Hansel and Gretel have now visited every hut with the exception of Greenleaf. Some they actually spent the night, others they just stopped in for a visit with the crew or got some food. The hut system is fairly straightforward and you received some details on the structure in a previous post, but we can learn a little bit more how it works now.
Basically, there is one Hut Master. Under him (or her though I suppose it would be a Hut Mistress if it was a female. Sounds a little scandalous. Anyway, we are getting too technical already) is the Assistant Hut Master. Then comes the Crew. There are typically 5-8 crew members. It is their job to clean, cook, bring food in, pack out the trash (any garbage that they produce has to be brought back to civilization), and do search and rescue missions when necessary. As a general rule, the staff at the huts are awesome. They are usually good-natured, interesting, energetic people and often very friendly toward thru-hikers and
Staying at one of the huts can be more than $100 per night and as part of your stay, you get a bed/bunk, dinner and breakfast. If you are thru-hiker, 100 bucks can be pretty steep so the crew works out a deal. Thru-hikers can do a work-for-stay. If they arrive by 5 or 6pm, they are given little jobs like sweeping the floor or doing the dishes. It's generally about 2 hours worth of work. In return, they can sleep on the dinning room floor and they get all the left over food when the guests are finished eating. If there are extra bunks, sometimes they are even allowed to stay in a bed.
You already know that Hansel and Gretel missed the work-for-stay at Galehead, but they still worked out a deal and only had to pay $10 for the night. They were "official" guests at three of the huts. "Dad hooked us up big time," Hansel professed. They stayed at Madison, Mitzpah and Carter Notch Hut.
At Madison Hut Hansel and Gretel made friends with the Hut Master, George. He was completely funny and goofy and had them laughing for at least two hours that night. There is some question as to whether or not he was flirting with Gretel, but in general, he was just a great guy. He also seemed to be a rather humble fellow, but Hansel and Gretel got the sense that he had done some pretty wild and adventurous things. For example, he did the "White Mountains Hut Traverse." This is a challenge in which a hiker must touch each of the 8 huts in less than 24 hours. Now we thought the Maryland Challenge was bad. The Hut Traverse is an "ultra-gnarly 54-mile route" climbing up and down a number of steep peaks. It's a trip that should really take 3-4 days, but where's the fun in that?? In any case, George has apparently taken on this challenge.
At one point in their conversation, George started playing with Hansel's bandana. It's a very special bandana because it doubles as a map of the Appalachian Trail. George took it upon himself to introduce the wormhole principal. This is a concept discussed in physics that represents a hypothetical "shortcut" through spacetime. George found their current location on Hansels mapdana with his finger, then located their end point, Mt. Katahdin with is other finger. As he slowing moved his two fingers toward one other, squishing the mapdana, he concluded that Hansel and Gretel were actually already on top of Mt. Katahdin. Geez wormhole principal, where were you 2 months ago! This whole thru-hiking thing could have been so much simpler!
Happy trails and happy physics!
*Also, some new photos have been coming in that have gone into older posts. Be sure to check back incase you missed something. Click on the links to see pictures from The Inn at Long Trail and the VT/NH boarder!
A view of the White Mountains above Pinkham Notch