Travel can include visiting big cities, shopping in unique stores, eating exciting cuisines, and immersing yourself in a foreign culture. However, a very important, and often neglected, aspect of travel is getting to know the land that you are visiting. The geography of a place always has a story to tell if you are willing to listen.
If it were up to me, all my travel would include a backpack and a tent. I love camping and hiking. My husband, on the other hand, loves a comfortable bed and home cooked meal. Needless to say we have had to work on our ability to compromise, but one trip in particular leaves both of us satisfied.
The Appalachian Mountains offer some of the oldest and most beautiful mountain summits in the world. The ancient chain parallels the east coast of the United States and stretches all the way to Canada.
In the state of New Hampshire, halfway between Montreal and New York City, there is a segment of the Appalachian Mountain Chain known as the White Mountains. These tall peaks are rugged and rocky. The top of the mountains are usually exposed to the elements and the trail is surrounded by delicate alpine tundra – and sometimes even a moose!
It is difficult to travel with a heavy pack through this challenging terrain. The GREAT part is. You don’t have to! The White Mountains have developed a hut system, much like that used in the Alps of Europe. Each shelter contains several bunkrooms and a summertime staff can provide you with a family style meal at breakfast and dinner and an unlimited bowl of soup at lunchtime. That means you will be able to leave your tent and the majority of your food provisions at home.
One of the most popular routes through the White Mountains follows the Appalachian Trail 26 miles from Pinkham Notch to Crawford Notch, and travels to the top of Mount Washington – the tallest mountain in New England. This path passes three separate huts – Mizpah Spring Hut, Lake of the Clouds Hut, and Madison Hut, making it the perfect hiking adventure for a long-weekend. But if you are looking ahead to summer 2012, go ahead and schedule your reservation (the huts are very popular and can fill up months in advance). You also might want to budget an extra day into your traverse as Mount Washington weather is often unpredictable. At one point the mountain had the highest recorded wind speed in the world!