Hi folks. I hope this latest update finds you doing well, and coping with the latest round of changes to our lives.
The AMC just released their decisions about closures related to COVID-19. The short of it is that the high huts will remain closed for the duration of the 2020 season. As well as that, the White Mountain Hiker Shuttle will not be operating this season, either. If you already have a reservation, check in with them regarding refunds or rescheduling.
Trailheads, campsites, day-use areas, and the like are open or closed as per the Forest Service’s orders, and are outlined on their website. Campsites under New Hampshire state control are for member and resident use only at this time.
On the plus side… the trails are still there. The mountains remain steadfast, as they’ve done for the past 12,000 years. I’m pretty sure they’ll still be there in 2021. While the high huts are closed, the lodges are not, although I’d expect more than a few changes to the way things operate, so modulate your expectations accordingly.
Right now, it’s looking like the curve is indeed being flattened. But that’s no cause to start dancing in the streets. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking on smaller hills and mountains in the south of the state. Please take that as the guidance that it is, and consider doing similar, “low grade” hikes. If you need a goal, here’s some of what’s been keeping me moving:
NH Fire Tower’s Quest — for anyone who visits just five of the towers on this list, you can mail in and receive a patch commemorating your effort. Note: a couple peaks on the list are getting a lot of visitors, so consider visiting ones that are off the beaten path.
52 With a View — Not much coincides with the NH 48 list. A couple of them overlap the fire tower list. But wow, there are views. To be fair, a bunch are well traveled, and in the Whites (and thusly more attractive to out-of-towners.) But there are many great trips to be had that won’t involve hordes of tourists. Oh, and there’s a patch available for doing that list, too.
Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway — a 48 mile long trail with shelters along its route. Hike the whole thing, there’s another patch. Wow, you can fix all the holes in your pack just by hiking stuff.
The Wapack Trail, which is nearer to Nashua, Manchester, and Boston than Monadnock. Right now there are parking restrictions at some of the trailheads, but give it a look. I hiked a few miles of it and it’s a fun trail, whose views shouldn’t be discounted in the slightest. The Friends of the Wapack have a waterproof map and a companion guidebook on their website. But it’s not a hard trail to follow.
I’ve also been taking from the AMC Southern NH Trail Guide.
I know most of this isn’t as glamorous as the big stuff on the 48 and 67 lists. But there’s a lot to be said for going against the grain. Even more can be said for being out in the woods in precisely the places where the crowds aren’t. Just because it says “hill” instead of “mountain” doesn’t mean you can’t have a fantastic outing. Just because it’s “only” a 2,000 footer doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an amazing view.
(And here’s a nifty little secret: since doing the smaller stuff that’s closer to home, I’ve noticed I’ve been spending a lot less money on gasoline.)
Folks, it’s been awhile since the first stay-at-home orders dropped into our collective laps and upended our lives. It’s easy to get short-fused from being bottled-up at home. And with the coming of warm weather, it was just as frustrating for me to learn the governor extended the stay-at-home orders until the end of May.
The obvious balm is to go outside, but remember to keep things safe and sane. Take the long view, expect things won’t go the way you’d prefer, and allow yourself to be thrilled beyond words when small things actually do go your way. My flower garden is going nuts right now, and all kinds of colorful birds are visiting the feeders. Remember the little things that put a smile on your face. All things in time will pass.
As always, stay safe out there.
7 thoughts on “COVID-19 Update: AMC Closures”
1. Not to be a hair splitting pain in the butt… I imagine public campgrounds mean those nice places we pay 20 -25 night for a pleasant quiet spot. If so, here’s the hair splitter – Hastings! The one that’s actually in Maine in Evans Notch. I wonder if the Forest Service is going to say Maine only for that… So that’s my laugh for the day. 2. On principal, I have not even gone to Plaistow or Salem (10 minutes away) since this began. Massachusetts only. I wonder if things will get better in the summer and if they may be able to relax this a little, allowing out of state to camp overnight. We’ll see. Thanks so much for these columns!
You’re totally right. And also, “camping” as any AT thru-hiker practices it doesn’t necessarily include an improved site. So there’s that fly in the state’s ointment, too.
On staying down in MA, given your previously mentioned concerns, I endorse your decisions at the same time that I acknowledge that it’s painful to do so. I understand things are a fair bit more acute down there, so hopefully that’ll keep you safer.
The sun still rises every morning. The laundry still piles up. This too shall pass. It’s just a matter of time.
Wow, you made a humdinger of a point.
It took me a few minutes of looking around. It seems that Hastings is indeed run by the feds, so despite being in Maine, I’d go by the feds rules, barring anything that says otherwise.
That being said, looking at the USFS website, it’s a hot mess, and I’m having trouble making heads or tails of what’s open and closed. So when in doubt, call the Androscoggin Ranger Station and talk to an actual human being.
I’ll have more time to research this in the morning… because it’ll be nagging me all night.
Thanks for your message today. It’s upbeat in spite of the unexpected changes to our hiking worl.
I think success depends on examining the restrictions, and finding the places where you can safely get outside. Sometimes it means being resourceful, sometimes it means expanding your definition of “outdoors.” I know some are taking to camping in their backyards just to get their fix. The kid in me who made tents and forts out of bedsheets and furniture sees that and thinks “cool!” It’s taking the approach of the bamboo, and just bending with the wind. Eventually the winds stops, and you don’t have to bend anymore.
And, y’know, sometimes the wind blows something in from a far away land, that makes you see things differently.