Twenty-four students finish the DOC Fifty
Comparable to past summers, seven out of eight teams successfully completed the trek from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge to Hanover over a section of the Appalachian Trail.
On Friday, Aug. 5, 32 students embarked on the Dartmouth Outing Club Fifty, a hike in which students trek 54 miles and six different peaks along the Appalachian Trail without breaking to sleep. According to Fifty co-director Anna Byrd ’23, 24 students — including finishers from seven out of the eight teams of four — successfully completed the hike..
Fifty co-director Elliot Alberts ’25 said the number of successful hikers was particularly high this term — only 14 out of the 32 hikers completed the Fifty in the fall, which features colder weather.
The route began at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, from where hikers summited South Peak and then continued along the Appalachian Trail on the Glencliff Trailhead. Students then traversed Mt. Mist, Mt. Cube, Mt. Smarts, Holt’s Ledge, Moose Mountain and Velvet Rocks before arriving back at Robinson Hall on campus, Alberts said.
He added that the entire route followed the segment of the Appalachian Trail maintained by the Dartmouth Outing Club.
This term, the participants took approximately 28 to 32 hours to complete the route, according to Byrd. She said the typical duration of the Fifty ranges from around 24 to 32 hours, “depending on the teams that year.”
Byrd added that the route taken this summer was slightly different than in previous terms — whereas hikers typically summit Mount Moosilauke, Byrd said the directors chose to reroute them to South Peak due to concerns about thunderstorms.
“South Peak isn’t exposed at the top like the main peak is, so [it was] a little safer,” Byrd said.
On their hike, the participants passed by five support stations run by students who volunteered to support the Fifty. At each of these stations, there was a station captain, who was responsible for overseeing the station and ensuring that each hiker who passed through was provided with food and medical attention. Each station also had at least one “safety dork,” or an individual with medical certifications. There were 10 to 12 volunteers who were “students from different corners of campus who might have friends hiking and want to support them,” Alberts said. He added that the additional volunteers helped with cooking and cheering for hikers returning to Hanover.
Joe Earles ’24, one of the students who successfully hiked the Fifty, said the support stations were a highlight of his experience.
“You just felt very cared for – very supported and loved – and that was really awesome,” Earles said. “Instead of feeling like a 50-mile hike, it was like, ‘I’ve got nine miles until I get to eat soup, or I’ve got nine miles until someone can look at my feet and fix my blisters.’”
According to Byrd, many more students typically apply to hike the Fifty than can partake in the event — this year, 128 students signed up to hike, and only 32 were chosen. She said students were selected via a lottery system, and those with previous experience supporting the Fifty had increased lottery odds.
Some participants with previous hiking experience said the Fifty presented new challenges. Earles said he had previously hiked similar distances, but this was the first time he completed such a lengthy hike without pausing to sleep. He said his team completed the Fifty in about 30 hours.
“I’ve never missed a night of sleep before,” he said. “I’ve had all-nighters, but then I sleep for hours the next morning.
According to Alberts, many students directing or supporting the Fifty also had to work through the night. He added that the Fifty directors “were up for around 40 hours straight.”
“By the end of it, we were just totally exhausted,” Alberts said. “It was a different sort of exhaustion [from] the hikers, who had the physical exertion for the same amount of time, whereas we had the mental stress of having to be prepared 24/7 for basically two days to respond to anything, anywhere.”
Earles said he appreciated that the Fifty allowed him to challenge himself in a safe environment.
“The way the Fifty is set up, you can get the thrill of pushing yourself while being supported, or being with friends while being cheered on, knowing that you’re in a relatively low-risk environment to do so,” Earles said.