I did a 2 night trip in the White Mountains of NH with a group of other folks at the end of July. We stayed at Carter Notch Hut (3,300 ft elevation) for both nights, which (combined with it's relatively low elevation made) for a great introduction to the Whites for my 7 yr. old son. My brother-in-law Ron, his son Todd, and my niece Lindsay also came along this year.
If you're not familiar with the hut system in the Whites, it's not like other shelters along the AT. You need to make reservations in advance ($90/night), but you get a bunk, blankets, pillow, dinner and breakfast, along with use of the facilities and interaction with the hut crew. Because of that, you get hikers with a wide range of backgrounds, hiking experiences, and outlook.
Much of the hike was along a gentle, but steady uphill trail along a creek. It was great hiking weather with no bugs. While Chris & I opted for the fairly easy 4 mile hike up to Carter Notch Hut (1,900 ft gain), many of the others took the longer, steeper, & harder route over Carter Dome. The trails reconnected at Carter Notch, where two lakes were formed during a large rock slide in 1869.
Looking eastward with Wildcat in the background. We would climb up that the next day.
There is some fun scrambling in the Ramparts, which resulted from the rock slide. Carter Dome behind us was occasionally lit up when the clouds passed.
Carter is one of the smaller huts, and is below treeline, so it was hard to get a good photo of the hut. Even below treeline, the winds got up to >60 miles/hr as the weather tried to squeeze through the notch.
The crew cooks, cleans, educates, and entertains the guests.
Staying at the huts is definitely a different experience than other backcountry excursions, but it did have advantages in terms of socializing and eating.
My brother-in-law Ron and his son Todd relaxed after dinner.
Can't say my son ever actually relaxed during his first big hike, but I was able to hold him down for a photo.
This hut had bunkhouses separate from the main hut, which were spartan, but new & clean.
Although a mother might worry about her son falling off a cliff or being eaten by bears, the bunks were actually the most dangerous hazard for Chris, who slept in one of the top bunks. During the night he fell the ~6 ft. off the top bunk (he HAD to sleep up there). Luckily, there were no broken bones, and I'm not even sure he woke up completely.
The second day, we took a hike up to the top of Wildcat Mt. in the hopes of the clouds clearing from the peaks and getting some good views. It was a steep climb...these trails were obviously built before the invention of switchbacks.
We were rewarded with some nice views back down into Carter Notch, with the lakes and huts nestled between Carter and Wildcat. You can see where the rocks forming the Ramparts came from on the opposing mountainside.
Although the clouds never cleared from the peak of Mt. Washinton, we did get good views of Pinkham notch (to the left of the enshrouded Mt. Washington), and the surrounding peaks.
We had another nice dinner and breakfast, then hiked out the next morning.