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Lange: The Haunted Hut

10/31/11 5:55PM By Willem Lange
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(Host) Halloween is the day we mortals get a look at the realm of spirits. Commentator Willem Lange has the story of a ghost who hangs around all year on a high mountain.

(Lange) If you climb mountains above timberline, you sometimes pass places where climbers ahead of you have died. If you climb really high mountains, you pass the climbers themselves, still there where they fell or froze. Even Mount Washington, only a few miles east of us, has claimed over 135 lives. Many of those who died are still up there in one form or another.

The Lakes of the Clouds Hut sits above timberline at 5000 feet on Mount Washington. It's where a raging sleet storm took the lives of hikers Alan Ormsbee and William Curtis in June 1900. The largest of the Appalachian Mountain Club huts, Lakes holds 90 hikers and a crew of seven. But even the bravest crew member won't spend a night alone there. An unidentified and very hostile presence haunts the hut.

Some years ago an AMC crew chief named George snowshoed up to the hut in early spring to check on its condition. When he failed to check in that evening or the next morning; a group set out to find out what, if anything, was wrong.

The hut door was unlocked. The hut was dark inside because the wooden winter shutters blocked the daylight. George's radio lay on a table with his gear. But no George, The crew hunted all through the hut with flashlights, and finally heard a whimper in the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. They found George, soaked in sweat, holding an axe, and pleading, "Get me out of here! Get me out of here!" Holding onto him, they escorted him to an ambulance waiting at the foot of the mountain.

Weeks later, George told his story. He'd just arrived, and decided to check around before radioing back to base, when he suddenly sensed something else in the dining room with him, about to put its hands on his shoulders. He stood up. He saw a grotesque, distorted face between the shutters and the window glass, glaring in at him. Then it was in every window. As he watched, it seemed to melt through the glass into the room. And that was all he remembered until he was safely down the mountain.

I stayed overnight at Lakes of the Clouds Hut last year on the night before it closed for the season. It was pretty crowded and jolly, but I couldn't get out of my mind that spirit waiting to get back in as soon as it was vacant for the winter.

I stepped outside. The wind was whipping clouds across the rocky col. I called, "Anybody out there?

I waited, and felt, more than heard, "Yesssss. Come back next week and ssssssseee."

This is Willem Lange in Montpelier, waiting for trick-or-treaters. Yessssss...can I help you? Bwa-ha-ha-ha.
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