If you think a seasonal job working for AMC in the remote corners of New England can’t be matched, prepare to have your world turned upside down, almost literally. The following AMC employees spend their off-seasons working and living in some of the most far-flung places on Earth. For these adventurous souls—Jeremy Day, Construction Crew member; Chris DeMasi, Zealand Falls hutmaster; and Sam Derrenbacker, A Mountain Classroom educator—new experiences make the world turn.
What did you do during the last off-season?
Day: I worked in air cargo at the McMurdo Station, the United States’ research center in Antarctica.
DeMasi: I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail northbound.
Derrenbacher: My husband, Perry, and I refurbished the inside of a bright-yellow Sprinter van, called the Bumblebee, into a mini-home that we live in year-round.
What led you to this off-season endeavor?
Day: Ever since I heard about the ability to work in Antarctica, it was something I tacked on to my mental to-do list. It’s somewhere hard to get to, with that “Holy crap, I’m here!” feeling, and it’s also rife with incredible natural beauty, even in the places where it’s completely desolate.
DeMasi: I have lived and worked along the Appalachian Trail for most of my life, and the trail has been a central aspect of many formative experiences. Attempting a thru-hike was a cool way for me to honor those experiences.
Derrenbacher: For a young couple with nothing to lose, it made sense financially and in practicality. Perry is a boatswain’s mate in the U.S. Coast Guard; hence we move regularly. We love the flexibility of living in a van. It makes moving for an amazing job or to be closer to the things we love so easy.
What are the perks?
Day: A huge part of it is the uniqueness of the place, both the actual location and the community. There’s a lot of live music, interesting art, little scavenger hunts you can have around the station to find odd relics or sculptures, a surprising number of foot races, and some hiking.
DeMasi: To be outside and active every day, living a simple, low-stress lifestyle for about five months straight.
Derrenbacher: There are so many! We can be the first ones up a mountain after fresh snow, and we never have to pack to travel someplace cool. But the biggest perk is leaving behind the technologies that distract you from the world around you and the incredible people in it.
Are there any shortcomings?
Day: The big ones are long times away from loved ones, the lack of plants and readily available fresh food, and the constant daylight.
DeMasi: While thru-hiking is essentially a vacation, it is the toughest vacation of all time. It’s physically exhausting and mentally challenging.
Derrenbacher: It’s not always fun having to find a gym in the winter to take a shower. And with our completely different schedules, it can be hard to juggle who has the van and where it’s parked.
What lessons have you learned during the off-season?
Day: That sense of community is hugely important to a place. It’s fantastic to go back and forth from two communities, AMC and Antarctica, that feel like home now. They’re full of the most interesting, caring, and adventurous people I’ll ever meet.
DeMasi: I’ve learned the true value of a hot shower, hot food, and a warm, dry place to sleep. These things go a long way in boosting one’s mental well-being. Helping thru-hikers is great, but we should also look to help those in true need with these services.
Derrenbacher: The time we spend together has become more precious. We focus more on each other and the environment around us, and less on computer screens and the stresses of caring for a stationary home.
Interested in working for AMC’s trail crew, hut system, or backcountry campsites? Check out our full- and part-time job listings.