Southern Maine & The White Mountains of New Hampshire
As we hiked through Maine, so many of the NoBo’s we passed warned us about southern Maine. The phrase, ‘everyone talks about how hard the Whites are, but no one mentions southern Maine’ was said to us countless times. It’s true. Southern Maine kicked our butts. So did the Whites, but the views were killer and it was one of my favorite sections so far.
Much of the weather through the Presidentials was rainy so we didn’t get a ton of views. We had great views leading up to them though so we were able to see them from a distance as we hiked towards them. Especially Mount Washington. MW is part of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the highest peak in the NE USA. The mountain is known for its erratic weather and the highest recorded wind speed not associated with a hurricane was clocked here at 231 MPH.
As expected, the hike to MW was a long hard strenuous hike with so-so weather. We didn’t have a lot of time at the top because we were in a hurry to get down to the Lake of the Clouds hut to try to get a spot in the ‘Dungeon’ for the night. The Appalachian Mountain Club run a series of huts through the Whites. For the most part thru-hikers don’t tend to stay in the huts because they cost upwards of $100-$150 a night for a bunk in a shared room. Bedding isn’t provided and there aren’t showers or laundry…just the bunk. Breakfast and dinner are included but that’s steep for most thru-hikers. Section/day hikers utilize the huts for the most part.
Croo members have to hike the supplies for the hut meals in and the packs they use to do this are old school. The wooden frames are pictured below. Larger items are dropped in by helicopter, like the bundle of logs pictured below and the propane tanks for the kitchen. We were told each helicopter run is $16k…which explains the high rate to stay at the huts.
At Lake of the Clouds hut, there is what is known as the ‘dungeon’ which is a emergency cold weather bunk room under the kitchen. Thru-hikers can sleep here on a first come first serve basis for free. There are six bunks and it really does have a dungeon feel, but we were super grateful to be able to stay here. We even slept two to a bunk because there were more hikers than bunks. At first we didn’t think we had a spot because all the bunks were taken. When we went to speak to the hut Croo they were telling us about where we could go put our tent up about a half a mile down the mountain, which we had chanced happening, but were still dreading having to hike on and put up the tent in the dark while we were exhausted, chilled and hungry. Luckily a couple of other thru-hikers already set up in the bunk overheard and offered to double up and so we did the same and shared a bunk. Super thankful for those hikers!
Our bunk was the top bunk and our faces weren’t too far from the ceiling. Pretty interesting tumbling in to the bunk too! Cozy evening for all of us. In the morning we swept the floor of the dining room upstairs after the paying guests had breakfast, which was considered a ‘work for stay’ by the Croo and we were paid with leftover oatmeal, scrambled eggs and pancake muffins. Not too shabby for some hungry hikers. And the sunset we were gifted as we arrived at the hut was insane. Absolutely majestic.
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