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Appalachian Mountain Club closes high huts


May 20, 2020
REGION — For the first time in AMC history, all eight White Mountain high huts will remain closed for the rest of the year. The Club's hiker shuttle service has been suspended as well. Both decisions were made as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a statement issued by the organization on May 11, AMC Representative Nina Paus-Weiler said, "These are painful conclusions for staff, volunteers, members and visitors alike. Please know that we come to them with our collective health and safety as our top priority."

The hut system has offered hikers a hot meal, restroom facilities and a bed for more than 125 years. Through-hikers have historically relied on the hut system for both shelter and access to running water.

In addition to the White Mountain closures the AMC has also shuttered the Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins in Greenville, Maine. While the organization first aimed for an early June reopening date of all club facilities and staff-led activities, that date has now been pushed out to July 1.

Local hiking enthusiasts will not be as impacted as tourists and through-hikers by the AMC's decision.

Rob Wisnouckas, a Triple Crown hiker and Whitefield resident said, "Locals aren't really the ones staying in them. It's tourism that drives the huts. I guess keeping them closed will keep tourists away."

Wisnouckas continued, "There are not many ways to sterilize everything that is shared in the huts. That's a great way for COVID-19 to spread. Hiking is dirty. No showers are available in the huts. Everyone is sharing rooms in close proximity and with poor ventilation. If even one person had COVID-19, I'm sure others would get it. Trails are still open, so being outside and hiking is still an option."

The AMC said they continue to monitor the recommendations of the CDC, WHO and regional governments. They encourage the public to limit outdoor engagement to short local outings that comply with New Hampshire's stay-at-home recommendations.

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