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High Adventure in the White Mountains 2023 - AMC Hut Trip Report

by Quinn O., Troop 185 Scribe

WELLESLEY - I find it hard to believe that anyone who didn’t see all 50 or so of us packed into 8 rooms in the Mizpah Spring Hut could begin to imagine it, so let me help you visualize it. On Saturday we all woke up early, drove to St. John’s, and from there, departed on a journey to the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. We unpacked at the parking lot right then and there embarked up through the steep wooded terrain on a rugged, rocky, and somewhat muddy trail to the hut.

The Troop 185 Expedition outside the hut on Sunday evening. The steep trail up Mr. Pierce is the background. Photo credit: Phoebe the Hutmaster

The Troop 185 Expedition outside the hut on Sunday evening. The steep trail up Mr. Pierce is the background. Photo credit: Phoebe the Hutmaster.

On the way, some of us were plagued by unexpected heat and fatigue, and had some encounters with some annoyingly stubborn gnats and other assorted bugs. However, due to the scouts’ training, resilience from adult and younger siblings alike, and careful planning by the troop leaders - especially Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Pyzowski, everyone managed to get up to the hut (in spite of a wrong turn by Jonathan C. and co.). Almost as importantly, though, everyone managed to bring up the food needed for our four meals that was purchased, divided, and strategically divided among everyone about a week prior to the trip. Funnily enough, the view from the parking lot ended up being better than from the hut, but that ended up being a non-factor because it was only if you stayed inside the entire weekend, of which just about no one did. Even the few that didn’t feel like going out on Sunday entertained themselves in the library playing games like Chess and Catan. That night we enjoyed a wonderful meal of chicken parm with a side of penne pasta, masterfully engineered by Mr. Pyzowski with the help of 7 or so scouts. The meal didn’t turn out exactly as expected, but in fairness it was cooked in ovens installed in 1958, and overall it was delicious.

On Sunday, everyone but the crew of 3 heading to Mount Washington (see separate report below) had a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, bacon, pastries, and VERY concentrated Tang, again executed by Mr. Pyzowski and assisted by a new group of scouts. After that, more people set out to hike and enjoy the shockingly impossibly cloudless weather.

My hiking group chose to head up first to Mount Pierce, up to Mount Eisenhower, down around the backside of the mountain, and then rejoin the previous trail and head down. On the way to Pierce we were to take a right off the trail onto another one, and then retrace our steps from Saturday back over to the hut. The whole trip was to be around 6 or 7 miles, but due to extenuating circumstances, we scrapped the second half of our plan and just made our way down Eisenhower back the exact way we came. The journey was cut to 4 or so miles. Ultimately it ended up being one of my favorite experiences out hiking the trails with my brother, dad, and a couple of my friends. We got back to the hut and half of us promptly fell asleep in our bunks and didn’t wake until it was time for another group of scouts to start cooking.

It was quite impressive to see that, despite having 48 hikers spread across four different mountains, everyone returned to the hut safely by 5:00 PM as instructed, with the final group arriving with just 6 minutes to spare. The bulk of the trip was already over. Everyone was back and awaiting dinner. You might think the dinner effort was more relaxed. If so, you would think wrong. It was here, in this time, Mr. Pyzowski and his group of scouts cooked up a new masterpiece: possibly one of the best meals I’ve had in my entire scouting career (soaring high above the likes of Salty Steak, Mac n’ Soup, or Chicken Broth Grilled Cheese) tenderloin steak, assorted vegetables, tri color quinoa, and green salad. The steak was expertly seasoned and cooked - a perfect medium, juicy and flavorful. I never thought I’d relish cooked beets and turnips as much as I did, but they turned out to be absolutely delectable. The meal was followed by some scrumptious brownies and quite a bit of dish-washing for me and Alex D., after which, exhausted, we went to bed for our second and final night there.

We woke up on Monday and learned that our Senior Patrol Leaders assigned 11 scouts to stay and clean the hut while the rest of the troop traversed down to the lot. We worked hard and efficiently and not too long after, our extremely helpful and hospitable Hutmaster, Phoebe dismissed us, deeming the hut spotless. We said our goodbyes, collected all of our items, and departed. Johannes .E and I proceeded to descend at what can be described as alarming speed, making much better time than expected. Of course, we were completely unharmed, aside from another encounter with some familiar friends, the gnats.

Overall, this has to be one the better scouting experiences. We accomplished what we set out to do and thanks to the logistics, planning, and fine dining provided by Mr. Pyzowski, I doubt it could have run any smoother. I think everyone learned a little bit from this trip including, but not limited to: wear bug spray, wear sunscreen, watch out for the gnats, make sure you have the right trail, etc... There are certain campouts or outings I look back on and think: Oof. That was pretty bad. Indeed this was not one of them. Armed with experiences of the goods and bads of campouts, I, in my humble opinion, give this trip my stamp of approval. 

Thanks for the Help

These trips don't happen without the support of our adult leaders. We had an excellent team this year. A big thanks to Pallo Blum-Tucker, Laura Brown-MacKinnon, Jonathan Chiu, Kevin Daly, Jon Flynn, Bryan Jadot, Ann King, Henry MacKinnon, Wei Ning, Chima Ohaegbulam, Jerry Peng, Jacqui Perna, Ben Rogers, Daniel Sciortino, Sonja Sharpe, and Rose Zheng.

And special thanks to Pete Blumenthal and Stephen Scherrer for helping to manage the kitchen.

And lastly, a HUGE THANKS to Mr. Pyzowski for managing the entire trip and giving the Troop such a great opportunity.

AMC Hut Trip Photo Contest 2023

Thanks to everyone who submitted their pictures. Judging the contest this year was extremely difficult.

Winner of the General Excellence Division

This panoramic photo was submitted by Mr. Blumenthal and was taken from the summit of Mt. Pierce. The judges thought this picture best captured the general excellence of the weather conditions that we enjoyed the entire weekend. No clouds in any direction!

Winner of the Scout Spirit Division

In the opinion of the judges, this photo by Mr. Flynn best captures the Scout Spirit that was on display during our trip. Here two Troop 185 hiking teams meet on the return trip from Mr. Eisenhower. Despite many hard miles and many sore legs, everyone enjoyed a perfect day in the mountains. The snow around the higher elevations of Mt. Washington can be seen in the background.

Winner of the Nature Division

The judges were impressed by this amazing photo by Tyler Perna-Timperio. We're not sure how Tyler managed to convince that bird to land on his hand, but we're assuming that some beef tenderloin and tri-color quinoa was involved.

Runner-Up Submissions

This photo was submitted by Mr. Jonathan Chiu and was taken on his trip up Mt. Washington during the steepest part of the final ascent. The warning sign in the foreground is a bit hard to read in this photo but the friendly message is clear to all approaching hikers:

STOP The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died here from exposure, even in the summer. TURN BACK NOW IF THE WEATHER IS BAD.

The Mt. Washington hiking team was lucky to be on the mountain on an extremely rare sunny, calm, cloudless day.

Cuisine Photos

These two photos capture the before and after of the outstanding dinner we had on Sunday evening. So good! Who needs Smith & Wollensky when you have Scherrer & Pyzowski?

And the amazing desert ready to be served. When can I sign up for next year's AMC Hut Trip?

The Executive Kitchen Team. Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Scherrer, and Mr. Pyzowski.

Other Miscellaneous Pictures

There's a lot of unplugged time in the White Mountains. The Mizpah Spring Hut has a great library where we enjoyed many hours of analog entertainment like Catan and chess.

The AMC huts are very comfortable and include all of the modern conveniences. We were able to control the WIFI ourselves using this switch:

But we weren't completely without communication. Each morning at 7:00 AM Phoebe the Hutmaster received the daily weather statement via two-way radio.

It doesn't get much better than this:

Taking advantage of the excellent weather, a team of three made the 14 mile round-trip to the top of Mt. Washington. As you can see, there was quite a lot of snow close to the summit. Here Scout Ben K. enjoys the view at the famous Lake of the Clouds. It was quite frustrating to put in all of that hiking to reach the lake and find that there were no clouds, but that's the risk you take. Congratulations to Ben K, Jonathan Chiu, and Henry MacKinnon for making it to the highest point in New England.