Huts and glory: AMC's archives offer a wry peek at life on the high peaks
AMC Outdoors, July/August 2000
By Madeleine Eno and Katharine Wroth
In the summer of 1916, Milton MacGregor was hiking near the summit of New Hampshire's Mount Jefferson when he came upon two female English hikers. The women, who had been warned about the terrible behavior of both man and beast in the mountains, drew guns and aimed directly at him. Talking fast, MacGregor convinced them he posed no threat, and explained why he happened to be prowling the peaks. He described the AMC's Lakes of the Clouds Hut, where he was a crew member, as well as the other huts that existed at that time, Madison Spring and Carter Notch.
Two weeks later, "Red Mac," as he was known, saw the two women at the Ravine House in Randolph. His foes had turned friendly. "I was walking by—when one of the English girls jumped over a rail fence and ran toward me," he later wrote. "She told me how much she and her friend were indebted to me for telling them about AMC, because the 'hut fellows' had made their trip worthwhile."
Red Mac—whose own stint as a hut fellow led to a position as huts manager—is perhaps best remembered in two ways: as the man who hired the legendary Joe Dodge, who in turn transformed a few scattered White Mountains huts into the system that greets hikers today; and as the ghost who haunts Carter Notch Hut.
Yes, that's right, there are those who believe Red Mac never left the huts he loved so well. And his haunting is not the only story to come out of the huts' 112-year history. Because they hunker in one of the East's most unforgiving and transcendently beautiful environments, and because it takes a certain type of person to hike the steep and rugged trails to visit them—and especially to work at them—the AMC huts have spun out plenty of legends and lore. (The history of the huts is rich with heart-warming and humorous tales. Visit the links below for more of this article.)
—Madeleine Eno is publisher and co-editor of AMC Outdoors. Katharine Wroth is associate editor.