On this day in 2020, I had just made the heart-wrenching decision to close the hostel early, cancelling dozens of reservations and a long-anticipated Fireside Chat. I shut the heat off, fired up the wood stove in Crawford Room, and met with my staff to research health protocols and unemployment options.
I never imagined what was to come. Two years of pandemic-related struggle, illness, and death around the world, economic devastation, and increased alcoholism and depression. Two hostels in the White Mountains closed their doors permanently. This January, the father of Notch Hostel co-founder Justin Walsh quietly passed away from Covid, having hiked a NH mountain just a few weeks before the disease rendered him unable to climb a single flight of stairs.
Through it all, Notch guests and friends stayed connected. You sent donations, purchased gift certificates and NotchWear, followed masking and vaccination protocols, and booked private rooms and tent sites when shared rooms were not an option. You helped us stay motivated to continue pivoting our business model, even when running a business based on shared overnight accommodations felt impossible.
The lighter workload at the hostel allowed us to spend more time giving back. We founded Summits in Solidarity, a hiking initiative for racial justice, and raised over $47,000 for BIPOC-led justice work. After a 1.5 year hiatus, we resurrected the Fireside Chat series with eye-opening presentations by two transgender hikers and a Black activist and outdoorswoman.
This new video embodies who we are and what we stand for. If you are looking for a way to explain to your friends and family why the Notch is your second home, look no further. This video by our friend Philip “Finding Philip” Carcia, narrated by guest Lyla “Sugar” Harrod, says it all.