AMC highlights?
October 25, 2010 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I just joined the Appalachian Mountain Club. How can I make the most of this membership?

I'm excited to finally have unfettered access to these great programs. So, what are your tips? Which of their lodges have you stayed at and loved? What programs were standouts? Do you go to the annual meeting and is it any good? Any tips welcome. I realize I'm in danger of just perusing the calendar, feeling overwhelmed by the options, and not prioritizing anything - so if you can give me a sense what you've especially enjoyed taking advantage of, I'd appreciate it very much!
posted by Miko to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Their August Camp, usually at a different location each year, is fantastic--huge range of hikes; they supply tents, camp cots, all the food and food preparation. Sign-up is January 1, and it fills up very fast. Just go on their weekly hikes--or go biking/kayaking/x-country skiiing to hear about the other options. I've heard good things about their weekend trips, workshops, etc. but never went to any. Haven't been to their lodges either but plan to now that I'm in New England.
posted by Elsie at 9:46 AM on October 25, 2010

Visiting Zealand Falls Hut in the winter is something truly special. If you can, go during the week and you might even have the place entirely to yourself (plus the caretaker). And if you have time, plan to stay a few nights and leave yourself plenty of time to explore, the Whites are really incredible in winter.

Of course, you don't have to be an AMC member to stay at their huts, but you get a small discount if you are.
posted by dseaton at 10:36 AM on October 25, 2010

Oops, screwed up the link for Zealand. Let's try that again.
posted by dseaton at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2010

I'm going to assume by your profile you're nearest the Boston chapter. What sorts of activities are you interested in?

I'm a long-time Boston chapter member (you're a member of the whole club and can join any chapter's trips, but most people tend to associate with their local chapter) who has done mostly hiking-related activities. Keep that in mind as you read this; your mileage may vary with other chapters / activity committees.

There's really two sides to the club. There's the club run trips, which can be pricey and which are often more like paying for a guided trips. I've not done those. Then there are the volunteer-run trips, which you'll find in the chapter activities section of the AMC Outdoors magazine.

I've met some great friends, including my wife (they don't call it the Appalachian Mating Club for nothing) through my years participating in and leading the volunteer-run trips. Often these can be had for nothing but the cost of the food and lodging if there is any. Although I got out of it for a while (I had a kid, it happens) I've been getting back into it lately, though not as much as I did before I became a dad.

Boston chapter website:

If you're interested in winter hiking, the Boston Chapter Hiking / Backpacking committee will soon be starting its winter hiking program. This is a 4 or 5 night program at the Joy St. headquarters with several optional trips associated with it. Great program to take, whether you're interested in snowshoeing in the Blue Hills, doing a winter backpack, or a long day up Mt. Washington. Lots of emphasis on heat management, gear choices, practical skills, etc. I highly recommend it, even if you do nothing more than walk to the train in the winter.


Again, I'm coming at this as someone primarily interested in volunteer-led hiking trips. I've never stayed at any of the White Mountain huts, though I've stopped in at all of them. It's just not my thing.

Cardigan Lodge. This is probably my favorite AMC-affiliated lodge. It's at the base of Mt. Cardigan, which is a smaller mountain comparable (though less crowded) to Monadnock. Although a smaller mountain it has an open summit and due to its isolation it can get some nice conditions on top. The Boston chapter's "intro" programs (Like the winter program I mentioned, as well as the spring into to hiking workshop) runs trips out of here. It sleeps about 50 or so and the many trips I've done there have been some of the more memorable.

Harvard Cabin. Not to be confused with the ice climbing cabin on Mt. Washington. This is a roadside cabin a few miles south of Pinkham Notch. Although owned by the Harvard Outing Club, The Boston Chapter AMC runs a monthly trip out of it. It's a rustic cabin (meaning it has an outhouse) and everyone sleeps in a loft. They do day hikes out of here, usually a hard one and a more beginner-oriented one. Group meals and everybody chips in. It's usually about $60.00 for the weekend.

It can be overwhelming at first. I'd suggest finding an activity you enjoy and just picking a trip. Call or email the registrar and see what happens. We're all used to talking to new members and most people don't become leaders unless they enjoy talking to folks.

A lot of the harder trips, especially hiking trips, have a screening process. Don't be intimidated by this and know if you're "screened out" of a trip it's only for your safety and that of the group's. It's a very welcoming club but it's also a cautious club. This works out for the best though as it ensures both leaders and beginners alike are qualified for the trips they go on. There are still plenty of trips that welcome beginners, and some designed specifically for them.

I've never been to any of the annual club meetings. I was on the Hiking/Backpacking committee for several years though. I also taught in the various Boston Chapter programs, including the leadership program. As I said though, this was many years ago and I've been out of The Loop for a while.

It just occurred to me that there is also an Andover Chapter, which may be closer to you. I've not done any of their trips. Don't be afraid to sign up for NH or ME chapter trips as well, though you'll find the personalities of each chapter is a bit different.

Some committees do social activities as well. Look into the Intro committee (Boston) for some of these. They do new member pot lucks, slide shows, nights out, etc. Not everything takes place in the woods.

Like every club, there are a few odd ducks that you'll run across. Most people are awesome though. Think of it as a Metafilter meetup with sleeping bags and GORP.

Good luck, and feel free to ask away here or via MeMail if you need any other tips. And if hiking in the Whites in bleak November interests you, sign up for the November Harvard Cabin trip. I'll be there.
posted by bondcliff at 10:57 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great help so far, thanks so much.

If it helps, I have a strong outdoors background (multiweek backpacking, dayhiking, canoe and kayak paddling, some cycling, a small bit of rock-climbing) so I am fairly capable all-round. I decided to join not only because I'd wanted to for a long time, but because my SO is not really the most eager camping/hiking type, and I don't want to miss out on that part of my life. I figured this would be a good way to get involved in overnight and longer trips and day programs with likeminded people, and not have to be on my own, or handle all the logistics myself.

Right now I'm very interested in learning XC skiing, and it looks like this might be a good way to get some instruction and practice, too.
posted by Miko at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2010

I'm in nyc and starting off doing the weekend day hikes as a way to 'get out in nature'. I then went on a couple of downhill ski weekends (there are not so many anymore) and met great people- was out to dinner with one on sat, two weddings in the past 2 years, etc etc. Plus I love skiing in vermont. There is also the fire island cabin which is fantastic. Basically it all depends on where you are. Do what you like in your local area first. xc skiing- great!! oh, i also started going to miramar (a nyc based ski club) out of my initial talks with people in amc...met great people there too, 5th year signing up. It is just a great way to pursue your own interests and meet a few good friends on the way- pretty good for $60 a year (or whatever it is this year!:).
posted by bquarters at 1:56 PM on October 25, 2010

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