A semi-periodic publication by the Dartmouth Outing Club of trip and expedition reports, essays, poetry, artwork and photography.
- President’s Introduction
Flora Krivak-Tetley ’02
- Speech on the Occasion of Earl’s Retirement
David Hooke ’84
- A Tribute to Earl
- Others Before Self
Susan Warner Smith
- We Had a Great Time in Ladakh, India
David Hooke ’84 and Kathy Roy Hooke ’85
- Cirque of the Unflushables
Nicho Dankers ’01
- Summer Vacation in Kenya
Kelly Fisher ’00
- Leaving MRL
Walker Holmes ’00
As I sit in front of the computer to write this I can hear the pitter-patter of rain reverberating off the roof outside my window. A few lonely leaves cling to some birches next door, but most of the trees gave up their foliage weeks ago. The knee-deep autumn slipperyness on the AT has waned and one no longer slides down a foot for every two attempted when heading up the Velvet Rocks section of the trail. Within a week I suspect we will have snow on the ground.
This fall term has seen a flurry of activity in the DOC. It has been a joy to serve as the president of the club, though the time has flown by like I never could have imagined. I would like to thank all the member clubs for their hard work and fantastic dedication to getting outside and introducing new people to the activities we love as well as helping each other reach limits only dreamed of. It is refreshing.
For the first time, the DOC directorate was able to organize an official event for the freshmen students during orientation week at the beginning of the term. We served free ice cream to ’04s in front of Robo and chatted with anyone who passed by. Over five hundred people came to check out the club, and many had a great time relearning the salty dog and generally acting silly on the lawn.
Fall Weekend, this year October 7-8, was run extraordinarily well. The fifty-mile hike from Hanover to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge was a great success, with twenty-one out of twenty-three people completing the hike, and dozens of volunteers supporting the trailwalkers. The Moose was also fabulous, with ten people hiking up and over Moosilauke three times in one day for a total of thrity-four miles. Two large groups helped out with trailwork, both on the Moosilauke Ridge Trail and on the AT closer to Hanover, the mountaineering club took a vanful of people to climb at Rumney and another dozen people enjoyed biking up to the Lodge. We served the well-received chili and cornbread dinner, with Rachel Goldwasser ’01’s beautiful hiking-boot cakes rounding out the meal as dessert! Everett called square-dancing and got everyone out on the dance floor as usual, and when it began to snow softly partway through the evening, people joyously poured out the back door to feel the magical white stuff. It was a beautiful evening.
For Halloween this year we put on the second annual Morbid Madness celebration in conjunction with Amarna and Casque and Gauntlet. They created a haunted house in the basement of C&G, and we ran vans between Collis and the golf course, where everyone hiked through our mile or so long haunted forest. At the entrance we warmed people up with hot cider and had them enter a drawing for dinner and a movie for two. Those working on the forest had a great time, swinging from trees and wielding chainsaws at the unsuspecting students who dared enter.
This fall term has also seen a lot of change in the Outdoor Programs Office. Earl Jette ’55A, Director of Outdoor Programs, will be retiring in January (though he’s still hanging around the DOC to work on some special projects he’s been eying for a while now). Kathy Doherty will be coming from UNH in January as the new Director of Outdoor Programs. She was able to visit several times throughout the course of the term and it has been great to help introduce her to Dartmouth, the DOC, and all that we do! Welcome to this dear school, Kathy!
Partway through the term we also bid farewell to Kathy Kelley who had been serving as the OPO’s receptionist. I wish her the best of luck in all future pursuits, and will miss her cheerful and knowledgeable advice.
In several days’ time, I leave with several friends to head out west for some climbing in Red Rocks, Nevada, and a backpacking trips in the snowy backcountry of the Sierras. This is what the soul of the DOC really is, to me: the pure and awesome freedom and strength of time spent entirely out-of-doors. What a great thing to have found in life.
I’d like to wish everyone an amazing winter 2001!
Yours in the out-o-doors,
Flora Krivak-Tetley ’02, Acting DOC President, Fall 2000
Speech on the Occasion of Earl’s Retirement
Earl Jette ’55A retired January 1. He began as assistant to the executive director of the DOC in the fall of 1970. He became executive director in 1975. In 1983 he was named director of Outdoor Programs. Earl was scheduled to leave on October 1, 2000, but he agreed to stay on for nearly another year to help with Kathy Doherty’s (the new OPO director’s) transition and to complete a number of management projects, particularly at the College Grant. Nonetheless, Earl’s retirement party was held at the Ravine Lodge on October 1, and a fine gathering of the faithful it was. The following is David Hooke ’84’s remarks on the occasion — with a few things added that he wished he had said at the time…
It is remarkable to think back over my twenty years of knowing Earl. I can remember the line that would quietly form in room 13 on Tuesday mornings — after the C&T meeting — of people trying to figure out how to do what, the previous night, they had rashly promised they would do. Earl’s office was in the corner closest to the Hanover Inn (now Ruff’s office). In those days the lobby was larger, and Earl’s door opened right onto it. If Earl’s door was closed, you waited. But if it was open, you went right in and he’d shut the door behind you. From then on you were in the World of Earl, with the mobile made of a flattened chainsaw, several plants in the final stages of dehydration (kept alive by coffee, mostly), and his big file cabinet with four drawers labeled ‘misc.’, ‘this’, ‘that’, and ‘the other’. You were in a place where you got listened to, all the way. Advice was spare and considered, questions also few but pointed. If your idea had merit, he’d give you all the support you’d ever need. He was the rock of the DOC.
The same principles applied when Earl moved up the notch from executive director of DOC to director of Outdoor Programs. Earl wasn’t an empire builder and he sure was stingy with money, but he had a knack for listening, for sniffing out chances, and for moving when the time was right. And so this master conservative has presided over the biggest period of expansion the DOC and this office have ever known. The last fifteen years have seen the arrival of the Organic Farm, the Climbing Gym, the Rental Shop, and the Silver Fox Ski Touring Center. The new pieces mesh with the old and all pieces support each other — the DOC has probably never been healthier. The result is an outdoors program that is truly at the heart of the college and consistently attracts some of the best and brightest students.
Learning Earl’s method has been a slow business for me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not caught on yet, but it is heartwarming to think how much of a mentor he has been for me, and for all of us.
To sum up, Earl has three key qualities — his skinflint nature, his willingness to put himself on the line for things that he thinks are right, and his ability to laugh. Which brings me to my most indelible memory of Earl, from my freshman year, 1981.
Some of you will remember the old bridge to Agassiz Cabin. It spanned Moosilauke Brook, about ten feet above the water. It was a log stringer bridge with boards nailed across it. When built, owing to the logs available, it had a significant lean to one side, and time had made the situation worse. It was the student consensus that the bridge had to be replaced.
So Earl led a large crew up to the site one weekend. The gang was ready to fell trees and go to town on the project. But as they were looking at the bridge, Earl got an idea. He theorized that rather than take so much time and energy, and so many bridge spikes, the group shouldn’t build a new bridge but, instead, find a way to counteract the twist in the old bridge. So he proposed that a long outrigger — a diving board, in effect — be fastened across the bridge, and that a large rock be placed on the end of the board. This, he proposed, would impart the required twist to bring the bridge back to level, if not immediately, then over time.
An appropriate plank was selected and was nailed, with a great number of nails, to the top of the bridge. Earl then located a large rock, laid it on the board, and proceeded slowly to inch it out toward the end of the gangplank.
What Earl did not know was that, over the years, the planks on the top of the bridge had concealed, and in fact had probably caused, a substantial amount of rot in the tops of the log stringers. Thus it was that, entirely without warning, the nails holding the plank to the low log suddenly became unequal to the task of supporting Earl, the rock, and the increasing amount of leverage imparted. Earl, stone, and plank fell toward the stream; Earl lit briefly on a sloping rock, but then he and everything fell into the stream. This was, of course, in mid-May.
As the crew watched in amazement, Earl suddenly reappeared on the surface, glasses gone, totally soaked, rubbing his badly twisted ankle, and laughing that inimitable Earl laugh, like he would never stop.
We are really going to miss you, Earl!
A Tribute to Earl
Originally given as a speech at a retirement party for Earl, Collis Commonground, September 29, 2000.
For me this is a very bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, I am incredibly happy for Earl and his family. But I also am saddened to know that Earl’s stewardship of the Outdoor Programs Office is coming to a close.
Earl has made extraordinary contributions to Dartmouth in his thirty years here and has served in a variety of capacities. When he was hired in 1970, he joined a staff of three as the assistant to the executive director of the Outing Club. At the time there were three divisions and four affiliated clubs. In the ’70s when the OPO was created, three more positions were added to cope with the new facilities programs: the College Grant, the Ravine Lodge, and four more affiliated clubs. In 1982 when the director of outdoor affairs retired, that position was combined with the Outdoor Programs Office.
Since that time Earl has also served as adjunct instructor in the Environmental Studies program, taught woodcraft and outdoor education as part of the PE program, coached Dartmouth’s trap and skeet team and its rifle team. He has overseen the construction of a dozen cabins and shelters and the renovation of the Ravine Lodge. He has also designed over fifty miles of the Appalachian Trail and a suspension bridge constructed at the College Grant. He’s a registered forester, a deputy forest fire warden for the state of New Hampshire, has served on the board of managers for the Appalachian Trail Conference and on the Secretary of the Interior’s Appalachian National Scenic Trail Advisory Committee.
Locally, Earl has served as president of the Lebanon Outing Club, president of the Lebanon Parent Teacher Association, and chair of the Lebanon Conservation commission — all the while raising a family of five children with his wife, Sheila.
Throughout the years, there is no question that Earl has seen tremendous change at the college. He would marvel at the change in our students’ appetites for adventure. Not content with just planning canoe trips down the Connecticut River and hiking in the White Mountains, students have requested his assistance in their plans to canoe in Vietnam, ski in Labrador, and trek in the Himalayas. Needless to say, over the years, Earl has developed an amazing rapport with our Risk Management Office.
Earl’s love of the outdoors is only surpassed by his enjoyment and love for teaching and working with students. As he has watched the administrative tasks of his job grow exponentially, he often has had to be creative in order to stay connected with the student population. He has accomplished this by quick trips out to cabin building sites. Perhaps this year, since he won’t have to file the annual OPO budget, Earl will finally join students on the Trip to the Sea.
Earl is an infamous pack rat. When I asked him about the complexities of his job twelve years ago when I first started working with him, he dug around in his office and found a memo that John Rand had written to himself in 1968 and had shared with Earl when he became director. A list of the roles that a successful director of OPO must play, it included:
Administrator, Publicist, Promoter, Prognosticator, Receptionist, Estimator, File Clerk, Intermediary, Instructor, Advisor, Composer, Treasurer, “father”, “mother”, “Simon Lagree”, “Daniel Boone”, Psychiatrist, Philosopher, Scientist, Fund Raiser, Fortune Teller, Politician, Chaplain, Public Relations Specialist, Artist, Contractor, Dietician, Cook, Hunter, Fisherman, Canoeist, Archer, Mountaineer, Medic, Naturalist, Meteorologist, Skier, Explorer, Geographer, Carpenter, Mechanic, Dispatcher, Office boy, Janitor, Conservationist
For all of us for have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Earl, we know that he has served in each of these capacities well. When I think of Earl, I think of his leadership, his compassion, his unwavering support of students and staff, his commitment to getting everyone outdoors (and off the computer) and to creating an environment on campus in which all students feel welcomed into the Dartmouth community.
We thank you Earl, for your thirty years, and we wish you and your family the very best.
Others Before Self
By Susan Warner Smith, publications manager in the Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs. This article was originally printed in the Dartmouth College Annual Report 2000.
When they traveled to India, David and Kathy Roy Hooke taught much more than they expected to…
David Hooke ’84 landed in Ladakh, a small subsection of northernmost India, late last March, just after the school year began. With no heat and little electricity in the school, the ninth graders bunched together on benches at simple tables, thirty-five or more to a classroom. They were eager to watch an American unlock the mystery of the English language. Swaddled in his own layers of sweaters and a parka, Hooke stood in front of the blackboard for the first time in ten years, trying to piece together in fractured English the nuances of his lesson.
“What I really wanted,” he admits, “were some fingerless gloves to hold the chalk.”
It was a short journey to that classroom, says Hooke, from an Easter dinner in his parents’ Amherst, MA, home. Over that meal, a Tibetan refugee first hinted that Hooke and his wife, Kathy Roy Hooke ’85, might consider teaching at the Tibetan Children’s Village school in Ladakh.
“Kathy had a sabbatical coming from the Mountain School (a Vershire, VT, private school where she teaches) and we had planned on traveling,” explains Hooke. “But I’ve traveled to many places as a tourist: Nepal, Kenya, Norway, and Mexico. We wanted to go somewhere where we could be more than passive observers of the culture — where we could be useful.”
With a huge shortage of native English-speaking teachers, the school in Ladakh gladly brought the Hookes on board. And despite the struggle of those first few weeks, David and Kathy quickly adjusted. They learned that the school’s motto, “others before self,” extends far beyond the classroom — it is an integral part of the Tibetan culture.
An example of David and Kathy’s cultural embrace was morning teatime. During the ten o’clock recess, teachers at the Tibetan Village School gather in the courtyard and are served sweet tea by “the peon”. The peon is, in fact, considered a position of great honor and is held by one of Ladakh’s wealthiest men.
The Hookes also learned more about Tibetan nomadic culture by trekking — seven days on foot — to the remote Chang Thang region to visit with a colleague’s family.
“Nothing in our western experience compares to the isolation they face there,” says Hooke of the nomadic community. “They are literally cut off for six months at a time. No phones, no automobiles, not even radios. The life is so hard that many children, as a result of their education, are turning to something else. Even some of the older generation say nomading, which is the heart of their culture, is too difficult. It was sad, but fascinating, to see the tension between tradition and education.”
At the Ladakh school, electricity is restricted to a single generator that powers two desktop computers. Dave and Kathy wondered how access to technology would affect the Tibetans. They were surprised by the degree of the Tibetans’ hunger to know more.
“Teachers realize that, above all, they must open the world to their students,” says Hooke, “but to do that they need to learn for themselves.”
Through an arrangement with Dartmouth, David and Kathy had relatives bring five laptops to the school. “The teachers were astounded,” says Hooke. “They had heard that computers were so complex you’d need six months’ training to use one; yet, in reality, they could create a letter in half an hour!”
Hooke says the experiment was so successful that he has tentative plans to bring three more Dartmouth laptops for transport to the school. But his real hope is someday to bring some of the Tibetan teachers over here.
Hooke says his initial goal in traveling to Ladakh was to be of service. But he also wanted to broaden his perspective on educational institutions, feeling that this would enhance his work at Dartmouth as assistant director of Outdoor Programs. Now he’s working on strengthening Dartmouth’s ties to The Children’s Village, and if possible, helping to broaden the perspective of many others — American and Tibetan.
Tibetan Children’s Village
The Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) is an affiliated group of integrated community centers for the care and education of orphans and destitute Tibetan children in exile. Founded in 1960, it currently comprises eleven thousand children in TCV communities across India. The children live in group “homes” with Tibetan houseparents. Each school and its associated homes form an integrated campus. During the day the children attend TCV schools, which attempt to combine the best of modern education with the rich cultural heritage of Tibet. The school in Ladakh was built in 1975 for the most remote and least developed of all Tibetan communities, those in exile along the Indo-Tibet border. For more information about the TCV schools write the head office at Dharmsala Cantt — 176216, Dist. Kangra, H.P., India.
We Had a Great Time in Ladakh, India
“Tashi Delek!” (a Tibetan greeting)
Ladakh is truly a place of wonder. We were completely taken in by the place and the culture.
Ladakh was originally known as Western Tibet, and its roots are strongly Tibetan. Ladakhi Buddhism is not a Sunday religion but a complete way of life based on mindfulness, hospitality, and compassion. This religion suffuses every aspect of life in huge parts of the territory. Ladakh also has Muslim roots that go way back, coming out of Kashmir. Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have existed in the area, and indeed the fighting over Kashmir between India and Pakistan is not far away. But so far, at least, in Ladakh, these two religious groups have shown a powerful desire for calm and co-existence: they demonstrate how two very different populations can live together.
Of the two religious and cultural groups, the Buddhist Tibetans are the newer arrivals in Ladakh, having come over the border since the Chinese occupation of Tibet forty years ago. Though new, they have made a large and positive impression on the area: their school, where we taught, is a model for that entire region, and many graduates have gone on to teach in the area.
It is the Ladakhis’ “green” way of life, which fits their unique landscape, that was, to our eyes, the signature of the place. Ladakh is located in a high altitude desert, where the only regularly available water comes from streams that flow down from the high-elevation snowfields. But locals have developed some of the most productive agriculture in the world on the soils they have built up over time. Indeed sustainability is not a new fad, but absolutely fundamental to life in Ladakh. Everything is recycled, all is used. In fact, the arrival of plastic and other trash in Ladakh has been the bane of modernization — in Ladakh there is simply no ethic for disposing of something that does not rot. So the challenges of the new world are many and strains exist, but the place and the people of Ladakh are truly captivating.
After we finished our teaching stint in late May, we entertained our parents, and David’s aunt and uncle, and then went off on a number of travels. We were fortunate to climb 20,188-foot Stok Kangri, which we looked at from the school every day, before making a trek to visit a co-worker’s nomadic relatives (mentioned in Susan’s article). Traveling in Ladakh is extremely civilized — we hired a ponyman and his ponies to carry all of our junk while we walked. The routes we followed — even most of the way up Stok — were ancient herding or trade routes. And we stayed quite dry while traveling because in Ladakh it almost never rains!
Both while teaching and traveling, we had an absolutely wonderful time.
Cirque of the Unflushables
Shit … I traveled to one of the most remote, magnificent climbing destinations in North America, and I found shit.
In the heart of the Mackenzie Mountains, on the border of the Northwest and Yukon Territories, hides a spectacular hanging valley of alpine meadows and enormous granite spires. Eighteen hundred miles of driving, a hundred-mile plane flight, and a helicopter ride carried my friend and me up and into the Cirque of the Unclimbables, home of the renowned Fairy Meadows and the elusive Lotus Flower Tower. The last thing I wanted to find was human waste — shit, cans, and wrappers — in the camps, in the caves, and on the climbs. Concerns over protecting the Cirque have sparked the debate: how do we handle our waste in the sensitive alpine environment?
The Cirque of the Unclimbables lies outside the border of Nahanni National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and holds no mining interest for the Northwest Territories Government. This leaves the Cirque essentially unmanaged by any park official or government minister. Climbers first visited the area in 1955, bringing with them tin cans and bottles. In the ’70s and ’80s, with the increased interest in rock climbing, visiting parties brought with them plastic wrappers, the occasional porn magazine, and Europeans, a traditionally messier crowd than their American and Canadian counterparts. Through the ’90s, more and more people came to the Fairy Meadows basecamp, with more flights and helicopter rides. Still, only about 150 people per year make it into the Cirque, due to the high cost and the transportation difficulties. However, because there are only two climbable months per year, the activity then is intense.
The slower growth and decomposition of the high alpine ecosystem makes the meadows fragile. Thick mats of moss growing over boulders and streams take decades to recover when trampled by hiking boots. With snow nine months of the year and generally cold and rainy summer temperatures, human waste breaks down slowly. Currently, the top concerns for the health of the Cirque are human shit, garbage, and trail erosion.
The future of the Cirque portends more and more visitors. A Cirque of the Unclimbables website, numerous magazine articles, and the inclusion in the book, 50 Classic Climbs in North America, extol the virtues of this pristine alpine wonderland, dramatically increasing its once secretive popularity. Since the Cirque receives no daily garbage collection or septic service, the area’s health rests in the responsible actions of the climbers and explorers who spend the wet summers there. As a traveler to this magical place where lush meadows and massive boulders cower beneath jagged granite walls on all sides, I felt the call to stewardship, to care for the state of the Cirque.
For my Mellon Grant to perform “An Initial Environmental Impact Assessment of the Ecorecreational Impacts on the Cirque of the Unclimbables Basecamp”, I monitored all environmental concerns in and around Fairy Meadows. Coincidentally, the Cirque 2000 Project, a clean-up and toilet-building effort, overlapped with my visit to the Unclimbables, and I took charge of the shit patrol. As a peace offering to the gods of poop, I gathered the dark brown piles and weathered toilet paper and set them ablaze.
I directed my energy to the capstone of the Cirque 2000 effort: the installation of a low-impact toilet. Located close to the largest campsite, downstream from all water sources, with ample surrounding soil and safe outflow into a talus field, the toilet concentrates waste where it can be safely buried. A privacy screen of granite boulders, a small green toilet seat, and a cedar deck offer the user both privacy and a pant-dropping view of Mt. James McBrian. Furthermore, we completed a camp clean-up and posted leave-no-trace camping information on signs by Glacier Lake, the jump-off point for the hike into the Cirque. Over the next three years, monitoring efforts will determine the impact of the signs, clean-up, and toilet on the Cirque of the Unclimbables
The question of how we handle our alpine waste remains unanswered. Some controversy over the toilet and signs filtered through the Fairy Meadows, but the latrine quickly proved effective in its intended duty. In creating the latrine, a user group took initiative on its own and designed an appropriate solution to a real problem. Hopefully, similar remote, unmanaged travel destinations will receive such careful attention in the future, for shit’s sake.
Summer Vacation in Kenya
This past summer, with the help of a Tucker Fellowship, I was lucky enough to spend ten weeks living with a Kenyan family and teaching biointensive agriculture (BIA) to various groups in the town of Machakos, Kenya. I went through the program Global Service Corps and received funding from the Tucker Foundation.
I arrived in Nairobi on July 4, and was whisked away to my new home in Machakos (about an hour SE of Nairobi) the next day. I started training the day after that, along with Jon Snyder (another American volunteer), Kyalo Mutinda, and Munyo Hosel (Jon’s and my Kenyan counterparts). Over the course of a few days, the four of us learned the basics of composting, utilizing different types of manure, double dug beds, and natural pesticides. We then went out and led two-day seminars for interested parties, including community coalitions, women’s groups, and church groups. We also helped begin an organic farm project at a local school for “at-risk” youth.
In America, “organics” have attained a sort of haute culture status, but in Kenya it’s a matter of necessity. With an average yearly income of $300, not many people can afford pesticides or fertilizers. Also, biointensive methods drastically reduce the amount of water you need to use. This summer, I experienced a particularly intense dry season — in my house, water ran freely about once every couple of weeks. A lot of the people I worked with never had easy access to water, and everyone I knew had to go out and search for it at least part of the time — so farming with little water made sense. Whether they call it “organic” or not, it’s the type of farming nearly everyone in Kenya practices.
My experiences in Kenya were wonderful. It was easier to pack up and start a new life (and harder to come back and rejoin my old one) than I could’ve imagined. Some of the things I dealt with there were shockingly unlike anything I could have expected; others were shockingly similar to situations I’d been in back at home. On a daily basis I feel myself looking at life in the U.S. in an altered light. I underwent changes there that I expect to feel impacts from for the rest of my life. And just as soon as I can afford the plane ticket, I’m going back.
Every imaginable kitchen implement is locked in the freezer. All the doors are barred and metal grates cover the windows. Mattresses are piled to the ceiling in Room 6, bags of pillows and mattress pads fill Room 1. The library is defurnished, the desk is empty, the plumbing is shut off. We have given the Lodge to winter. In the next five months, snow will pile on the roof, the 150-year-old logs will creak and bend in the cold from the weight of winter. Rime ice will grow on the fir trees, the alpine meadow and the summit rocks will put on their frozen winter clothes.
But wasn’t it just last week when hordes of sweaty dirty summer hikers would tromp through the Ravine Lodge, sit on the worn couches as their tired bodies recovered from seven miles of New Hampshire granite? The time has passed all too quickly, but the next Lodge season is only five months away. Spring, summer, and fall, the Ravine Lodge is a living, breathing welcome mat for Mount Moosilauke, Dartmouth’s treasured peak, 4,802-feet tall, southern entrance to the White Mountains.
Many Dartmouth students have been to Moosilauke — the mountain and the Lodge, but most Dartmouth students have not experienced its purest form. Moosilauke is a study in history, beauty, hard work, appreciation, and reverence. The sense of place at Moosilauke is such that every person who feels its power immediately feels at home. Come to Moosilauke — hike one of the many trails to the summit. Sit on that high bald place and take in the White Mountains. Lounge on the couches in the main room and soak up the warmth of the enormous fire. Sit for dinner, as the sun sets over the mountain we’ll bring you bread fresh from the oven, thick hot soup, a hearty entrée, and a made-from-scratch dessert. Stick around after the food is gone — there might be a sing-along, a student band, a professor reading, a dance performance, a slide show. Close your eyes, smell the spruce logs. Know that all of this is Moosilauke; this is Dartmouth; this is home. Moosilauke belongs to us all. Countless people each year, all year, give their time, energy, and blessing for the betterment of the Lodge and the mountain. For those of us who know and love Moosilauke, a part of us will always remain there. It will always be home.
The Lodge is a place where the little things matter. People care. Tiny details make the place run, make it welcoming. Working at the Lodge is a lesson is self-sufficiency. If something is broken, you fix it. If you make a mess, you clean it up. If there is a problem, you solve it. The rewards of the job are indescribable — who could have predicted the satisfaction of successfully plunging a toilet, or the feeling of completion you have after crawling on your hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor? Even the grimy jobs lose their grime: the compost doesn’t smell so bad when you understand that you produced it, and you will put it to use in its next incarnation. In fact, stirring the mixture of orange peels, egg shells, refried beans, spaghetti noodles, molded lettuce, and mulch makes you smile — you realize that this is your Lodge, you make it work, your small efforts make it a welcoming place. Ask Dana Loebman what it means to work at the Lodge, to spend an entire season working with your hands, being of use, loving the mountain, making people happy. She will tell you that she loved her job.
When you hike the mountain, notice how well the Dave Crew (Dave Weissberger and Dave Hastings, trail workers extraordinaire) removed and catalogued the leaves this fall. Notice the new bridges on the Ridge Trail. These two burly men spent months making trails easy to travel and leaf-free. At the summit, notice the new plaque — Justin Barnard hiked the mountain twice in one day in order to put it there. If you come to the Lodge for dinner, you might be lucky enough to witness an infamous Eli Burak dinner talk, such as “A day in the life of the Moosilauke Midget”, “Eli’s Chaps”, or “Self-Defense for Humans against the Wild Beasts of Moosilauke”. The summer Lodge Crew Jug Band might give a token performance (watch out for Kate Hitchings, she’s a mean bean shaker). Alex Kern might be in the kitchen, proving that it really only takes twenty minutes to whip up a homemade apple pie. Emily Lewis and Lucy Goddard might be there helping out with dinner — they can’t stay away for more than a week, they love the place too much. Evan Skow could be riding the Hobart, but more likely he’s cooking up a messy meatloaf. Lydia Dixon will be behind the dish machine, doing dishes with Ani Difranco — Targhee will be lounging on the crew porch. At breakfast, Terry Osborne and Chris Carbone might read Green Eggs and Ham. Watch out — when Professor Osborne halts his defiant march around the main room, he might grab a handful of green eggs from your plate. More green eggs will land on the floor than in his mouth. Meanwhile, Alex Mendez-Diez will be working overtime, installing window panes — Jonny Waldman will make a batch of death bars true to their name — Nira Salant will be gaining the affections of Eben the SOLO WFR instructor, claiming to have sliced her finger while cutting the cheddar cheese.
There is a satisfaction in working at the Lodge, in spending a season or two or three cooking, building, cleaning, smiling, and learning that we can be self-sufficient. We can take up a simple task and carry it to completion — we can even do it well. We learn as much from the work of our hands, the sweat of our labor, and the exhaustion of our bodies than we ever learn in a classroom. When the season is over, when we finally — reluctantly — give the Lodge to winter, we find that in our crew members we have found steadfast friends, and in Moosilauke we have found a home.