Appalachian Mountain Club has these huts scattered in the White Mountains, NH, perfect for hikers to stretch their legs after a good strenuous hike. Greenleaf hut is one such hut in the mountains on the way to Mt Lafayette. Raghav had done the booking and we were all set to embark the hike.
After climbing for around 3 hrs we could finally see the hut. We still had a mile to reach the summit, but we decided to take a food break. Raghav had got this awesome hummus which we finished in less than half an hour. Don’t know where he got it from, but boy, that was the best hummus I have ever eaten. After refilling our water bottles we started for the summit.
A mile of steep climb and we reach Mt Lafayette. Excellent views were awaiting us. Oh Yes, and thousands of bugs too. This is something we had not prepared for. I would highly recommend a bug spray or some kind of a lotion to keep bugs out. We spent about an hour on the summit. After chit chatting with other hikers we realized that we were the only group that had done such a simple hike! Who comes directly to Mt Lafayette?! Haa.. most of the hikers had reached Lafayette after crossing Mt Liberty, Mt Flume, Little Haystack and Mt Lincoln. Yes, that’s the Franconia ridge trail which is a long hike covering five peaks. That is now on our cards too! One of the hikers was planning to ‘run’ the Pemi loop which is a 31 mile long loop covering multiple mountains. Now that’s intense! People are crazy, but these are the sorts of people from whom I get motivated to go that extra mile in life!
By sunset we reached back to the Greenleaf hut. Kate, the huts caretaker, greeted us and we signed in. The hut provides a fully equipped kitchen and we had supplies to cook food. Maggie (Indian noodles) and Sweet corn soup was our menu.
At such places, where a common goal of hiking unites all, people are very considerate. They help, support and also come to the rescue if you are in trouble. The same people who might flip you off on the streets of Boston, would come sit next to you and share their mountain experiences for hours, give you tips and also offer you water/food if you are out of it. Alexis was one such little girl. She might be 10 or 12 years old but volunteered to clean all the dishes that some people had left behind unwashed! Super obedient and quiet Alexis won my heart. I offered her some Maggie and soup.
After dining a well-earned dinner, it was the time to celebrate the hike and I took out the ‘good stuff’ along with some shot glasses! It was pitch dark. Me and Raghav were sitting outside, star gazing and drinking Vodka. Suddenly I saw a flash of three lights on the summit. I told Raghav but he flipped me off saying I was drunk! What an asshole! 😛 But after around 15 min, the lights came out again and this time even he saw them. We were super curious to know who was on the summit and what the hell was he doing there. Of course, imaginations took a leap. I was optimistic to see three gorgeous chicks climbing down the summit at midnight and Raghav’s mind was wondering in the supernatural world! But we weren’t sure that whoever that was, had they planned a night hike or was lost?!
The lights were coming towards the hut. We decided to wait and see. Well, I was a bit over optimistic. After about an hour, three male hikers (ofcourse!) reached the hut. We greeted them with applause. These guys had some balls in them! They were hiking for almost 14 hours and had aimed to reach the Galehead hut which is another 6 miles from Lafayette. Pitch darkness had forced them to change their path and take a break at Greenleaf hut instead. The hut was full, there was no place to crash. One of them suggested to keep moving! That was insane. Although they did not listen to him, just a thought of continuing at midnight after fourteen hours of hiking tells something about that guy! They had hammocks with them so I guess they decided to crash amongst the trees and call it a day.
We got up early morning next day. While having a hot beverage at the hut, I spent some time chatting with Kate, getting to know her more. She is from Pensylvania and was at the hut for last whole month managing all the operations so that hikers like us feel at home. That day was her last day at the hut and she was going to go back with tons of experiences. She said she would like to do this again. After waving her good day, we started our descent. Descending was fast and around lunch time we were back at the parking lot.
Surely it was a memorable hike on the Memorial Day weekend!
Mt Lafayette can be reached via multiple trails. The Greenleaf trail starts from the Canon Mountain campground and is a short but steep hike. The Old Bridal Path starts from across Lafayette campground. This trails is less steep, longer and has great scenic views. For more adventurous hikers, the Falling Waters trail is great. This reaches Mt Lafayette after crossing two mountains, Little Haystack and Mt Lincoln. The hut provides bunks with padding and pillows. In full service season, which starts after Memorial Day, blankets, dinner and breakfast is also provided at the hut. Water, food and some kind of sheets to cover you at the night are needed for an overnight hike.