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How Food Gets to Appalachian Mountain Club Huts

There are two ways to get food and supplies up to the Appalachian Mountain Club Hut in the White Mountains, by helicopter and on foot. Every May, each hut gets flown an average of 30,000 pounds of supplies including giant propane canisters, flour, soap, hot cocoa, tomato puree, sugar, and coffee, that will last through the summer season.

While helicopters have been used by the AMC to get supplies into the huts since the 1960’s, there is a weight limit of 800 pounds of supplies that can be transferred per flight, so it takes a lot of fights to move the necessary supplies.

For example, the 2009 airlift to Galehead Hut required 21 flights to move 16,800 pounds of food, including:

  • 1,450 pounds of flour
  • 300 pounds of hot cocoa
  • 178 pounds of brown sugar
  • 120 pounds of coffee
  • and 14,752 pounds of other supplies

Prior to helicopters, mules trains and day laborers were used to haul spring supplies to the high mountain huts.

The remainder of each hut’s “fresh and frozen” supplies are hiked in twice weekly by hut “croo” members who pack in up to 80 pounds of vegetables, fruit, meat and cheese at a time on wooden packboards and hike out garbage and recyclables. It’s a hell of a way to get in shape.

9 comments

  1. I guess that could account somewhat for the high price of a night's stay at the huts. They also end up flying out the poop at the end of the season, despite their very high-tech Clivus composting toilets. I was at Zealand a few years ago when they were shoveling out the catchers into 50-gallon drums for transport. Can you guess what kind of job I think that is? ;)

  2. It's not a perfect system, but it's better than having all those visitors drop their trash along the trails. All in, the AMC's strategy of helping more people experience the glory of the White is a pretty good way to build a lobby of people who would object tremendously to having them (the whites) overrun by commercial interests such as auto roads, hotels, water parks, snowmobile/atv trails, and more ski resorts. It seems to be working, afterall. Got to give the AMC credit.

  3. My uncle was hutmaster at Pinkham Notch many years ago, and they were not using helicopters. Everything went up on packboards, on foot. The guides used to race each other up the mountain, keeping time on the honor system.

  4. Earlier this summer when I hiked the Franconia Ridge Loop, I passed by about a half dozen “croo” members on their way up to the Greenleaf hut. I was astonished when I realized how much weight they were carrying! One guy easily had 80+ pounds of potatoes and other produce in a crate… He was carrying the crate with his hands, behind his back. There were no straps, no backpack, nothing… Impressive really.

  5. We asked about the propane the last time up. Thanks for the addt’l fun facts!

  6. Yeah for the AMC crew’s and caretakers. Fantastic, well run system. Can’t wait to do our hut to hut hike this summer and so very grateful we will not have to carry and cook food.

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