Notch Hostel owner Serena Ryan co-founded the hostel in 2015 with Justin Walsh and is now the sole owner. She loves hiking, cooking, and working in the Notch’s prolific vegetable and flower gardens. Serena’s inspiration to start the hostel came to her while on a trip to Washington State, where she climbed Mount Rainier. She was reading the book “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” while on the trip, and learned about the hostels “AWOL” stayed in along his thru-hike. She and Justin realized that the Lincoln/North Woodstock area, which mostly catered to skiers and resort-goers, could use an affordable lodging option for hikers and other travelers looking for memorable experiences on a budget. 324 Lost River Road was the first and only property Justin and Serena viewed; the minute they pulled into the driveway for the home inspection, they knew they had found the perfect location for the Notch Hostel.
Serena is also the founder of Summits in Solidarity—a hiking initiative for racial justice—as well as an active member of the New Hampshire Hostel Network.
Notch Hostel employee Philip Carcia, also known as Finding Philip, has worked here since 2018 in a variety of roles, from media creation and marketing to guest services and hostel management. Phil is a Worcester, MA native and is the current record holder for the Single Year Grid and the White Mountains Trace, two of the most iconic hiking challenges in our region.
Tricia Case is a long-distance hiker and a teacher who likes painting and making comics. Tricia hiked the Long Trail in Vermont in 2018 and thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2020 (trail name “Pearl”). After her thru-hike she took up an office job in Tennessee, but missed the mountains and hiking community. She knew the Notch was the perfect place to land.
Sarah Yawata was born and raised in Hawaii, which started her love for all things outdoors. This passion grew when she moved to the mainland in 2010 for work and educational opportunities. When Sarah got her first dog, Rogue, she started hiking with him and the rest is history! She now hikes, camps, and backpacks with big outdoor goals in mind for the future. Sarah is proud to be representing other queer women of color out on the trails.
Jessica Lang Wright has always loved the outdoors. In previous careers, Jessica has been a professional classical musician, a music cataloger at a large public library, a yoga teacher and yoga studio owner. After moving to NH in 2011 she became obsessed with hiking, which eventually led to her successful Appalachian Trail thru hike in 2023 (trail name “Bluebird”). It was during that hike that she decided becoming a manager at The Notch Hostel would be the perfect next adventure.
Justin Walsh, Notch Hostel co-founder, is a climber, mountaineer and entrepreneur who has extensive ties to the White Mountains community and who has successfully summited some of the world’s most iconic peaks, including Mt. Rainier, Matterhorn in Switzerland (14,692 feet), Pico de Orizaba in Mexico (18,491 feet), Chimborazo (20,549 feet) and Cotopaxi (19,347 feet) in Ecuador, and Denali in Alaska (20,310 feet). Originally from the small central Massachusetts town of Harvard, Walsh caught the outdoor bug in his early 20s. As his passion for the outdoors developed, Walsh decided to move from the city to the White Mountains, settling down in North Woodstock in 2015. Since then he has become thoroughly engaged in the community, helping found local businesses including The Notch Hostel and Notch Properties, where he invests in residential and commercial real estate. Walsh began working as Rudy Glocker’s real estate agent to help find Burgeon Outdoor a home in Lincoln. He now co-owns and operates a custom stonework company in Plymouth, NH, called Friction & Gravity.
Delilah Jones is a Swiss Mountain Dog from Vermont who joined the Notch Hostel as our mascot in 2016. She enjoys hiking, eating treats, and prowling around the backyard rooting up buried tennis balls. She also serves as one of our NotchWear models and sports a different Notch bandana every day of the week.