Work for stays at the AMC huts can really be a life saver in the right situation. By the time I made it to the Madison Hut, light rains and winds were building up as I continued above tree line.
The fog and clouds had built up so much that three people I knew got lost or stuck out there that night on the mountain.
One took a wrong trail and found themselves below tree line way to fast, on the wrong side of the mountain. Another managed to find a rocky spot large enough to sort of lay down with a rough tarp shelter, and the last chose to just sit on his pad against a cairn, all freakin night. All three experiences sounded increasingly awful.
I by far had the best case scenario that night. After 3 plates of enchiladas and half a pumpkin pie, I only had to scrub pots and pans. Though the new example had been set by a fellow hiker the night before, whom I would come to know much better in Maine, named The General. The retired vet knew some sort of magic to make old pans shine like new and reset the huts standard apparently. Thanks General.
Hikers doing work for stay don’t get a bunk, you can crash on the floor of the main area. I scooted two benches together and made a rough cot out of the situation.
I used the other benches to lay my stuff out to dry. The hut was scheduled to close in a few days for the winter and was running on the last of its supplies and going through closing duties.
Breakfast consisted of cold oat meal, sausage and cornbread. The coffee was hot at least. The morning chores only consisted of sweeping the whole place, an easy task and well worth it for unlimited cold food and a quick dry place to sleep.
As the three staff members played around taking some fun pics to close out their season, those other lost hikers rolled in with their rough night stories. I was slightly worried about them as the winds kicked up a bit fierce that night, but we’ve all handled wet and windy tough nights at this point. They were going to survive.
I had a lot of questions for the crew about their jobs. The three of them rotate duties through the week. All consumables get packed in and out, three trips a week by two of them, while the other stays behind and manages the hut and cooks all day. If I were a young person living in the area, without a doubt I would join the AMC system for a few seasons and experience that life, and would recommend to my kids to do the same. Many of them seem to filter into other opportunities like guiding hikes in Alaska.
I departed really late that morning to summit Mount Madison and make my way out of the Presidentials.
The summit offered no view and I wasn’t waiting around this time. I am SO done with this terrain. I’ve heard in about 3 miles of decent the trail becomes great again, shortly after reaching tree line.
Once I reached the Osgood tent site, I took a long celebration break. There was dirt under my feet, trees above my head and water flowing often again. It really made me happy. So happy that when I got back up to start hiking, I took off briskly down the wrong trail. It was about a mile and a half before I noticed… and I didn’t care.
Looking at the maps I actually found a short cut of blue trails I could put together to a road that would take me to my intended destination of Gorham, NH.
If I make there before 4:30 I can get my supply box from the post office. I just barely made it and I booked it hard down that road. Then I moved on to an incredible chicken parm sub and beers.
I’m just about to the border of Maine. I can’t believe it. I had fun reviewing the trip and reflecting on how far Georgia is from me now. I’ve never been north of New York before this journey and I find myself almost even with Ottawa!