Last fall the Hutmaster at Galehead was a fellow from Goffstown, NH named Dan St. Jean. This summer he will be the Hutmaster at Lakes of the Clouds. In the fall he will start law school at NYU. One does not become the Lakes Hutmaster, or a law student at NYU without a record of excellent work. As Caitlin and I worked to clean Galehead we were reassured that we chose the right man to run the Hut System’s largest hut this summer. Everything was clean, in it’s place, boxed, bagged, and labeled. Bags with sharp objects in them were labeled “Warning! Sharp!”

I suspect the labels were made by the Assistant Hutmaster, Ashley Coltin. Ashley moved to Portland, Oregon this winter, which allegedly has a high density of unemployed college graduates. Around Christmas I received a call from a manager at Filene’s Basement in a suburb of Portland. She wanted to know if Ashley could “make it” in a “fast-paced retail environment.” As a hutwoman who had worked a summer at Madison, been a hutmaster at Greenleaf, and done a terrific job closing Galehead I told the manager that Ashley could probably run the entire store. A few weeks ago I was glad to hear that Ashley found a great full-time job in Portland which will suit her abilities.

By this point the Ream Team is a finely oiled machine. After commuting the 8 miles down from Greenleaf and up to Galehead we were able to get the attic clean, the library stocked, and the kitchen set up. The camaraderie and comedy this hard work creates is perhaps the best part of the week, and of working on a hut crew.

In the evening as we ate dinner without a tv or radio we’d tell stories. Caitlin talked about getting altitude sickness while camping in a field of angry bulls on the side of a Mexican volcano. Lynne told hilarious stories of trying to maintain and explain her vegan diet while studying in China. Maia talked about living in Colorado for the winter and skiing into the 10th Mountain Division Huts. Anastasia acted out what happened when she met a grizzly mother and her cubs in a willow thicket in the Alaskan bush. Liza’s boyfriend is hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer, and she talked about hiking in the Smokies with him. Selena told a painfully funny story about being a teenager. When she was in junior high she moved from Maine to Massachusetts and the popular girls were mean to her. One of them got an L.L. Bean windbreaker that Selena liked. Her mom overheard her admire it and ordered one for her. When she showed up at the bus stop in it all the mean girls tossed their hair-sprayed bangs at her and said “What? So you think you can be cool just by copying Lisa?” and turned away.

Time has a compressed quality during the week of cleaning in May. The long hours of daylight and the long days of work make the week seem like a month. I get to know the personalities of the cleaning crew better than people I see everyday in the valley. It is satisfying to watch the “This hut is operated for the public” sign (photo) go up at Galehead and to know how much scrubbing, sweeping and cleaning came before it. My thanks to this year’s croo for all their hard work.