Wizened (adjective)- withered, shriveled, wrinkled as a result of aging or of failing vitality
A while ago, a college friend working for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) invited us to go hiking in New Hampshire. So we did last weekend. With many trails in the area to explore on a sunny Saturday in the late summer, cars overfilled the parking lots and spilled onto the shoulders of I-93. We were extremely lucky to have encountered a Subaru pulling out of its spot right by the trailhead. Now we had experienced the best part of the trip, we were almost ready to turn around and head back to Boston.
Instead, we hiked a short distance of 1.6 miles from Lafayette Place Campground to Lonesome Lake. Because of its accessibility, the location is a popular destination for families with young children. It happened that a school trip of third graders and their parents were spending a night at the hut. During the full-service season from early June to mid-October, a bunk for an adult is $130/night. Our friend put us up in the pantry between bags of onions and sacks of King Arthur flour. We got to stay for free and could snack on chocolate chips in the middle of the night. Again, what would possibly top this?
Two plates of chicken cacciatore later, we hiked up to the summit of Cannon Mountain. The weather was drastically different from a few hundred feet below, and the wind picked up. We managed to take a group photo at which my boyfriend later said he looked wizened (and no, he added, the word doesn’t mean wise).
I was surprised by how well-stocked the hut was. A helicopter drops off dry goods twice a year while the hut crew (spelled “croo” at AMC huts) packs in fresh produce and perishables. Although working at Lonesome requires summoning up patience to deal with screaming boys and girls asking to make hot cocoa every five minutes, it also means an easier trip to pack. For more remote huts, pack is an all-day affair.
Two tru-hikers joined us at dinner. With about 300 miles more to go, they were hoping to finish their journey at Katahdin by October 15th, the last day that camping is still permitted. They earned room and board by scrubbing pots and pans. We did so too by doing dishes.
The rest of the weekend went like this: fresh-baked challah and turkey pot pie, dishes, stargazing, eggs and pancakes, dishes, rounds of Splendor, nachos, hugs and goodbyes, pocket pancakes, Cascade Brook Trail, Pemi Trail, home… content and soreness.