Travel | Explore the Appalachian Mountain Club's Huts
Inside the hut, Ursula and I sit at a wooden table still new and shiny and blonde. I marvel at the light and the cathedral ceiling–so much airier than in my own days working on the AMC trail crew back in the 1980s–and the magnificent view sweeping out over the krummholz and off to the distant northern reaches of the national forest, which hasn’t changed at all.
We sit with hutmaster George Heinrichs, left, recently graduated from Middlebury College and already a veteran of six seasons working in the huts. He has likely covered more miles than any of the 60 other young people working in the huts this summer. On a large fold-out map of the White Mountains, he has systematically traced with a black felt-tipped marker every trail he’s walked; south of Route 2 there’s hardly a trail not blackened in.
He describes his favorite approaches to Madison Spring Hut. Gulfside Trail from Lakes of the Clouds Hut: “Classic alpine hike, seven miles, all above treeline. From the 10-foot cairn at Thunderstorm Junction it’s almost paved in stone and you can really fly.” Osgood Trail on the east side: “Continuation of the Appalachian Trail, rocky, exposed, but gorgeous views.” Madison Gulf Trail: “Upper part is wicked steep, with giant boulders, and you could easily get lost in bad weather–an awesome trail.”
He glances out the window, and an uncommon sight interrupts our conversation: two very fit women trail-running out of the treeline toward the hut. They stride through the door, not noticeably breathing hard, for water and advice: Where else in the Whites should they train over the next few days in preparation for a cross-Rockies trail race later in the month?
George pulls open his map and gives them an expert’s answer, a hutmaster’s answer, from a subset of the subset of the organization that wrote the book on high-mountain walking in New England.
High Huts of the White Mountains: 2nd Edition by William Reifsnyder (Appalachian Mountain Club, 1994) is one of the best guides we know to this region. To learn more about the Appalachian Mountain Club, go to: outdoors.org