In a departure from my normal topic, running, I’d like to spend the next few days telling you a bit about a lovely weekend I spent in the Whites with the Appalachian Mountain Club.
I participated in an AMC Women’s Adventure Weekend – on the docket was 48 hours of kayaking and hiking near Pinkham Notch with like-minded women.
Part Two: Accommodations
I arrived at Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center and zipped into the parking lot to the left where there were fewer cars. It was sprinkling a bit, so I left my gear in the car and headed straight up to Joe Dodge Lodge to check in.
Pinkham Notch, in Jackson, NH, is nestled at the base of the eastern side of Mount Washington. It is a few minutes away from the Mount Washington Auto Road to the north and Glen Ellis Falls to the south. It’s also very close to Wildcat Mountain ski area. Basically, there’s a ton to do in the immediate vicinity. One doesn’t need to look too far for adventure, regardless of the season.
Check in at Joe Dodge Lodge was a breeze. Since I was a participant in an AMC program, they handled getting my room reservation all set. All I had to do was show up, say hi, and get a key to my room. I stayed in the Christmas Fern room, which is on the second floor, all the way at the end near the library. It had two twin beds and a bunk.
Joe Dodge Lodge was an ideal place to stay. They provide linens and towels – it’s nice not to have to bring your own! The beds are quite comfortable, though a little squeaky. There are several hooks on the walls for hanging gear, as well as some cubbys to stash stuff rather than leaving it on the floor. The twin beds had small stools at the end of the bed. Each bed/bunk had its own power outlet, so rest assured… you will be able to charge your electronics. There’s no cell service in Pinkham Notch, but they do have free WiFi which works really well, so you’re not completely out of touch with the outside world.
I did end up rooming with three other women from the Women’s Adventure Weekend, which was nice. When I checked in, the woman running the lodge desk mentioned that my group had been upgraded from a bunk room. I think I might have liked to have everyone in one room, kind of like a sleepover. That said, ear plugs are a MUST if you’re a light sleeper or are sleeping in a room with people you aren’t familiar with (ie: what if they snore?). If you forget to bring your own ear plugs, you can purchase a pair in the Visitor’s Center for $0.50.
After heading back out to my car to grab my stuff and stash it in my room, I walked around for a few minutes to get the lay of the land. There’s a living room near the front desk – it has a fireplace, tons of cozy seating, and several tables for games. They have basic coffee service in the living room in the mornings before breakfast at the Visitor’s Center gets started.
At the other end of the building was the library. It also has a fireplace, cozy seating, and a table for games. It also has a small loft area on the second floor with some rocking chairs, accessible by a spiral staircase from the main library space, or from the second floor guest rooms. It’s stocked with all kinds of books, but many of them are about the White Mountains. I picked up a book about Joe Dodge, the namesake of the lodge. Dodge was something like the father of the AMC hut system in the Whites. He rebuilt five huts, and built three new ones in the 51 years living in the area. He was so familiar with the terrain that he was instrumental in many search and rescue efforts. If you know anything about the Whites and nothing about Dodge, the book is worth a read. It tells an interesting story about the Whites in the 20s and 30s. You can find it on Amazon.
There are men’s and women’s bathrooms on each floor. The bathrooms are clean and the showers run nice, hot water. There are several sinks and bathroom stalls, so lines in the morning were never an issue. There are only two showers on the second floor – I’m not sure about other floors. There are hooks to hang your towels (but I wouldn’t recommend bringing in all of your clean/dry clothes, and a bench to leave a couple things. The bench and hooks are shared between the two showers, and the floor in this area can get wet, which is why I wouldn’t recommend bringing all of your dry stuff.
Out in the hallways, there are several nooks where there are hooks or shelves located directly over heaters – I assume that’s very handy in the winter months for drying outer layers and boots!
The Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center is a few steps away. There’s a nice shop for some last-minute items, including snacks, maps, and layering pieces. There’s also a dining hall. They host a breakfast buffet 6:30am – 9:00am which offers MANY choices, and everything is delicious! There’s hot breakfast (a mix of items such as pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, frittata, eggs, seasoned potatoes, etc); there’s cereal, muffins, breads and bagels, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and baked beans on a table in the corner; and there’s a cold bar in the dining hall with cottage cheese, chopped fruit, spreads for toast, and several sauces to spice up your eggs. They offer a couple types of juice, coffee, and tea, too. This is all included for guests at the lodge, but visitors can pay to eat at the dining hall.
For lunch, soups and sandwiches are offered 9:30am – 4:30pm. However, for those staying the night at the lodge, guests are able to reserve trail lunches for a fee (I believe it was around $12) the night before, but they were included in the cost of the adventure weekend. The lunches were pretty big – you fill out an order form to craft a sandwich (deli meats, veggies, cheese, hummus, PB&J), and you get a bunch of snacks, including fresh fruit, a piece of cheddar cheese, trail mix, granola bars, and fig bars. It’s actually a lot of food, but it’s easy to plow through all of it during a long day on the trails.
For dinner, the Visitor’s Center does a buffet 5:30pm – 7:30pm and offers meat and vegetarian options. Plus, there’s dessert! On Friday night they had this delicious chocolate cake (it looked suspiciously like chocolate carrot cake, and tasted amazing), and Saturday they had pumpkin pie to go with their famous turkey dinner. Everything was delicious… and it was the perfect balance of protein, veggies, and carbs to fuel up for long days out on the trail the next day.
There are amenities for visitors who aren’t staying at the lodge. The basement level has men’s and women’s restrooms with shower access – I’m sure this is handy for AT thru-hikers, since the trail passes right behind the Visitor’s Center! There’s access to fresh water for refilling your water bottles, and there are also vending machines down there. My guess is that this area is inaccessible when the Visitor’s Center is closed, but for people passing through after-hours, there’s a building with bathrooms right behind the main building, near the trail sign.
Fun Fact: The water in the Lodge and Visitor’s Center is safe to drink, but it tastes like sulfur… if you’re interested in delicious water, there’s a spring a short walk away from the Visitor’s Center. If you take a right out of the parking lot onto Route 16, there’s a spring a short walk down toward Glen Ellis Falls on the right side of the road. It’s a small white PVC pipe low down to the ground. There are wooden pallets around it, and it’s marked with pink ribbon tape on a stick. I was nervous about developing stomach issues drinking untreated water, but I drank it both days and didn’t have any problems. It was so fresh!
Official information about Pinkham Notch can be found at their website.
Next up, Part 3: Kayaking with Great Glen Trails