The summit of Kinsman was totally in the clouds, without reward. Though nearly without wind, surprising.
It was a pretty wicked climb. At times it seemed the trail was routed right down streams and waterfalls on both sides. Many people opt for a local hostel to “slack pack” on Moosilauke and Kinsmans. A slack pack is when another outfit drives your pack around the other side and meets you with your gear.
Many used this system over Moosilauke, except they get driven to the north side and hike south so as to avoid a steep slippery decent on the north side with heavy packs. I didn’t bother, I’m going straight through these things as is. And honestly, it was tough but kind of over-hyped.
I visited my first Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut. There seems to be a growing resentment upon the thru-hiker community in regards to these hut systems. I’ll get into that later…
AMC Huts are all off the grid. The minimal power is provided by solar and propane flown in by helicopter. This hut was directly on the AT, most are not. Huts offer co-ed bunkrooms and washrooms with composing toilets. Bunkhouses are not heated and have no lighting. Electrical outlets are not available. They offer an all you can eat breakfast and dinner. For hikers you can buy the daily overpriced baked good special or a bowl of bland soup, both are $2-3 each. In a rugged and tough country with no resupply (short of going off trail and hitching many miles into a couple possible towns) these options can help extend the life of your dwindling food supply.
They basically cater to weekend hikers from New York, Boston, etc… with money. Bunks or rooms are $100-200 a night. They really profit off federal land. As a hiker, you can refill water and hang around for a break and use the restroom. If you time it right, just after breakfast (8-9am) or just before dinner (4-5pm) a couple lucky hikers can get a work for food or stay. Really, you are doing them a favor. They have to pack in and out everything and often have surplus. But they make you work about an hour for it. You can not setup tents around the hut areas.
Further, every shelter and even the tent sites are “owned” and maintained by the AMC system in the Whites and they ask you not to stealth camp anywhere. In order to camp or shelter, you have to sign up and pay for the thru-hiker pass program, then each campsite is $10/night. Bullshit.
I opted to not do any of that and make my own way through. That’s the way I prefer anyhow, though I did try the soup once. The staff at the first hut was a bit aloof towards me and it set the tone for my attitude towards the AMC right away anyhow.
However, in a few days, the hut system was going to really kind of save my ass in the Presidentials.