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I flew out to Manchester, New Hampshire on October 10th for an REI Hut-to-Hut trip in the White Mountain National Forest.  The plan was to meet on Thursday the 11th around 5 p.m. at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch.  I had plenty of time that morning to visit family and enjoy the fall colors.  I arrived a few hours early so I checked in and toured the grounds.

AMC Highland Center

It’s a neat three-story lodge with a big dining area, a library, an entertainment area, equipment room, meeting rooms, a small gift shop, showers, and game room.  My room had a queen bed and a bunk bed.  My inner child hoped that my roommates, who hadn’t arrived yet, would let me take the top bunk bed.

My room for the first night

Fall colors in Carter Notch

Around 5:30 p.m. our guides for the trip, Mitra and Camille, met the group in the main living room.  There were a total of 11 and we had traveled from all over the world: California, Wisconsin, the Boston area, Costa Rica, Argentina, and New Jersey.  After introductions we gathered with the other lodge guests at 6 p.m. for a family style dinner.  So far this reminded me of 6th grade camp and the week-long YMCA summer camps my mother would send us to in the mountains of San Diego.  The food was hearty and delicious with options for vegetarians: quinoa soup, garden salad, homemade whole wheat bread, grilled corn salad, roasted potatoes, and cabbage stuffed with lentils.  Dessert was pecan pie, but I declined since pecan pie is too sweet for me.  After dinner, the group met in the game room to go over the itinerary, weather, and gear.  What’s neat is that if you forget to bring something you can always borrow from the gear room.  Weather played a major role in this trip.  There was snow and ice which the guides did not expect.  Snow usually comes around Thanksgiving.  After our meeting I went back to my room and for about an hour I packed and unpacked and debated what I should/shouldn’t bring.  Hand warmers were a must, and definitely my sleeping bag even though the huts provide wool sheets.  After a busy day, I climbed to the top bunk and remembered to enjoy the comforts of a warm room before a 2-night stay at unheated huts in 20-40 degree weather.

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