Day 21: High Mountain Hospitality

Gorham, NH to Carter Notch Hut – 15 Miles

Day one of the White Mountains was delightful.

The trail was well maintained and fun to walk on, so the miles flew by. The weather was perfect and the ridge tops offered views of the Presidential Range that lies ahead.

I arranged a Work For Stay at Carter Notch Hut, which was a hiker’s dream come true. It is a charming old stone hut maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, where vacationers can pay to stay. They allow thru hikers to eat the leftovers from dinner and camp on the floor of the dining hall for free, in exchange for an hour of chores.

The timing could not have been better because my hiker hunger suddenly kicked in about 24 hours ago. I ate a heaping plateful of barbeque pork, peas, home baked bread, and salad (Salad! While hiking!); a large bowl of chili with cornbread; several slices of coffee cake; and then an entire plate of nachos. I felt like a very content Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Aside from the one overly talkative hiker who tagged along with me all afternoon, I enjoyed some very pleasant company. The guests were friendly and the three college-age women running the hut seemed to genuinely enjoy spending their summer in the mountains.

The stars came out for the first time this trip because the sky is clear and we are near a clearing in the trees. Around ten we three thru hikers settled in for our slumber party in the hut, and the gentle breeze blowing through the open window helped air out the stench of rotting flesh coming from the chatty guy’s socks.

Keeping true to their slogan ‘high mountain hospitality,’ the ladies tell us they will wake us up with the sounds of Norah Jones and hot coffee percolating on the stove, before I leave this paradise and make my way down the trail toward the Presidentials.

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