To our Maine Huts & Trails Community & Family,
In the face of the accelerating Coronavirus pandemic, Maine Huts & Trails made the difficult decision on March 15th to immediately bring our winter self-service lodging operations to a close to protect the well-being of our guests. volunteers, staff, and greater community. We announced that the huts would remain closed until further notice.
As a financially fragile non-profit that operates in the conservation, outdoor recreation and hospitality spaces, our board is, by necessity, adopting a very cautious and conservative approach to the months ahead. Our goal is to serve the High Peaks region and its outdoor oriented visitors through future decades and generations, and our decisions are for the long-term.
- Our huts will not be open during our typical spring self-service season from April through June. These are always our slowest months of the year in terms of guest visits and associated revenues.
- Sadly, we are not anticipating being open for our usual full-service summer and fall seasons either. While we hope otherwise, we suspect that economic conditions will be slow to rebound, and that consumers’ anxieties with regard to social gathering may take some time to subside.
- MH&T has always been reliant on fund-raising and philanthropy to fully off-set the costs of our summer and fall operations, and we anticipate that people’s charitable giving to conservation and outdoor recreation will be challenged by lost income and wealth due to the Coronavirus as well as a natural and appropriate shift in giving toward health and human services in this difficult time.
- In light of events we, like many others, have cut our costs to the bare minimum and, regrettably, impacts include reducing our staff capacity, too. We have been blessed with remarkable colleagues who deeply believe in our mission and who demonstrated their commitment day in and day out over recent months and years.
Trails as an Antidote for Covid-19 Cabin Fever
We’ve long championed physical, emotional and spiritual health benefits of active time spent in the outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine help to boost one’s immune system. It is critical we follow the guidelines for social distancing, and in that context, experts suggest trail exercise, while following the six-foot rule, is an acceptable outdoor activity. For maximum safety wide trails free of significant hazards (like the Maine Hut Trail) help to maximize separation and to minimize risks of accidents that might add strain to the medical system.
“Trails” is, after all, in our name, and while the huts are closed, your membership and support will be in visible in those trails. We are going to be coordinating and working with our partners attending to them as a resource to the public for miles of healthy social distancing.
From Present to Future
Last fall we set our sights on being open for the winter and forging our way forward by building on partnerships and making strategic changes to the organization that collectively would mount to a sustainable future. Nearly 1,100 contributions totaling over $500,000 (as well as generous in-kind support from local businesses) enabled us to be open.
Winter 2019-20 was immensely gratifying and heart-warming for the love shown by our communities – those in Franklin and Somerset Counties, as well as the broad community of members and friends of Maine Huts & Trails.
- Amazingly the huts were staffed all winter long by many dozen dedicated and hard-working volunteer caretakers who looked after our huts as warm and welcoming gathering places.
- More than 2500 guests shared time, recipes and ingredients around the kitchen, and stories by the wood stove.
- Guest reviews remained extremely positive, heartfelt and appreciative.
We are evermore grateful to our broad community, to the winter’s staff, and to incredible volunteers in the huts and on the trails for your support and efforts.
We have been careful spenders of your generous contributions, and are working on a plan with the ambition of being open next winter. Until that time, please be well, and take care of yourselves and your families by heeding social distancing guidelines, and we look forward to a healthy future together.