SMILE, SMILE, SMILE
We took the Bil Gilbert Pack Up Your Troubles (July 17) with us—torn out of the magazine to save weight—to read during our bivouac at 7,600 feet as part of a north-side summit attempt on Mount Hood last weekend. Maybe we appreciated it especially because we are former equipment freaks, but we laughed so hard we almost collapsed.
Bil Gilbert's piece was one of the worst I have ever seen in your magazine. It may have been written to warn tenderfoot hikers about carrying too much, but in the end it turned into a grand cut-up of experienced and intermediate hikers, the latter of which I consider myself to be. I also put a lot of faith in camp equipment stores, because in all the times I have bought equipment I have never been steered wrong by descriptions or fancy talk about how good a product was and then had it turn out to be a lemon. Maybe Mr. Gilbert should take another look at camping and hiking before he writes another article for you.
Pomfret Center, Conn.
When I read Mr. Gilbert's article on backpacking, I was horrified at the realization that my wife and I, on a recent trip to the Tetons, had blatantly violated so many of his rules for backpacking.
We had brought: 1) a tent, 2) down sleeping bags, 3) cooking apparatus, 4) cold-weather gear, 5) a change of clothes. We also: 1) kept reasonably clean, 2) kept the cooking gear reasonably clean, 3) ate decent food, 4) did not enter the woods "with a stoical attitude and in a mood of resignation."
Yet, it seemed like we had such an enjoyable time of it.
Where did we go wrong?
EDWARD A. GRANT
No doubt Mr. Gilbert's article will open the door to overwhelming indignation from my fellow backpackers. One can live for some time on the trail—eating well, keeping clean and not being miserable—all with a 35-pound pack.
I suspect Mr. Gilbert is a rank amateur at packing if he has not heard of waterproof tents, less than three pounds in weight, miniature superlightweight stoves or lightweight, tasty freeze-dried foods. We experienced campers do not enter the woods with "a stoical attitude and in a mood of resignation." Nor do we make wood fires or generally ruin the environment.
Mr. Gilbert is the kind of camper that we backpackers resent.
W. C. SWAIN
Bil Gilbert hits the nail on the head. In California stores start displaying their camping wares in early spring, so to Gilbert's rules I would add at least one more: go late. The High-Camp stores and High Campers themselves sell all the glory of a nice three-day hike at 9,000 feet (or higher) in the spring. What they leave out is that in the Sierras you are guaranteed a snow-covered trail and campsite at least until June. And as the snow runs off, the mosquitoes take over. Add to that the high-running streams and it is easy to see why so many are discouraged.