[at-l] White Mountains query

Richard Calkins racalkins at msn.com
Wed Apr 11 15:42:01 CDT 2012

What rockdancer said!
During my '05 hike, I realized just after Mount Moosilauke that I was going to hate the entire state of New Hampshire if I didn't slow my hike down to ten miles a day (or less) -- at least through the Whites.  When hit my first hut, and realized the virtues of the "bottomless bowl of soup",  it became almost too easy to slow down.  Frankly, I became a total "hut slut" -- stopping at nearly every one!  The rainy weather helped me to rationalize the process, and the fact that my credit card was still good made it possible.  (Join the AMC ASAP; the member rates for hut stays are discounted!)  Like you, I felt I should allow my younger, less financially well off, compatriots to compete for the limited number of "work for stay" opportunities.  That also let me depart first thing in the morning instead of doing chores after the guests had eaten and departed.  I also used the radio phone system to arrange my next night's reservations.  I went through there the last week of August, so it was pretty much peak season.  I don't know if I was just lucky that there was space for me each night, or if that would still hold these days, but my experience suggests that it would be difficult to be sure which hut I'd actually make it to even just a few days in advance.  What I do know is that the Whites were probably the most awesome part of the entire trip (and probably the toughest, but life is just filled with such tradeoffs!).  In addition to the incredible scenery, the experienced I had in the huts made that section especially memorable.  
With luck, it will work out the same way for me this year, as I plan to resume my injury-aborted 2010 hike at Port Clinton on July 1, so I hope to be passing through the Whites again this summer at roughly the same time.  If you're going this year, maybe I'll see you out there.  Best of luck, 
AT GA->ME '05

From: rockdancer97 at comcast.net
To: jacko_1956 at hotmail.com; at-l at backcountry.net
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 12:12:22 -0400
Subject: Re: [at-l] White Mountains query

You can book a reservation starting today. I just visited www.outdoors.org/lodging/rates/ and the stay at Lakes of the “Crowds” is $114 for a non-member, mid-week. The huts are very popular so soon, very soon, nearly every hut will be booked for every bunk for the months of July & August. However, many of those reservations won’t be filled when the day comes – people get sick, they overbooked not knowing where they would be, large groups don’t have the numbers they thought, etc. So, every morning each hut gets an update by radio telling them how many to expect for that day and it is almost never the number they thought it would be. This is also true for the campsites & shelters that have caretakers in the Whites. ($8 fee for 2012). They also receive the morning radio call with updates. (I was a guest caretaker for the Ethan Pond Shelter a few years ago so I got to the man the radio for one morning, fun!)
That said it might make sense to make a reservation when you are a week or so away from entering the Whites. By then you’ll know your approximate schedule & if you get in (through cancellations) you can adjust your hiking to fit the schedule. But frankly I wouldn’t do it. Instead I would show up at the hut (about 2 – 3 PM) and offer to pay for your stay. 
Chances are you will get in. If you want a bit more security you can employ the radio message system to this extent:
(use this as an example) About 8 AM you walk into Lonesome Lake Hut & take advantage of the left over breakfast deal. It’s usually a great amount of food for only a buck or two, so ask! Let the hutmaster or Croo know that you are heading to the Hut you are interested in & ask them to place your name on the list for that night. You’ll probably be heading to Greenleaf. Next morning at Greenleaf, before you head out, ask the hutmaster to put your name in at the next Hut, perhaps Zealand. This way the Hutmaster at Greenleaf (or Zealand) knows they have a paying customer heading their way & it won’t be as necessary to arrive as early as 2-3 PM. You can show up later but dinner is served at 6 PM sharp.
More info:
The huts are a kids & family experience so go there with that in mind. Once they (the other customers) know you’ve hiked all the way from Georgia you’ll get a bunch of questions & it can be a fun Q&A session. You will likely be the most experienced hiker any of them has ever met. After all, they are staying in a sheltered, food-provided place for a bunch of reasons. They don’t have to worry about food or shelter during their stay in the Whites. It’s also what makes the job of the Croo so difficult. These customers need a lot of handholding & reassuring.
Every night the Croo conducts a talk in keeping with their mission to make a ‘green experience’ and to provide education about the mountain environment for the clients. These mandates are put on the AMC by the US Forest Service as part of their 2000 agreement. Sometimes, AT thru-hikers have conducted these talks as their “work-for-stay” activity. You might just want to offer this to the Croo instead of paying for your stay. The Croo gets tired of the same talk night after night (they rotate the task, add in some “dress-up” to make it fun…) You could talk about your reasons for doing the trail or just tell them what life is like on the trail day-after-day. Round out the session with some Q & A. 
Hope that helps, RockDancer

From: at-l-bounces at backcountry.net [mailto:at-l-bounces at backcountry.net] On Behalf Of Jack Vanderbijl
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 7:23 AM
To: at-l at backcountry.net
Subject: [at-l] White Mountains query

I have read a multitude of books and journals on hiking the AT and all generally discuss in detail getting "work for stay" in the AMC huts through the Whites and staying in the "dungeon" or similar.

How feasible is it to actually book and stay in the huts like the "civilians"?

I realise that there would be a need to book ahead of time but just how far ahead?

I expect that while I am not lavish with funds that at least a couple of nights I can afford to stay in the "top of town".  At 55 now and 56 when I get there (assuming I get there) I really don't feel that I want to sweep floors or wash dishes when someone else really wants the opportunity.  I'm not proud (I currently take soiled linen out of nursing homes as part of my job so I'm familiar with dirty jobs), I just don't feel that's a part of the experience I really want to share if I don't have to.
Is it possible that about 100-200 miles before getting to the Whites I could predict a date that I will get to the huts and make a booking?

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