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Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: AMC Huts

AMC's Lake of the Clouds hut, New Hampshire
AMC’s Lake of the Clouds hut, New Hampshire
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
Morning poetry at AMC's Lake of the Clouds hut, New Hampshire
Morning poetry at AMC’s Lake of the Clouds hut, New Hampshire

At 6:30 am at the Galehead Hut, I awoke to Kimball reading this poem,Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver. At 6:30 am at Zealand Falls, I rose to the sounds of banjo being played by Levi. Then there was guitar and sweet song at Mizpah Springs and the lovely sounds of Emily playing the violin in the hallway at Lakes of the Clouds. This is the way you wake up at theAMC Huts. No alarm, no Reveille, just music or verse.

Oh, by the way, Kimball, Levi, Emily and the rest of the amazing Croo team at the AMC Huts also pack in over 60 pounds of food and pack out over 60 pounds of garbage twice a week to trailheads that can be a long as 4.6 miles away if you happen to be working at Galehead. They make a scrumptious dinner of fresh baked bread, soup, salad, entrees like lasagna and stuffed shells, and heavenly desserts such as blondie brownies for up to 90 people if you happen to be staying at Lakes of the Clouds, the largest hut. Then they do it all over again at breakfast, when served oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, and bacon. They clean the bathrooms and ensure that all rooms are tidy. After dinner, they introduce themselves and answer questions like what’s for dessert? After breakfast, they perform zany antics in costume like the Saturday Night Live skit Hans and Frans (“We want to pump you up”) to ensure that you pack out all your garbage, fold your blankets properly on the bunk bed, and tip. You best tip the Croo after all the work they’ve done!
Want more? After breakfast at Zealand Falls, Levi presented young AJ with his Junior Naturalist badge for completing his workbook. But first he had to wear a faux-raccoon cap a la Daniel Boone, recite about 20 lines out loud on how he would be a steward of the land, and then throw that raccoon cap in the air like graduation day. After dinner at Lakes of the Clouds, naturalist Sarah took us on a 45-minute walk to see the diapensia, bog laurel, and bunchberry, alpine wildlflowers in bloom. Every morning, the Croo told us the weather and advised us on the best trails to make your ascent or descent based on the forecast.
More than 120 college students applied for the 12 available spots at the Croo this summer. They come to be part of a proud tradition, one that’s recorded in photographs and numerous books found in each hut’s library. If you have any misgivings about the next generation being slackers, lazy, staring at a screen all day, then hightail it to one of the huts to see these energetic and enthusiastic college kids in action. You’ll leave with a heady dose of optimism and a genuine appreciation for what the Croo does all summer. At Zealand Falls Hut, I met a man, Willie, who worked at that same hut in 1964, returning from his home of Fort Worth, Texas. Once part of the AMC Croo, it never leaves you.
steve    Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, andSierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.
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