Tuesday, September 3, 2013

9/2: Carter Notch Hut, 1872.7

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven't put up a post in a while. There isn't much service in the White Mountains, and I've been so tired at night that I don't have the energy to type a post up! Past thru hikers told me that by the time I get to the White Mountains, I will have done 80% of the trail but only have put in 20% of the effort. And honest to God, they were not kidding. These mountains are steep, rocky, and difficult. Fortunately when the weather is nice all that work is completely worth it, because the scenery up here is spectacular! Below are a few pictures from our day on Franconia Ridge, one of the most epic parts of the whole trail. Doesn't it look straight out of The Lord Of The Ring movies? Unfortunately, the weather has not been on our side lately. As a matter of fact, we have missed some awesome views because of extreme fog for the past week :(. We didn't see anything but straight white views and extreme wind the whole day that we climbed Mt. Washington. The wind was blowing so hard at the summit that you could actually lean against it and it would keep you from falling. I don't feel too bad about missing Washington though. The mountain is famous for literally having the worst weather in the world, and they are very proud of that fact. A statistic at their small mountain top museum (yeah...they have a museum up there! And a huge dining room and post office and all kinds of stuff! I got a chili bread bowl which was amazing after climbing all day in the disgusting weather) that the summit is fogged in over 60% of the year. Mt. Washington is also famous for the Earth's hifgest wind speed, a wooping 231 MPH! Insane! But anyway, let me tell you about my awesome day today! First I need to give you some background info though. Sorry guys, guess this will be a long post.

So the White Mountains are a little different than the rest of the trail. This is because the whole area is controlled by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). The Appalachian trail borrows trail from the AMC through this area, which isn't good for a poor thru hiker such as myself due to the fact that all the AMC campsites have a fee. Because of this I have renamed them the Appalachian Money Collectors. I mean seriously...you're going to give thru hikers free places to tent for 1850 miles and then all of a sudden expect us to be cool with a fee? I don't think so. So thru hikers stealth camp through the Whites. In addition to the camp sites the AMC also runs these things called huts. The word hut is really a bit misleading though. They're better described as giant backcountry Ritz Carltons that serve their paying customers (100 bucks a bunk for one night in these huts!) a really yummy dinner and breakfast the next morning. They honestly are just massive mountain hotels and are extremely nice and big inside. The AMC offers a peace offering to thru hikers by allowing us to do work in exchange for a place to stay in the dining room and also leftover dinner. There are 7 huts in the Whites and each has a different attitude on thru hikers, depending on which college kid is working the hut at the time. Some have been really nice and some have been straight awful. I'm going to tell you a story about my best hut experience yet which just happened tonight.

I walk in to the last hut of the Whites and immediately notice that it is much older and smaller than the other 6 huts. I also notice that there are no customers at the hut, which is extremely unusual this close to dinner. The crew, made up of all college kids, didn't seem too worried about anything; they were all in the crew room taking naps. I immediately knew that this was going to be a good Work for Stay. After a little while one of them gets up and informs us that they only have 2 reservations for the night, and that they doubted they were going to show up since the weather was so bad today. I doubted they would show up too - the weather really was awful. Around dinner time the Hut Master, Luke of all names, starts breaking out of ton of leftovers and bringing them over to our table! They really like feeding leftovers to thru hikers; if no one eats it, they have to pack it out back down the mountain. Luke brought out a giant loaf of bread, salad, chicken and potato soup, and stuffed shells! We got to eat with forks and knives and plates and got to sit at a table like real people and literally eat until we couldn't eat anymore. You have no idea how human it makes you feel to drink out of an actual cup instead of a Powerade bottle or Nalgene. At one point Luke looks at us with a smirk on his face and says, "If I keep bringing out food, will you guys eat it?" He's smirking because he is eyeing the damage we have done to the stuffed shells in a very short amount of time. We all nod our heads with guilty grins across our faces. Chatting with the hut crew was a lot of fun. All of the guys working at this particular hut are all seasoned vets that have been working in the White Mountains for years. You can tell it too because they know the area like he back of their hand. In their downtime they do a ton of exploring and adventuring. For instance, Luke and Anthony were telling us about this huge labyrinth of caves that they discovered about 200 yards from the hut! They've been doing down there for several weeks now exploring a little more everyday and mapping out the caves. Now what a cool freaking summer job for a college kid! Hang out in the Whites and go exploring and caving all the time? Sounds like a dream come true! They went on to say that they usually take thru hikers down caving with them, but the rain was too bad today for us to go :(. Going caving in the Whites would be so awesome! Maybe the rain will met up by morning.

The paying guests did eventually arrive about an hour late, but since there were only 2 of them, Luke let us pick out of our own bunk room with mattresses and pillows and blankets and everything! I am living the high life tonight sitting under a roof listening to the rain come down. Yep, today was a pretty awesome day. :)


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