How Hiking 50 Miles May Just be the Time of Your Life
Who ever said hiking 50 straight miles was fun?? Dartmouth students. Three terms a year to be exact. Given the snowy, sub-zero, “Hanover-is-the-Arctic-tundra” nature of many of the latest blog posts, I thought it’s about time to through it back to warmer days and highlight one of my favorite events that occurs every spring, summer and fall term at Dartmouth: The Fifty.
The Fifty is a continuous 53-mile hike from campus to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge (or vice versa) that tests the mettle of even the most seasoned hikers. Eight teams of four students are selected through a lottery each term, and they set off from Hanover the designated Friday morning to reach the Lodge the following Saturday afternoon or evening.
Every 10 miles or so, there is a support station manned by Dartmouth students with food and extra gear the hikers prepare ahead of time. Each station also has a “safety dork,” who is in charge of checking in with each hiker to make sure they are physically and mentally prepared to continue on with the hike.
This past summer, I was the support station chief at Atwell Hill, which is about 20 miles in and the second station when starting the hike at the Lodge. Our station chose a “Hippie” theme, giving us a chance to vibe to some great music and utilize some of our colorful Dartmouth flair!
Since most of the hikers had started around 11AM and were reaching us around sundown, our job was to provide a hearty meal to power them through the next 10-mile overnight section of the hike. Our food of choice was burritos, complete with refried beans, rice, stir-fried veggies, salsa, and Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese (a staple of all Dartmouth outdoor activities).
The entire experience was a blast. All the hikers were in high spirits when they reached us, despite a short-lived downpour they had hiked through. We helped them change into dry clothes, socks, and shoes, doctored any blisters starting to form, and made sure they were able to enjoy a burrito or two and one of our “special hippie brownies” (a.k.a. plain old regular, but delicious brownies).
In between groups of hikers, we listened to the sound of the rain while one of our support team members read The Little Prince in brilliant storytelling style. It was a wonderful moment to step off of campus into the beautiful New Hampshire wilderness while maintaining a tangible sense of community, something I have been fortunate enough to often find during my time at Dartmouth.
Spending time outdoors has always been a source of catharsis for me, especially when surrounded by great friends. On this particular adventure, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two of my good friends from the Dartmouth Triathlon Team, Sonia Rowley '19 (right), and Catherine Rocchi '19 (left).
So how does one hike 50 miles and have fun while doing it? I'd say there's no better way to start than to step off campus with a group of close friends and embrace everything the Great Outdoors has to offer.
Special thanks to the Omelet Guy for letting us use his tarp to keep dry from the rain!