You can’t have huts without trails. Surprisingly there is no communication at a national level in USA between the huts and trails communities. Next month a conversation will begin at the International Trails Symposium (ITS).
The ITS is a rich mix of hikers, operators of many of the major trail systems in the world, federal and state land managers, and people interested in all aspects of trail planning, building, and operations. It turns out most of these folks don’t know much about hut systems, but they are curious to learn more about accommodation systems for long-distance human-powered travelers.
For me, attending the 2015 Symposium in Portland, OR was a real kick and a huge learning experience. Meeting the folks who operate the major trail systems of the USA and the world, and talking with folks who are planning and building new trails of all kinds was really inspiring.
I’ll be attending again next month and want you to know what is planned. At the International Trails Symposium in Dayton, OH, May 7-10, there will be hundreds of talks, panels, hikes, and networking opportunities. And there will be three programs related to huts:
Hut operators and land managers: an emerging community of practice? Monday, May 8, 7-8 AM.
An informal gathering of huts, trails and land management folks to discuss matters of common interest and to brainstorm about cohering a community of interest around huts and trails. We will explore what land managers have learned through their many years of experience with permitting hut systems, discuss how the permitting process might be improved based on the experience gained by operators and agencies over the past few decades, and trade ideas about the formation of a community of practice among hut folks nationally. This conversation may help get the ball rolling on framing a higher level set of conversations about the future of huts on public lands in the USA.
Planning and operating hut systems: a practical checklist. Presented by Joe Dadey (Adirondack Hamlets to Huts) and Sam Demas (h2h), Monday, May 8, 2:30 – 3 PM
What lessons have we learned about planning and operating backcountry hut systems? Learn from research on US hut systems based on the field experience of folks operating systems of huts, cabins, tents or yurts for hiking, biking or skiing. Based on discussion with hut operators and land management community, we will present a U.S. perspective on topics such as: site selection and hut design, working with local communities and land management officials, business models, safety and insurance, waste and gray water management, logistics for provision of supplies, levels of amenities offered, and user policies.
Food and Shelter Systems on Global Trails: Huts, Yurts, Cabins, Hostels, Inns, etc. Presented by Sam Demas, Wednesday, May 10, 7 – 8 AM.
Enjoy an in-depth look at the many creative ways different nations provide food and shelter for long distance walkers, skiers, and bikers. This pictorial tour ranging from shelters on the AT, to backcountry ski yurts/cabins in the Rockies, to hut systems in Europe and New Zealand, to hostels, B&B’s, and bed barns in the UK, to tent-to-tent, cave-to-cave, and temple-to-temple, etc. – will examine differing cultural responses to the needs of long distance human-powered travelers.
This overview of global accommodations systems will look at finance, operational challenges, design and construction, business models, environmental impacts, users, and global trends. We will conclude with a moderated audience discussion about the varieties, challenges and opportunities of accommodation systems on trails for connecting people, promoting cross-cultural understanding, and supporting trail communities. Participants will receive a printed resource guide to take home to aid in following up on ideas presented, and link to an assessment survey.
Looking forward to seeing some of you there! — Sam Demas