It was early morning. The urge within me burning. Log book pages turning.
The huts on the Presi Traverse. Which hut was this again?
The huts sleep from twenty to one hundred twenty, depending. Plus the Croo of three to six.
This was the Madison Springs Hut. It’s one of the smaller huts. This one sleeps about forty. Some hike in here on the Airline. Some are hiking the Presi Traverse. Some are thruhikers, lucky to find ‘work for stay’. The work is usually cleaning the tables, or washing the dishes. They get a free night stay. (It cost us $70 each to sleep in a bunk.) The Croo usually allows three thruhikers to stay each night. Others ‘stealth camp’ – set up their tent off the trail. Some follow the rules, and hike a mile off the AT, and camp in legal areas. The ‘work for stay’ hikers sleep on their sleeping pads in the Main Room. It can be a Pyrrhic choice. They can’t sleep until most others have gone to bed. They get a much later star than they are used to in the morning, having to perform their chores. They do get free food, both breakfast and dinner.
There were thirty-seven people here this morning. The Quebeçois and his daughter. A few others we had met on the trail. A Croo of four, and three ‘work for stay’ hikers. Wake up call is at 6. Breakfast is served at 7. Food at the huts is never fancy (sometimes it is pretty bad!). All of the food is carried in by the Croo from a trailhead. All of the garbage is carried out by the Croo. The menu: Blueberry pancakes with syrup, turkey bacon, oatmeal, with brown sugar, and other toppings, dry cereal with reconstituted milk (real milk is perishable, and very heavy!), juice, coffee, tea…
The surroundings? We’re at a spring, on the AT, between Mount Adams and Mount Madison. The scenery is spectacular! The trail is very tough, here. But we haven’t gotten to the trail yet. We were in a bunkroom. Everyone here has a backpack, a pair of boots, one or more hiking sticks. This is a bunkroom. The only place to store the impedimenta necessary for survival in the Whites, is around the perimeter of the room. There are benches. There are pegs in the wall. If you arrive early enough, you can find a good place to stow your gear. Late arrivers pile theirs on top, sometimes.
Thirty-three people mill about (depending on their wake-up time). Medicine, toothpaste, fresh clothes, if available. Fill the water bottle, and bladder. Other necessary early-morning endeavors. Pack, repack the backpack. You want to get as early a start as you can. At 7, breakfast is served. As mentioned, the food is plentiful and nourishing, though seldom great tasting.
Then comes the skit. The Croo puts on a skit. I have no idea why the Croo feels the need to put on a skit. It seems to be tradition. It’s stupid. Two subjects are always covered: The correct way to fold the blanket/s on your bunk, and the need to tip the Croo. One plot involved a tall male college student playing the part of a female, and a short female college student playing the part of the male villain. When s/he folds his blanket properly, carries out his garbage, and tips the Croo, s/he is permitted to leave. These are a horrible waste of time, and an insult to one’s sensibilities!
The skit over, thirty-three people hike off to their next destination. Since we are northbounding the Presi Traverse, most people are headed our way. Most of them pass us during the day. This is an especially tough section of trail (for us, at least). We are even passed by one or two hikers who had stayed at the previous hut the night before. Most we meet again at the next hut: Joe Dodge Hut at Pinkham Notch.
© Paul (AHikingDude@aol.com)