I realized I’ve written about out of work adventures, but not much about the day to day life of AMC’s Storehouse at Pinkham Notch. So for the next few posts, I’ll explain the daily “grind” which usually isn’t a grind at all. The job constantly changes and that’s one of the things I love about it. When people ask what I do, there isn’t a stright answer. Logistics covers a lot of bases. That’s the easy answer but one that’s way too simple! For the time being, I can boil the job down to a few main tasks:
1. Packing the right food in the right amount for AMC backcountry trips, shelter caretakers, and huts.
2. Delivering food to the right place at the right time.
3. Keeping Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center up and running as a remote but fully functioning hotel, janky apartment complex,, environmental education center, and highway rest stop (delivering mail, recycling, bank runs).
I’ll get to all of these in more detail eventaully but for now I can tell you about number 2–the driving.
It occurs behind the wheel of various larger than average vehicles. Tons of food needs to get to remote places in the North Country and Storehouse organizes it getting there all safe and tucked up in boxes for the hut croo to grab at the bottom of the mountain. The places where we meet them are called pack houses. These deliveries happen twice a week and are called truck trips. The pack houses are divided up along two routes, East Trip and West Trip. East Trip includes driving up the Mount Washington Auto Road to the Lakes of the Clouds packhouse, back down to Pinkham to drop off all their trash and load up the food for Carter and Madison. This route takes from (9:00 to around 1:00pm with a stop in town to get any groceries we need, hit up the post office and the bank if needed. West Trip consumes an entire 7:30-4:00pm shift as you deliver food to Lonesome Lake, Greenleaf, Galehead, Zealand, and Mizpah. But the best part of this trip (besides the glorious green tunnels of Franconia and Crawford Notches) is that we can eat lunch at the Highland Center. And it takes all day which means I can pretend its a road trip for a while before I remember that I’m driving a huge truck down the road with very important contents which must get to the pack houses at the exact scheduled time.
In addition to delivering food, we also drive around the Teen Wild programs to the beginnings of their adventures and pick them up at the end. I rencently drove a University of New Engand orientation canoe trip out to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in Maine. Such great countryside. Even “rotten Rumford” didn’t smell! It had a Midwestern grunge charm in my opinion.
Then there are the weekly recycling trips to the Berlin dump which ensure AMC Pinkham Notch maintains its earth friendly karma. I did my first dump trip last week with my boss. The dump trip includes driving my favorite larger than average vehicle: the stake bed! It’s a long green painted dinosaur, very old, with shakey steering. Four years ago, Storehouse workers hit a deer on the way to an airlift and its never been the same. We load all the recycling barrels from the shed onto the back of the stakebed and weigh down the lightest items with heavier ones. Then, I’m crusing super slow down Route 16, getting a huge line up of Massachusetts tourists behind me and not caring. I talk to my boss about her old job in Montanna as a construction worker. At the dump, we’re the only women there and my boss notes that the dudes dropping off their recycling are all staring over at us as I back the stake bed up to the depository. Good thing I didn’t hit anything that day!
In general, driving is one of the best parts of this job. In such a remote location, it’s a godsend to be let out of the mountainous cage every once in a while. Sometimes I feel like a little animal walking around the bank or post office. I’m not supposed to be in public and everyone’s staring at me! They can tell how long it’s been since I’ve showered.