Sally Harris Wilbur, 85, died at Legacy Hospital, Gresham, Oregon on December 25, 2022. A native of Massachusetts, she was born in Winchester in 1937 and lived there until 1952, when the family moved to Boxford. Sally’s parents, Stuart K. “Slim” Harris, and Calista (Crane) Harris, were both Old Hutmen, and well-known in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as early as the 1920s.
Sally made her first visit to a hut in the summer of 1939, when her father carried her into Zealand in a papoose basket. Her uncle, Clarence “Tige” Crane, was a Zealand Hutman that summer. In 1940, she made her first visit to Lakes, going to the summit with her father on the Cog, then walking down to the hut, where her mother met them after hiking up the Jewel Trail. Paul “Uncas” Gerhard said he would stand on his head for her if she walked down to Lakes. She did, and he did.
In 1942 Slim, Cal and Sally took the train from Boston to Crawford’s, and hiked the Crawford Path to Lakes. Sally climbed to the top of Mt. Clinton on her own, then on a moonlit night, rode on her father’s shoulders the rest of the way. The Hut crew were gathered on top of Mt. Monroe, and cheered them as they came up the trail. Afterward, at the hut, Sally remembers them rubbing her feet to get them warm. The following year, when she was five, she made her first unassisted climb of Mt. Washington, via Lion’s Head.
In 1945, at the age of seven, Sally became perhaps the youngest “Hut Girl” on record. With young men to staff the huts
scarce during World War II, Joe Dodge reached out to Slim and Cal Harris to see if they would be willing to be the hut crew at Zealand. They were willing, and with Sally and her younger brother, the family spent all summer in residence at the hut. The rest of the Western Division huts were closed that year, but Dick Maxwell, their co-Hutman, made regular visits to them to check on their condition.
During her youth, Sally visited the White Mountains and the AMC huts regularly with her parents, operating from their “base camp,” a rustic cabin in the hills north of Berlin, New Hampshire. She took a more normal route to being a Hutman by working at Pinkham Notch during the winter and spring of 1956-1957. She returned for the 1957-1958 winter season.
Following her marriage in August 1961 to Sanford “Sandy” Wilbur, much of her life was spent in the West, living on national wildlife refuges in California and Idaho, and supporting Sandy’s work with endangered birds. Nevertheless, she was able to make regular trips to New Hampshire to stay with her mother at their cabin, and to make trips to the huts. When Sandy retired in 1994, they began 15 years of living at their New Hampshire “camp” from May to October, returning to Gresham, Oregon, for the winter.
She made her last visit to a hut in 2001 when, following recovery from cancer, she and Sandy took the Cog to the summit, and walked down to Lakes. A stroke in 2008 ended their summers in New Hampshire, and they retired full-time to Oregon, where they had lived since 1981.