Mt. Washington recorded a trace of snow this week, and just in time Lakes and Madison will be closing for the season. Winter comes to the alpine zone early. The dwarf birch are yellow, and the sedges are a the color of rust. The diapensia are turning back to the same purple and maroons that I wrote about back in May.
Eric Pedersen, the Huts Field Supervisor and I headed to Lakes and Madison early this week to help with the closings. After the last breakfast is served the crew starts bundling the wool blankets. At Lakes the 300+ blankets are tied into rolls of five and readied for the airlift. All the dishes, pots, pans, utensils and kitchen supplies are washed, dried, and stored in plastic bags. Every wood surface in the hut is scrubbed with bleach water to prevent mildew growth (leading to some innovative techniques: photo). All the mattresses are pulled from the bunks and scrubbed. All the remaining food is boxed, labeled, and stacked in piles for the airlift.
For three days the crews get up around 7am, and work from 8am until it gets dark at 8pm. This year brought perfect weather for closing. Bright sun and slight breezes helped dry the huts and their contents. As the crews headed down the trail CC arrived shut off the water and gas. Then the shutters are bolted over the windows and doors. The hut is left empty to the rime ice, snow and storms of the winter.