeping sheet, and a good book, and you can get a hot shower at the end of the day! A few huts here in Norway even have small rooms with double beds, typically a double-wide lower bunk, what I call a "second honeymoon suite", but if the hut isn't full you can claim the whole room to yourselves...

7:35 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Man i wish i lived in Norway! No running water in the huts here (Canada) and sometimes no wood stove either, just propane. But if you're good at fighting squirrels at night it sure is a lot better. The load of beer from the previous post was for a very succesful hut party.

Adding this to my places to go list..N-O-R-W-A-Y...there!

10:52 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I love the watermelon story. Wish I'd happened along when you were slicing it up!

And I agree with Franc--it sounds like Norway is a seriously wonderful place to hike.

12:47 p.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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There are several places in the US that have huts in the backcountry. In the Sierra, the Sierra Club has huts in the Lake Tahoe region, several being just off the PCT (Peter Grubb north of Castle Pass, Benson Hut between Sugar Bowl and Squaw, Bradley Hut, and Ludlow Hut). the Baldy Ski Hut and Keller Hut in Southern California. In Sequoia/Kings Canyon, there is the Pear Lake Ski Hut, and in Yosemite, there is the Ostrander Lake Ski Hut, plus in winter the Tuolumne Ski Hut.

In Colorado, the Tenth Mountain Division has an extensive chain of huts, mostly used for ski tours, but a couple of them quite luxurious.

Several places in the Rockies have privately run chains of yurts.

And in the New Hampshire Whites, there are huts run by the Appalachian Mountain Club (one of which I remember as being pretty cushy by back country standards).

Some of these are a fairly short hike in (Peter Grubb is 3.2 miles in winter on showshoes or skis, and a bit shorter from a USFS road in summer - with a propane stove and electric lights provided by a solar collector/battery, with a couple others in the Tahoe area even shorter distances).

In the Alps (European, that is), there are hundreds of huts and mountain hotels. Some are run by the local country's Alpine Club, with a discount to members (a couple nights in one pays for the membership, and most of the national clubs offer exchange privileges to other national clubs, including the American and Canadian Alpine Clubs). Many of the huts and mountain hotels are positively luxurious, serving excellent cuisine.

So if you have a spouse or significant other who is willing to hike a little and enjoy the scenery and fresh mountain air, you can get a "camping" experience that is nicer than staying at home. So the only thing you have to pack in is that 25 pounds of camera gear.

5:43 a.m. on April 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Re: Huts elsewhere in Europe, in 2006 my wife, daughters, and I did the Tour de Mont Blanc, 12 days starting in Chamonix and going around the whole Mt. Blanc massif through bits of Italy and Switzerland, and back to Chamonix. We stayed in a variety of huts, both private gites d'etappe and alpine club huts, some in valley villages, others in high places. We had great but HOT (especially after Norway) weather overall, and the scenery was stunning. The mountains are huge and steep, and the Alpine meadows (really a product of long term grazing practices) were so lush and green and diverse compared to Norway's barren uplands. Overall, however, Norwegian huts are much nicer: generally less crowded and much more comfortable. Many huts here are converted from old log farm buildings, often with turf roofs and a lot of old artwork and furniture that make them much more homey than any other huts I have visited. Here's a link to our web pages on the trip:

http://web.mac.com/rstrimbe/2006%3A_Summer_in_France/Chamonix.html

This will also lead you to lots of pages about our hiking and skiing adventures in Norway.

In addition to our family web site, we are working on a "commercial" web site that shares some of our knowledge about Norwegian mountains and huts:

http://www.norwayhut2hut.com/Home.html

I've plugged this here in the forums once before. We plan to try to get some ads on the site and generate a little side income, but for now it's commercial free. I guess this is getting pretty far off the original topic, but I just hope some of you will find it interesting/useful-

BTW, New Zealand also has an extensive hut system -- I ran a hut on the Milford Track for two summers in the late 70s. Two of the best summers of my life, hands down.

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