Tag Archives: Loj

Visiting the Loj – a memoriam

Visiting the Loj – a memoriam

31-March-15 through 01-April-15


The Loj was my home.

I’ve lived in many places over my life…  My childhood home is important to me, but a lot of the others begin to blend together.  My first apartment, my first dorm, this city of that town… they were places to live.

My home was the Loj.

Why was it a home, when the others weren’t?  I’d put time and love into that building.  I’d spent five years earning the right to the set of keys that I carry on my keychain.  I always have them, right by my car fob and my apartment keys.  They remind me that no matter what happens, I have a place that I can escape to; a place that I can run away and hide.  A place where I’ve spent countless weekends, limitless adventures, and created more memories than I could ever remember.  I felt safe in the Loj; warm and welcome, no matter where life took me.


And then, it was gone.

On January 15th I got an email saying that, the night before, there had been a fire.  The entire building was lost, though thankfully none of the people staying there had been majorly injured.  The general thought was that the propane refrigerator had sparked and caught the main structure ablaze.  By the time the two guys staying there were awakened by the choking smoke and shattering glass, no amount of fire extinguishers could have helped.  The building was lost, razed to the ground.

I was useless for the entire rest of that day.

I didn’t believe it.  I couldn’t believe it.

My home, my refuge… was gone?  Just like that, without any fight or battle?  There hadn’t been a drawn out “how can we save it?  What can we do?”

This wasn’t a damaged roof, or a cracked wall; The email I got told a story of complete destruction, with fires still smoldering days after the fact.


I wanted to go up immediately.  I made plans, and then plans fell through.  Then I was laid off from Artisan, and my life was thrown into turmoil.  I had nowhere to run away to, so I buried myself in work – applying to jobs, revising resumes, and spending an inordinate amount of time in the climbing gym.

But finally I’d had enough – I would not put it off any longer.  I cleared a few days.  I ignored the recruiters who called me incessantly.

Ben, you have no time to go camping when looking for work” they said.

Thank you for the advice… but actually, I do.  I’m already doing it.” I replied.



The visit itself was… anti-climactic.  I expected it to be… more?  Just more, somehow.  I wanted a sense of closure, of emotion and epic crashing waves.  I wanted to hear thunder and lightening.

But instead, it just… was.

There was a skyline, where there should have been a roof.  There was a view of the mountains where I should have seen a wall, and a pile of burnt-out tin roof tiles where there was a strawberry patch.  In place of the tool shed, with its chaotic piles of rope and tool and gizmos, there was a pit with blackened metal; the remnants of axes and paint cans.

But over it all, there was quiet.

It was honestly a beautiful day – warm for this time of year, and almost cloudless.  The sun was bright and the wind wasn’t too loud.

I poked around for hours – taking pictures, looking for trinkets that I remembered, and hoped against hope had somehow survived.  None of them had.


As night fell, I finished setting up my camp down by the river.  I couldn’t stand the thought of camping in the rubble – it was too high and exposed to the wind, for one… and it just didn’t seem right, somehow.  It was a gravesite, and staking out a tent there wasn’t an option.

So I ate, slept, and the temperatures dropped.

They had dropped a lot, by the time I woke up.  When I checked the temperature a few hours after getting moving, it was still only 12 Deg.F… but I still dutifully woke up, ate a nice oatmeal breakfast, and got myself moving to take some more pictures and do some more poking.  I took a hike up the Ledges, trying to warm up my muscles, but they were having none of that.

I called it a little bit after noon, when the day was finally at its warmest.  I couldn’t stay over night again – it wasn’t getting warmer, and if I stayed I’d probably have to leave a few toes behind.  So I packed up my tent, stuffed the sleeping bag into its compression sack, walked back down to the car, and pulled onto the highway.


I didn’t go straight home, of course… but I left the lodge grounds.  There still wasn’t the crashing sense of closure that I had been looking for… but packing the car and pulling back onto Route 2 seemed almost normal.

I could tell, somehow, that I’d be coming back soon enough.  This trip was special, but it wasn’t anything too far out of the ordinary.

This wasn’t an ending.  It just was.





Pictures of the Loj itself



Pictures of the surroundings


A spur-of-the-moment trip to the Loj


What to do on a Friday night, when I don’t have any plans until Sunday… why not go to the Loj?

Friday through Sunday, 18-Apr-2014 through 20-Apr-14

Friday, 18-Apr-14

My favorite part about being on the Loj committee is that I can always escape the city if I want to, and go up to the Loj.

So when I found myself bored on a Friday evening, with no plans to meet people or do anything until Sunday afternoon… well, it doesn’t take long to pack a quick overnight pack, put my tent and sleeping bag in the car, and start out onto 93 Northbound.

First stop on the road to adventure was Chilis, for some delicious baby back ribs.  Since it’s passover, burgers were right out… same with Nachos, I’m afraid.  unfortunately the chef was a little mistake, and didn’t put any of the delicious into the ribs when I showed up; fortunately, I had Farenheight 451 with me to read, so that distracted me from the fact that the ribs were horridly dry.  I think I’m going to start cooking my own ribs, from now on…

(Ed note: look forward to Ben posting a babyback rib recipe soon!)

From there, the highway called.  So tunes were cranked up, the top was put down, and I roared off toward Gorham.

Saturday, 19-Apr-14

The night before I had set up my tent out back, in my usual little spot, and spent a bit of time chatting and catching up with the folks who’d showed up to the Loj.  From there, and after a bit of breakfast, I started walking out toward Shelbourne-Moriah…

  • I’d found a pair of snowshoes near the Loj, evidently just now thawing out from the winter.  Nice.  Took them along, because I heard rumor that the snowpack was pretty deep up near the top of the trail.
  • Getting across connor brook was… interesting.  The snowmelt had raised the river, so I had to do a bit of dramatic rock-hopping to make it across.
  • Honestly, the rest of the hike blends itself together.  I stopped by the river for an early lunch, and then followed the trail up into the woods as far as I could go.  Snowshoes became necessary when I went above the melt-line, but aside from that it was just a standard-issue relaxing hike.
  • Read some more of Fahrenheit 451; it’s a good book, once you get pack the excessive prose.
  • Didn’t get all the way up, thanks to losing the trail in the snow, but it was still a quite successful day of walking and relaxing and eating.
  • headed back to the Loj, arriving with a few hours to spare before sundown, and relaxed around the fire until it got dark, finishing up 451 and moving onto my next book – a Warhammer novel that my step-dad lent me.
  • Dinner consisted of a variant stir-fry; apples, chicken, onions, pinapple, and some other extras thrown in on top.  Quite delicious.
  • Evening spent relaxing before bed, then heading back to the tent.
  • Sleep was… difficult.  The pad was comfortable enough, but unfortunately I was leaving early in the morning to meet a friend… which meant sleeping early.  But I was the only one aiming for that – I’m pretty sure there was some full “ritual of spring” going on at the Loj that evening.  Whatever it was, it required large fires, lots of pots and pans, and definitely kept on into the night…


**continued below**


Sunday, 20-Apr-14

  •  Woke up early, and made myself a nice light breakfast for the road.  The goal was to be leaving before 8:30, and I was walking down the trail by 8:35. Not bad.
  • Took a few things of trash – the advantage to a convertible is that it’s really easy to haul stuff like that, as long as it doesn’t leak.  Thankfully, none of them did… but I made sure to put a small blanket down first, just in case.
  • The drive back to Boston was ideal – relaxing, warm, and sunny.  I enjoyed myself immensely.
  • Once home, relaxing and working in the garden.  Crysee was supposed to meet me around 14:00, but unfortunately she got sidetracked meeting up with some friends… which was actually nice, since it gave me some more time to work through the front yard, getting it ready for the coming summer…

NUComers weekend, 2013



Thursday through Monday, 10-Oct-13 through 14-Oct-13

Every year, throngs of Freshmen descend upon the Loj.

It’s almost an annual migration, if we looked at it from that standpoint.  Each fall, vanloads of city kids drive the four or five hours North, leaving their cozy homes in Boston to brave the cold mountains of New Hampshire.  They make their temporary home at the end of a short trail, go on hikes, eat, and meet new people.

It’s fun to watch, and even more exciting to talk with people who’ve never been out into the real mountains like this.  People who came to Northeastern from Mexico, Europe, or simply just other states.  They all have an interesting story to tell, if you’re willing to listen.

And so, I drove up.  Not on Friday though – I met up with two friends, John and Kelly, on Thursday night so that we could take full advantage of the long weekend.  Four days of living at the Loj, hiding away from city life and work.

Thursday, 10-Oct-13

  • Leave work, head to Loj with John and Kelly
  • We grab dinner at Chilis – nothing special, but for some reason this has become somewhat of a tradition for me.  It seems that every time I drive up to the loj, I stop in at this specific Chili’s for dinner.  I don’t mind this.
  • And as we drive up… I get my first Speeding ticket in the new Mustang.  It was right in Concord, as I was merging onto the highway.  I got a bit energetic with my acceleration, and went from the ramp up to 85 mph in less than 10s… more than fast enough for the cop to notice me.  Though I didn’t notice him until after he pulled out from his little hidey hole.
  • The rest of the drive was simple and clean – and we made it up to the Loj by 11:30 at night.  From there we relaxed, made some tea, and hit the hay without any special theatrics.

Friday, 11-Oct-13

  • The only day we had without throngs of people started slowly.  I got up late, after Kelly and John had already started getting things done around the Loj grounds. We hung out, had a slow breakfast, and generally relaxed and enjoyed being away from the city.
  • After a bit, I headed out for a hike, with the secondary goal of trying to find a new campsite for the weekend.  Most of my old sites had been encroached upon, so this year I wanted something isolated, yet roomy enough for not only myself, but Kelly, Terese, and Daniel.
  • I hiked down one of the main trails toward the near mountains, and found a small site.  A good bit of the morning was spent clearing it out and making it hospitable to our tents / hammock.  Time well spent, however.
  • Food?  Lunch.  Quesadillas!
  • The rest of the day was simple, and spent relaxing and reading on the back porch.  Nothing special, except for the standard sense of serenity that the Loj brings on.
  • Terese had taken a half day of work, so she was able to make it up to the Loj right around 4:30 in the afternoon – perfect time for us to take a bit of time and relax, hike around a bit, and for me to give a full tour of the Loj.
  • A second lunch was consumed, as well as a light dinner made.  Simple.
  • While waiting for everyone to show up, Kelly, John and myself started up a game of Lord of the Rings Risk.  It was excellent, though ended in the expected way of John completely curb-stomping both of us.
  • We all hang out on the back porch for a bit, just relaxing and enjoying the Loj.  Terese and I take a walk around so that I can give her the full tour, but it’s honestly a rather nice and laid back evening.
  • People start showing up, and we start a nice cheery fire for all the new kids to come up to.  While people keep it going, Daniel finally shows up so we all head down and set up camp while the nights partying really gets going.
  • Hang out with people, shoot the breeze, and relax.  Good start to the weekend…

Saturday, 12-Oct-13

  • Saturday?  Saturdays were designed to be slow and relaxed.  So when I hear the screams and bugle of the folks up at the Loj, I simply roll over and go back to sleep.
  • We finally get moving mid-morning, and head up to make some quick lunch before everything disappears.  Daniel and I cook up some extra breakfast, and then finish up planning our climbing for the day… the goal is Cathedral, and we leave the Loj to start it up sometime around 10:00.
  • Climbing with Daniel at Cathedral happens.  See the post specific to this.
  • When we get back, dinner is being finished up.  Nice timing!  As per NUComers standard, dinner Satursday night is Baked ziti, followed by relaxing on the back porch and sipping Gin & Tonic.  Well, the second part isn’t really standard, but it’s still awesome 🙂
  • From here, we kept up the standard – kicking on the back porch, alternating with hanging out by the fire and listening to people’s stories.  I think at some point we had a competition between people about how quickly they could start a fire?  Not 100% sure.  Was a good night, either way.

Sunday, 13-Oct-13

  • And as with Saturday, Sunday was started out slowly.  Even more slowly today though, sinec Terese was heading back to Boston before any adventures started out… so we didn’t really want to rush breakfast or anything.
  • After breakfast was done and people left, Daniel and I set about exploring the Ledges.  They’re huge cliffs (see the post specific to this) that could be perfect for climbing… if only someone were to set them up…
  • After finishing our leaders recon trip, Daniel packed up his gear and rolled out from the Loj.  That left me bored and alone… and what happens when you leave an Engineer bored and alone?  He finds other engineers.  And then they rebuild the sweat lodge, which is, at its core a huge steam sauna.  Nice.
  • Again as it traditional, Sunday night dinner was a nice and simple Chili – Delicious, especially when combined with corn bread and cheese.
    • My entertainment of dinner – I ate with a group of sophomores, three girls and a guy.  One of the ladies had her eye on this boy, whom she’d met on the hike earlier in the day.  So she was telling stories about working with troubled pre-teens… and had him act out what they’d do to her.  Specifically, biting and hair pulling.  Yeah.  That’s one way to flirt with a guy – have him pull your hair and bite your upper arm.  Classy.
    • Speaking of classy… the Sweat loj.  It was excellent, and we made full use of the massive bonfire that we started right next to it.  Tons of hot rocks were used, and gallons of water were poured onto them to make the steam for our comfort.  That’s all there is to say, really.
    • At one point I did have to play LC though – I was walking back up to the Loj to make myself another Gin & Tonic, when I ran into a group of three guys trying to help a single extremely drunk lady down the path.
      • I find out that she’d sprained her ankle earlier that day on a hike, but now wanted to go swimming to ease the pain.  Obviously a horrible idea, when you consider how treacherous the swimming hole is at night… not even taking into account how drunk she was.
      • So I sent two of the guys to find her friends to help out (and get the crowd a bit thinner), and then guided her back up to the Loj where I firmly plopped her into a chair, and then put a brace on her ankle.  Why no one had done that, I have no idea.
      • From there… well, she became her roommates problem.
      • More gin & tonic was followed by more sweat lodge, which was then followed by relaxing and stargazing before falling asleep.

Monday, 14-Oct-13

  • Slow and relaxing morning, but a bit less so than previously, since everything still needed to be packed up and such.
  • One of John’s roommates had come up, so they drove back to Boston together, which left Kelly and myself in charge of when we left… yeah.  No time soon.  Reading and sunbathing on the back porch definitely happened for a while, once the Loj was closed up.
  • We did hit Tilton Diner on the way back to Boston, but aside from that we took the straight-shot drive home.  No speeding tickets (thankfully), and nicely uneventful.
  • Home & relax