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
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
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.