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Summer 2003
Heidi Hauenstein, E05, shows off her natural talent on one of her first ice climbs.
Ah, Winter!
Cold weather brings out the spirit of adventure at the Loj.

As I approach the base of yet another frozen waterfall, I get that feeling I always experience at the beginning of every climb: a mix of nervousness and excitement that blends into an involuntary impulse to swing the metal picks in my hands and the spikes on my feet into this frozen veil of ice. Squinting my eyes to battle the bitter winds and making sure I don’t grip my ice tools too tightly and restrict blood flow to my fingertips, I sink my picks deep into the ice as my crampons search for some purchase below.

I find a strange sense of joy and warmth in the day’s high temperature of 10°F.
Seventy feet later, I reach the top of the ice flow and look above the treetops into the undeveloped, snow-covered valley. I realize that there is nowhere else I’d rather be than the breathtaking backcountry of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

I am only one of hundreds of like-minded students who have discovered one of Tuftsí jewels, a cabin known affectionately as ìthe Loj.î Located two hours north of Tufts in Woodstock, New Hampshire, the Loj has been the home of the Tufts Mountain Club (TMC) since 1942. There have been three different structures; the first, a nine-room farmhouse, lasted about 20 years when it was destroyed by fire. The next Loj, also an older farmhouse, was condemned in 1996 and torn down. The most current incarnation is a beautiful log cabin constructed in 1999 under the leadership of James Moore, A99, and Amanda Hayman, A99. All year long, this little oasis in the hills, open to students and faculty from all campuses as well as alumni, is the perfect base camp for any outdoor recreation.

In the winter, when the pressures of exams and classes get to be too much, students well equipped with wool socks and parkas pile into the TMC van and head north, relishing the chance to savor cold-weather sportsófrom downhill skiing at one of the three resorts within a 15-minute drive of Woodstock to cross-country skiing right in the Lojís backyard. Others take on more extreme endeavors like snowshoeing up Mt. Moosilauke or climbing Mt. Washington and skiing the steep head walls of Tuckermanís Ravine. My good friend and climbing partner David Kaufman, A03, is one of those folks who enjoys taking on the latter.

ìThe Loj is a special and unique place,î says Kaufman. ìItís where people go to slow down and escape the chaotic and sometimes sleepless pattern of life at college. There is something wholly relaxing about sitting by the wood stove, looking out at the fresh white snow glowing in the moonlight while your body and your clothes dry out from a day spent climbing or skiing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.î

The Loj is capably run by a shared goodwill. Without formal assignments or duties, people always volunteer to make dinner. There is no TV, radio, Internet, or cell phone reception, making the Loj a great equalizer.

A brave few take on the elements to sit outside around a cracking fire and snack on símores under the stars. With interactions like these, you canít help but establish new relationships. I made friends at every visitówhether it was folks from the Brazilian Club, a reflective alumnus, or a freshman experiencing his first foray north.

One wall of the Loj, devoted to pictures of TMC members of years past, is a constant reminder of its history and traditions. There is also a journal that for decades has sat in the middle of the Loj in which people have recorded their favorite memories for others to enjoy. But the Lojís rendition of Thanksgiving probably best embodies the spirit of the place and how much it is treasured by Tufts students and alumni. Every February, the TMC celebrates ìThanksgivingî with a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all of the fixings; weíre celebrating the good fortune that no one was hurt when an earlier Loj burned down on New Yearís morning more than 31 years ago. Pies are baked corresponding to the current yearóin 1999, we baked 99 pies, and, of course, a cabin full of hungry college kids had no trouble eating them all.

I know I am not alone when I say that some of the best experiences of my Tufts career took place in Woodstock. I fell in love for the first time at the Loj and solidified many lasting friendships. I also deepened my love of the outdoors, which defines my life even today here in Jackson, Wyoming. Although Iíve found a new home in the West, a part of me will always call the Loj home. I consider myself lucky to have discovered one of the best escapes from the fast-paced, urban life on campus.

Jonathan Jones, E03, continues his love of the outdoors by working as production coordinator for Alpinist Magazine (www.alpinist.com) at the base of the Grand Tetons. For more on the Tufts Mountain Club and information on visiting the Loj, visit ase.tufts.edu/mountainclub.