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The best things in life really are free.

April 04, 2017

Generally when people say something like “the best things in life are free,” they’re talking about the simpler things in life — like quality time with family and friends or a nice stroll around the park. They don’t generally mean things like a free vacation rental.

But members of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska can take up residence in seven huts throughout Alaskan mountain ranges for free. (Membership to the club costs $20 annually for an individual or $25 for a family.)

The seven huts are located throughout the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains at varying altitudes. Members can choose to set up camp in the lodges overnight or just use them as a resting stop on a mountaineering trip.

The most popular of the huts is the Mint Hut, a picturesque red cabin at a base camp of the Talkeetna Mountains. It was built in 1971 and it often used by travelers because it’s fairly easy to access. The hut is located at the headwaters of the Little Susitna River, a half-mile from Mint Glacier.

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The hut can sleep up to eight people at a time — although guests should be warned that they won’t have luxurious amenities. There is no bathroom — only an outhouse affectionately referred to as “Darth Vader” — and water must be collected from a nearby creek and stored in a large pot.

Reservations for the hut are not required. Space is first come, first served. More information is available from the Mountaineering Club.

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