Each staff member who works at Pemi for the summer gets a certain amount of time off, one period of which is a “27″ or a 27 hour period in which he or she can do whatever they want outside of or inside camp. It is strongly encouraged for staff members to “recharge our batteries” and basically chill out. However, this year, Dan Reed, Bridgid Ruf, Sean Munck and I decided not to heed the warning. In fact, we didn’t heed any warnings at all.
We all got together one day and decided that for our “27″ we would drive to the Presidential Range in the White Mountains about an hour and forty-five minutes away from camp and hike to the Madison Springs Hut for the night. One heck of a trip later, we made it to the hut and proceeded to have one of the best experiences of the summer together. This was no easy hike, and it was not at all what I expected, but we all got through it together, without an injury, without complaints, and most importantly of all, with tons of laughter. Seriously. Who would think that climbing up on all four appendages with backpacks on in the cold rain complete with marble-sized hail and soaked boots, shorts and shirts would be fun? Apparently, we do.
The night was completely different though. Once we arrived, we had a fantastic dinner of glazed ham, peas, rice, a fresh salad, and homemade carrot cake. We played Scrabble up until 9pm, looking out the window at a fantastic sunset after a day of rain and fog. One of the hut workers told us AMC Hut ghost stories for a half hour or so, and then we hit the bed like rocks from the sky. We were exhausted.
The next morning, we woke up to one of the hut workers singing a lovely song, and a home cooked meal of pumpkin pancakes, mountain rich oatmeal, dried fruit and juice. It was exquisite. Who ever said that hiking in the woods wasn’t a first-class experience!
We hiked up to the 5300′ summit of Mount Madison the next morning. It has been a long time since I climbed a mountain, and I will assure you that I was enormously out of shape for this hike. But there are few more amazing feelings than looking down 5300′ and knowing that you climbed every foot of the way up and conquered the enormity of nature beneath your feet. And to do it with three other friends close to your heart? Now that’s magic if I’ve ever experienced it.