Saturday, 26 July 2008

AT: White Mountains

 The White Mountains posed a bit of a logistical problem as you are not allowed to wild camp there. Hikers must either stay in the luxurious huts or designated camp sites. Although the scenery is quite spectacular for AT standards as there are lots of views it is a very  demanding stretch aggrevated by the fact that you have to finish at a hut or campsite. I definitely did not like these restrictions but I must admit that the authorities have found a good solution for thruhikers: They do not have to make reservations for the often fully booked huts and they do not even have to pay the hefty fee these huts charge for food and accommodation. Instead they have to arrive in time to do a "chore" assigned to them by the hut wardens and in exchange get left over food and can sleep on the benches in the common room when everyone else has gone to bed. At campsites you can either pay a small fee or do a chore as well.

It is a very sensible system but I still could not wait to get out of the White Mountains. Why? The chores in the huts were usually quite simple: In my case I had to clean the freezer which was done in less than half an hour. And getting a huge amount of left over food (that has to be carried to the huts on foot by the wardens!) in exchange was a very profitable deal. But at night I had to wait till the last person went to bed until I could roll out my sleeping bag and sleep myself - only to be woken a couple of hours later by the first early risers. I mostly tried to stay at the very basic camp sites where the warden was either absent or told me he had no chore for me and let me stay for free!

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