You have probably heard me swoon over the lodge many times. I love everything about it. I love that every surface (the roof, the fireplace mantle, the railings, the chandelier) is treated like a giant jungle gym. I love the history that is so thick you can practically taste it as you explore. I love the sense of calm and excitement you can see transform every face that comes in through the front door. I love the fact that a single student chef makes food for each meal, making each visit a culinary adventure. I love the red dance floor, in my mind the best dance floor in the world. Most of all, I love the people that live, speak and breath the lodge.
Unfortunately, there is the other side. The lodge is 75 years old. When it was built, it was the biggest ski lodge in North America. It was the birthplace of american alpine ski racing, and with all that history also come a lot of wear. The floor has been reinforced with extra beams because it bows when people dance. Flushing the toilets is a bit like putting up a prayer. Who knows if the plumbing gods will answer. Logs are rotting out, and each time we need to lift the entire building to replace a log, it becomes harder to find logs that are wide enough to match the originals.
Needless to say, the lodge needs a 75 year update, and the college plans to do that starting this year, so we needed to make one last visit to the hallow ground. We decided to visit during one of the lodge’s many awesome parties. To no one’s surprise, a ton of other recent alums had also made the trip to visit the lodge, so you can imagine how the night went. Dancing, bonfires, swimming in the river and good food all ensued, with the best of people. Here is to lodge 2.0!
Every Halloween, the lodge hosts a giant dinner and dance party. This year’s party was awesome! I helped on crew, which means that I helped serve dinner to the 100+ people, and hung out in the kitchen. Great music, a great venue and even better people!
It’s Moosiauke Lodge’s 75th birthday. Most historic buildings in the US are treated very carefully. Caretakers wear slippers when they walk in these buildings. They are pristine, and there is a historic plaque on the wall. Not quite the same can be said for the Lodge.
The Lodge was built by hand 75 years ago in order to serve as a ski lodge for Mt Moosilauke. Not only was the building supposed to last only 7-10 years, but the logs that were pulled off the mountain to build the Lodge were the last of their size.
It doesn’t need a historic plaque. When you step foot on the red plank floor of the main room and look at the New Hampshire record size moose head from the 1940’s and the signs for the old Tip Top House that sat at the top of the mountain when Moosilauke had a rope tow, you can just feel it. Feel the years of dancing on the floor, the millions of fires that have warmed friends from the hearth, the hard work that students have put into the place from the very start, 75 years ago.
The only reason people wear fuzzy slippers in the Lodge is when it is cold. Every year, just about a thousand students literally shake the floor dancing during freshmen trips. During this, the Lodge caretakers put extra supports under the floor from the basement. During the rest of the year, the lodge has a crew of students that cooks breakfasts and dinners for guests, maintains the buildings and organizes events and dances. It is through these events that I have attended some of the best dance parties of my life, slept under the stars, learned how to sharpen an axe, helped hikers with their blisters, and found a release from the hustle and bustle of school.
Although I would love to come back and visit the same lodge in my 90’s like some of the alumni who were at the 75th anniversary dinner, I know that it is going to need to be rebuilt in my lifetime. Many of the conversations during dinner touched on the legacy, and I realized that with so many people that care about every inch of the lodge, that legacy will continue. The building may look different. It may even be insulated and clean, but it will still sit under Mt Moosilauke, and students will still dance the salty dog, pass down stories and enjoy the sky full of stars.
If someone asks me what helps me get through the ten-week pressure cooker term at school, I would have a pretty concise list. First would be mountain biking club. The DMBC isn’t the biggest club in the DOC, but we have 5 amazing trail networks within a 15 minute bike ride of campus. These are networks, not trails. I have been biking for three years here and still haven’t biked all the trails.
Since that is off my list at the moment due to my, em, healing neck, I would jump to next on the list – the woodshop. There are not any other colleges or universities that I know of that have a woodshop with free instructors for anyone with a project in mind. And I have lots of projects.
My third escape is the Lodge. The Mousilake Ravine Lodge, originally built in 1938 as a ski lodge, is an amazing social space for Dartmouth students and alums. It is a student run lodge with breakfast, dinner, amazing views and great events. Like tonight with Gin Fiddle playing some of my favorite folk songs!
After the struggle-bus that was yesterday’s Whaleback skin, I figured that redemption was in order; so I rallied two friends, Carolyn and Heather, to skin up Mt Mousilake. We arrived at the trailhead at noon and sunset was 5:00, so the clock was ticking. Heather has a huge stride so in no time at all it was clear that with my flu, I was going to be the slowest of the group. Despite the hacking cough I developed over the course of the 6 mile skin, it was a bucket of fun. From the looks of the track on the way up, we were only the third or fourth to go down and the cold weather was keeping the snow fresh and our pace up. At the top, the clouds parted for a view and I don’t think I could have asked for a better group of girls to rip down the mountain with.