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      Do you take a cooler?     

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Inmyelement
member (34)member
 
08/04/2020 09:24AM
In a different topic, someone inferred that those who take coolers are lesser campers as a result of taking a cooler. We just got back from our first trip with a cooler and will likely be bringing it on every trip in the future. We ate so much better than in the past. Are coolers common or too close to glamping?
 
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Jackfish
Moderator
 
08/04/2020 09:48AM
Who wants to carry it? Clumsy, awkward, heavy if you fill it full of stuff... no thank you. I guess it's something one might do if you don't have all the right gear, but it also depends on how far you're going. One short portage? No problem. More than that, you have a decision to make.

Look at buying (or renting) an insulated food pack or eating your perishable food early in your trip.
 
scramble4a5
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08/04/2020 10:04AM
No. We don’t want to carry it.
 
straighthairedcurly
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08/04/2020 10:13AM
I can honestly say that I will never carry a cooler over a portage in the BWCA. I love the meals we cook from homemade dehydrated foods, and feel zero need to lug fresh ingredients along. I rarely eat big chunks of meat at home so why would I lug them over a portage. Every trip report that shows a meal of steaks and potatoes, I feel gross, since they would be about my last choice for any meal. But to each their own. I will never judge anyone for bringing what makes them happy on trail as long as they are willing to carry it in and out (and don't clog up portages for the rest of us).

The only non-dehydrated, fresh foods we bring along are cheese and summer sausage for lunch and we don't bother to refrigerate them.
 
08/04/2020 10:22AM
Hard side coolers are fine on EP lakes but portaging is not what I'd do with one. But an insulated food pack can be quite do-able. Either method is still mostly a no go for me as I like to travel a lot, or at least get deep a day or 2 inside the BWCA.

butthead
 
OCDave
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08/04/2020 10:42AM
Your own trip into the wilderness can be what ever you'd like it to be. Just because it might not look like someone else's trip doesn't make you a lesser camper. It simply means your priorities are different.

I don't carry a cooler but, I do like to eat well when camping. I find meal planning without refridgeration to be an enjoyable challange and perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of backcountry camping. I do carry a Helinox camping chair. There is likely some guy that thinks "Real camping" requires sitting only on logs or rocks.

Do what makes ya happy. It would be best to avoid inviting criticism of your camping style if it is going to diminish that happiness.

 
08/04/2020 10:44AM
No, I have no need or desire to do that. I don't basecamp, I travel with two weeks food, so I do the opposite. But, do your own trip.
 
AmarilloJim
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08/04/2020 10:53AM
I don't bring a cooler
 
jewp
member (25)member
 
08/04/2020 11:06AM
We do. Yeti backpack coolers fit the kids perfectly. I wouldn't go without one. Would I carry a hard side cooler, no, but I wouldn't take an alaskan basecamping tent either -- doesn't mean I don't bring a tent. Sure, if you want to eat dehydrated meals, don't bring one. I enjoy bacon and eggs cooked over the fire for breakfast, we will always have a cooler. No different than any other gear, get the right gear and it works fine. I don't go up there to see if I can live on nuts, I know I can. I go up there because I enjoy it, and I enjoy a good fresh breakfast in the bw even more. We also bring nuts.
 
mgraber
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08/04/2020 11:11AM
Absolutely not, but we don't go up there to eat. We want to spend as little time and effort with food as humanly possible so as to have more time and energy to enjoy canoe country. Also, I truly enjoy the lightweight, super quick and easy food we do take as it is honestly delicious, nutricious , takes minimal preparation, and has minimal clean-up. If dinner for 4 took longer than 1 hour from the moment we decided to eat until all clean-up was done, we would never consider it. We love it up there too much to waste time and energy cooking, eating, and cleaning up. That being said, do what YOU enjoy, there are no rules, and at least on my part, absolutely no judgement. Oh yeah, we LOVE to cook and eat, we just do that at home.
 
unshavenman
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08/04/2020 11:22AM
I'm assuming we're talking hard sided coolers here. I think the issue with them is that they are bulky and don't lend themselves to being portaged easily. Also, as food gets eaten the cooler size remains unchanged and still relatively heavy. This is a non-issue if you are just going in a lake and base camping, but it's not something I would have wanted to lug on my trip in June when 16 portages were involved.
Most folks here who bring fresh food will use an insulated food pack like the CCS Deluxe Food Pack. . It's designed specifically for portaging and fitting well in a canoe, and as the pack empties of food, other items can be added to the food pack to lessen the weight of the other portage packs.
 
sylvesterii
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08/04/2020 11:37AM
The RTIC 30 Soft cooler fits great inside the CCS Deluxe Food Pack!
 
Savage Voyageur
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08/04/2020 11:51AM
On the trips with family members they want a cooler so it goes along. All others I leave it at home. If you want to haul it then by all means bring it. I do bring a small soft side cooler for Crawlers.
 
Inmyelement
member (34)member
 
08/04/2020 12:13PM
I'm not sensitive enough to get upset over anything on the internet. I just like seeing the different ways people do things. We all have to eat, and since I cannot catch a fish to save my life, eating what I catch is not an option.

We used an RTIC backpack cooler. We were able to single portage without any difficulty. Age and health are on our side so this bit of extra weight really wasn't on issue.
 
scotttimm
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08/04/2020 01:30PM
I've starting subbing in freeze dried veggies and fruit into "one-pot" meals that uses things like instant rice and mashed potatoes, and they go over well with everyone. I dehydrate shredded chicken and ground beef/venison for the proteins. I use a small, soft-sided lunch cooler that I pack with frozen steaks/hot dogs and cheeses for our cold stuff, and that fits into our food barrel. With a family of 5, we have to bring a lot of food, so all fresh doesn't work well for us in terms of weight...but our current strategy works well for us.
 
Nigal
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08/04/2020 01:58PM
Inmyelement: "In a different topic, someone inferred that those who take coolers are lesser campers as a result of taking a cooler. We just got back from our first trip with a cooler and will likely be bringing it on every trip in the future. We ate so much better than in the past. Are coolers common or too close to glamping? "

I have taken a 12 pack cooler in that fit the food pack perfect. A few frozen water bottles and vac sealed the meat. Ate like KINGS! Was it heavier than freeze dried? Of course. Anyone who looks down their nose at you for carrying a cooler has never had piri piri south african bbq game hens on day five of a week long trip.
 
Nigal
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08/04/2020 02:04PM
I’ve also carried a small collapsing six pack cooler that I carried frozen meats for the first three days in. Once emptied it packed flat. Good compromise. When I go solo it’s dehydrated all the way.
 
Northwoodsman
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08/04/2020 02:56PM
Nigal: "Inmyelement: "In a different topic, someone inferred that those who take coolers are lesser campers as a result of taking a cooler. We just got back from our first trip with a cooler and will likely be bringing it on every trip in the future. We ate so much better than in the past. Are coolers common or too close to glamping? "


I have taken a 12 pack cooler in that fit the food pack perfect. A few frozen water bottles and vac sealed the meat. Ate like KINGS! Was it heavier than freeze dried? Of course. Anyone who looks down their nose at you for carrying a cooler has never had piri piri south african bbq game hens on day five of a week long trip. "

What did you do with the bones?
 
Nigal
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08/04/2020 03:47PM
Northwoodsman: "Nigal: "Inmyelement: "In a different topic, someone inferred that those who take coolers are lesser campers as a result of taking a cooler. We just got back from our first trip with a cooler and will likely be bringing it on every trip in the future. We ate so much better than in the past. Are coolers common or too close to glamping? "



I have taken a 12 pack cooler in that fit the food pack perfect. A few frozen water bottles and vac sealed the meat. Ate like KINGS! Was it heavier than freeze dried? Of course. Anyone who looks down their nose at you for carrying a cooler has never had piri piri south african bbq game hens on day five of a week long trip. "

What did you do with the bones?"


Resealed in a double zip lock and packed out. Nothing gets burned or left behind.
 
PineKnot
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08/04/2020 04:38PM
Inmyelement: "I'm not sensitive enough to get upset over anything on the internet. I just like seeing the different ways people do things. We all have to eat, and since I cannot catch a fish to save my life, eating what I catch is not an option.


We used an RTIC backpack cooler. We were able to single portage without any difficulty. Age and health are on our side so this bit of extra weight really wasn't on issue."


It's taken me a long time to realize how to catch fish in canoe country (let alone how to cook them). 40 years later, well kinda simple. Really comes down to being on a lake with good fishing. If you'd like, shoot me an email and I'll give you my number. I'd like to help you out with catching fish. Fresh fish in canoe country is fantastic. Btw, I like your attitude and ability to carry a cooler...used to do that, but then age had other ideas....
 
Jaywalker
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08/04/2020 06:04PM
I’ve brought a cooler in the winter to keep my food from freezing and have a place to sit. Never brought one paddling and doubt ever will. My guess is 80-90% do not. Just a guess.
 
4keys
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08/04/2020 06:26PM
We do not. In the past we brought frozen steaks for the first night, vacuum packed and wrapped in newspaper etc., no cooler. We were usually pretty tired by the time dinner came on the first night, and honestly it was a hassle. This year we skipped the fresh meat and had one of my home dehydrated meals. Didn't miss the steak at all. Maybe because I still brought wine!
 
Stimpy
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08/04/2020 08:39PM
I guess we must not be very good at this canoe tripping thing, but we move daily, cover a lot of ground, and have fresh meat on day seven. Trip your own trip.
 
bwcadan
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08/04/2020 09:58PM
No way. Too old and not worth the weight.
 
gopher2307
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08/04/2020 10:25PM
Yeti backpack cooler...not the version shown above, but the soft one actually sold as a backpack. Last September it held ice for 3-4 days. For a short travel distance, base camp trip, it is worth it. It immediately throws out the potential of single portaging, though.

Will be doing the same for an EP 16 trip to agnes in September.
 
jewp
member (25)member
 
08/05/2020 08:19AM
gopher2307: "Yeti backpack cooler...not the version shown above, but the soft one actually sold as a backpack. Last September it held ice for 3-4 days. For a short travel distance, base camp trip, it is worth it. It immediately throws out the potential of single portaging, though.


Will be doing the same for an EP 16 trip to agnes in September."



You just need to bring one more mule...I mean kid...to carry it. About 10yrs old is perfect.
 
08/05/2020 08:23AM
Nigal: "Anyone who looks down their nose at you for carrying a cooler has never had piri piri south african bbq game hens on day five of a week long trip. "

South African BBQ? I believe you mean Braai !
 
08/05/2020 08:25AM
Recently took our first trip with any type of insulated container - a GG insulated food pack liner - added some dry ice to prepared frozen meals in there and stuff was frozen for 4 days during a very hot stretch (80's and sunny every day). Was nice, and we ate well.

But - that was a slow-moving family trip. Not going to do that for 2-man or solos where we are covering distance.
 
arm2008
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08/05/2020 08:38AM
Depending on size of cooler, bear "proofing" can be a challenge. I believe some coolers are bear resistant if locked with a padlock. I imagine they are on the heavy side.
 
treehorn
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08/05/2020 10:59AM
We have soft sided coolers that fit in the bear barrel for the stuff we want to keep cold. Put it in there with frozen water bottles and/or freeze packs. No big deal. It is heavy on the way in, but we eat very good, and it's empty on the way out!

As far as the old Coleman 2-handled hard-sided cooler we all grew up with...hard pass.
 
Nigal
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08/05/2020 11:11AM
sns: "Nigal: "Anyone who looks down their nose at you for carrying a cooler has never had piri piri south african bbq game hens on day five of a week long trip. "


South African BBQ? I believe you mean Braai !"


Braai is a bbq method. The piri piri is the Portuguese sauce.

Milk Street’s recipe is the best I’ve found.

https://jalapenosandanchovies.com/2019/06/18/milk-streets-piri-piri-chicken/#wprm-recipe-container-1169

 
Blatz
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08/05/2020 01:03PM
Once on my second trip with my wife and son. That was the last time I brought in a cooler
 
08/05/2020 03:42PM
Inmyelement: "In a different topic, someone inferred that those who take coolers are lesser campers as a result of taking a cooler. "

I think the forest service video does this too. They show someone bringing a hard sided cooler, hanging it in a tree and the contents falling out.

Probably a good idea to show to people who don't know what they are in for.

I haven't brought in a cooler, but bear proofing it would be my main concern. I could see bringing one on a basecamping trip. Probably something soft sided.
 
BearBurrito
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08/05/2020 04:29PM
I have not, nor will I ever bring a cooler. Too heavy.
 
Inmyelement
member (34)member
 
08/06/2020 07:56AM
PineKnot: "If you'd like, shoot me an email and I'll give you my number. I'd like to help you with catching fish. Fresh fish in canoe country is fantastic. Btw, I like your attitude and ability to carry a cooler... used to do that, but then age had other ideas...."
Thanks so much for the kind offer! My biggest issue currently is that we are limited to fishing from shore. I'm not quite brave enough to have two eight year olds fishing out of one canoe. Once we can upgrade to two canoes, I may take you up on that offer.
 
airmorse
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08/06/2020 08:28AM
Back in the day when we first started out we look a big red coleman hard sided cooler.

We were primarily base camping with minimal portages.

We were amazed at how tough that cooler was. We watched a bear one day go paw over paw hanging from one of the ropes that was used to suspended that cooler in the air. He never got any food for all his hard work...Those were/are tough handles.

I still have that cooler and think of the trips that it went on.
 
MikeinMpls
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08/06/2020 09:13AM
We never have and likely never will. But...if you can carry it in, and carry it out, go for it. Like others, meals are not the highlight our the day, and I'm ok eating for a week or two food that is different than I get at home.

At this point in my adventures, one-pot meals are excellent and filling. Freeze dried dinners have come a long way since the mid-80s, when the only choices seemed to be "turkey tetrazzini" and chili mac. I like eggs for breakfast, and the eggs mixes make a great scrambled dish. I know some bring up fresh eggs so they can have them sunny-side up, but that seems like a lot of work just to have the same protein in an alternate form.

Mike
 
nofish
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08/06/2020 09:43AM
The backpack coolers would certainly make it more doable. I think most people have the big hard sided coleman type coolers in mind when they say they'd never do it. Now days there are alot of good backpack type options that aren't much different then some of the insulated food packs others have mentioned.

If its a back pack type cooler that makes for easy carrying then its really just about the weight you want to carry.

Personally my food pack is a repurposed hiking pack that I had. The layout and pocket design just so happens to work well as a food pack. The main part of the pack is broken into 2 compartments that can be accessed from 2 different locations. I use one of the compartments as the cold food storage area. It fits a soft insulated bag where the cold stuff is kept with a frozen bottle of water or 2 and can also have additional reflectix added for more insulation. I usually bring enough cold food for the first day and the next morning and then I bring some other items that don't HAVE to be kept cold but might be a bit better if they are.
 
TuscaroraBorealis
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08/06/2020 09:48AM
treehorn: "We have soft sided coolers that fit in the bear barrel for the stuff we want to keep cold. Put it in there with frozen water bottles and/or freeze packs. No big deal. It is heavy on the way in, but we eat very good, and it's empty on the way out!

As far as the old Coleman 2-handled hard-sided cooler we all grew up with...hard pass."

Pretty much sums up my approach as well.
 
Heyfritty
member (15)member
 
08/06/2020 10:28AM
When I was a kid, we used to take motor trips into Basswood and Sag. We’d take 2-14 foot boats with 10 horse motors. We brought 2 of the old metal-sided/plastic bottom Coleman coolers. On our way in, the boats were loaded to the point that we couldn’t go full speed for fear of swamping. One day after fishing, we came back to camp only to find a bear that had rolled one of the coolers and gotten it to open. It was happily snacking on our butter. We sped to shore and my Grandpa jumped out of the boat and chased the bear. On his way he grabbed his hatchet, waving it as he ran! That image is seared in my mind as one of the funniest memories I have of the BWCA. The cooler ended up with a chunk slashed or bitten out of the plastic bottom. 45 years later we still take the “bear” cooler up to deer camp.(no bears were harmed during this incident)
 
halvorsonchristopher
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08/06/2020 10:53PM
No. minimalists mentality amongst all of my groups.
We still bring 1lb Ribeyes tho....
Frozen and air sealed. No cooler bag.
Usually eat them on night 2-3. Depending on air temps.
I bet we could eat them all night 4 or 5 if we put them in soft-sided cooler, and then place them in the CCS solo.
 
RunningFox
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08/06/2020 11:12PM
I always take a cooler. I have a BWJ insulated cooler (Kondos) back pack with a BWJ foam-insulated poly box that fits perfectly inside the pack. There is an adjustable lid inside the poly box that you push down so that you’re not cooling any more area than necessary. Works great and keeps food cold for several days, or longer. I also own a CCS solo-sized cooler back pack, and I insert a Rubbermaid hard-sided cooler inside that. I really wish the BWJ sold a similar poly box insert for a solo-sized cooler pack.

Perhaps off topic, but I also have a food saver and I re-package perishable items prior to freezing them. I believe vacuum sealing makes food last longer. With planning and care you can keep food cold for a week In June.

 
TRadam
member (13)member
 
09/09/2020 10:47PM
We have done two trips this year, the first with just a Bear Vault (BV) and the second with a BV and RTIC knockoff backpack cooler. Both my wife and I agreed that for a longer trip, having the cooler for fresh food for the first 3-4 few days was nice but for us, not critical. We find with two of us, we can get about 4 days of food in a BV. Add the cooler and we have 7 -8 days without feeling like we are going to run out of food. Supplement with fish and the timeline can get even longer. We added a lot of efficiency to the backpack cooler with an insulated reflective liner I made.

We deepfreeze quart sized apple juice containers for the top and bottom and fill in with frozen drinking water bottles as required. If you only go into the cooler when cooking, keep dead air space to a minimum (cut some reflective material to create layers) and you can bring lots of food options. You also get apple juice or Cold water to enjoy on the trip. Good for 4 days. Dry ice would add even more time.

We did a ton of research on methods to keep items in coolers frozen and from my recent experience building reflective liners should be on everyone’s to do list. Also, we now follow the rule of having a cooler only for beverages (Back at car camp) Sodas, Beer and ice only in a separate cooler, food in the other. All of our “hard coolers” are bear proof and they really hold ice well. Expensive but worth it to me.

We sold the RV and went back to tenting or sleeping in a cargo trailer. The only thing I missed was the fridge!
 
MuskyMike
member (33)member
 
09/13/2020 09:29AM
Absolutely. Yeti and RTIC back pack coolers with block ice. Porterhouses on the first night after double portaging and paddling your way 20 miles in are our tradition and worth their weight in gold. We have bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, and bag omelets everyday for breakfast, grill brats or something else for lunch, and have fresh fish every night. After 7-10 days in we always have ice for packing fish out as long as we keep cooler out of the sun as well.... I'd never carry a standard chest cooler. Too cumbersome, heavy, and a pain in the ass but back pack coolers make it sooooo easy.

I've done the dehydrated food thing.... We prefer to eat well and an extra trip across portages is very much worth it to my friends and I.
 
cofit
 
09/14/2020 12:18PM
Food? Some, but it takes up space for ice. Our group of 4 60+ have "evolved" to carrying a soft side cooler. Steaks the first night and summer sausage for a few days. Pre-cooked bacon and sausage for the morning with eggs transported under the canoe seat. Dehydrated, pre-cooked home meals plus some on-site preparation. Fish usually as an appetizer. All the food goes up in a tree and the cooler stays down. Thirty years of trips and no bears yet.

Half the time I think it's nuts, but then a bourbon on ice at the end of the day tends to make it all worthwhile. At least through about day 5. We basecamp sometimes but generally only have one layover day. I think the most nuts/most appreciated beverage might have been on Poohbah when the temperature was about 90.
 
shock
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09/15/2020 07:29AM
i ask my group , do you want to eat real good or just good , they all op for real good , meaning a good breakfast , burgers/brats/steak night,
you only have to carry a loaded cooler one-way , food will be gone for the trip out then stuff the cooler with tent ?> cargo bag ? other type items.
one year i brought in a pint of milk and we had bearnaise smothered Lake Trout and it was freak'n fantastic !!! you want to talk about a kettle full of chunked up lake trout disappearing ;) (pic from home)
 
ppine
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09/15/2020 01:07PM
I would not want to portage anything more than a soft sided cooler in a pack with fresh food for the first couple of days.

In the West we run big rivers and lakes with few portages. Sometimes we line boats so a cooler is a pretty normal thing to have on a canoe trip. On raft trips and drift boat trips we bring large coolers with blocks of ice and have fresh food and beer for a week.
 
mmrocker13
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09/19/2020 12:17PM
If i weren't portaging or were motor camping, sure, why not? Yay! Meat and cold bevvies and whatnot. But we're single portagers, and a cooler is a lot of excess schlepping (and we don't have anything to put in it...we even just keep our cheese unrefrigerated). So on our regular trips in, no we do not.

But YOU DO YOU. If you want to carry it, and you're not bringing in prohibited items, why would you let other people's opinions determine whether you bring something. (And by opinions, i mean them thinking you are glamping) Don't let anyone yuck your yum, dude. ;-)
 
ppine
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09/22/2020 02:37PM
I am fond of coolers in warm weather. I have taken a cooler on two backpacking trips. Once in a wheel barrow and once in a little red wagon. I knew the trail was good with few rocks. It was not that steep. It was hot and we were going to a lake with no one around.

Grilling steaks and drinking cold beer on a back packing trip is splendid, almost as good as steak and lobster at 9,800 feet in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. We brought dry ice and made ice for the bourbon. Chef prepared meal was the best I have ever had.
 
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