When Richard Hart is working as the cash operations night manager at Smith Union, he keeps his mind on the money. However, his favorite pastime does not cost a penny—he lives for Maine’s wilderness.

The Topsham native and his fiancé, Matt, who works at Thorne Dining Hall, have hiked the entire 100-Mile Wilderness, the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail that is widely considered the wildest portion of the trail.

“The wilderness was brutal, but it was a lot of fun at the same time,” said Hart.

He and his husband-to-be have summited all of the 4,000-foot peaks in Maine and New Hampshire and are starting on the mountains in Vermont.

It is fitting, then, that the couple will be married on Maine’s Tumbledown Mountain this June.

Although a Mainer through and through, Hart spent some time living in Florida and working at Walt Disney World, after graduating from Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.

“I worked at Bongo’s Cuban Café, which is in Downtown Disney and  owned by Gloria Estefan,” said Hart.

Although he enjoyed the experience, Hart found himself back in Maine after 10 years in Florida, working as a bartender at Sea Dog Brewing Company. It was there that he heard about the opening at Bowdoin.

As the cash operations night coordinator, Hart handles the revenue from the three operations in Smith Union—the Café, Jack Magee’s Pub and Grill and the Bowdoin Express—and supervises all the students who work for cash operations in Smith Union during his shift from 4 p.m. to midnight. 

Hart is aided by 12 student managers who help him ensure that cash operations run smoothly throughout the night.

While his job can be hectic, Hart said he enjoys the constant bustle in Smith Union.

“I probably wouldn’t have it any other way working for Bowdoin,” Hart said. 

He also said he enjoys experiencing the many events held in the Pub. Senior Pub Nights and a cappella performances make the top of his list, along with those rare Racer X concerts.

As much entertainment as there is to be had in Smith Union, however, Hart always finds himself back at the trailhead. Having summited Katahdin several times, Hart has experience on all of the trails leading to its peak—even the infamous Knife Edge. Hart said that under normal conditions the Knife Edge is manageable, but that it all depends on the weather. 

This year, after summiting Pamola Peak—the lower of the two Katahdin peaks—and beginning the trek across the Knife Edge to Baxter Peak, Hart  met a frightening sight.

“On the other side, we saw this huge black cloud come rolling in,” Hart said. 

The wind picked up and it began to rain, but Hart couldn’t be deterred.

“I stuck with it and made it through even though I couldn’t see two feet in front of me,” he said.
Poor weather conditions and hikes in Baxter State Park may sound familiar to the ears of Bowdoin students, especially those who went on Orientation trips. He participated in one of the Outing Club’s trips a few years ago, day-hiking to Mount Blue, Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson Mountain.
Hart said the students were glad to have him on their trip because of his expertise in the food business.
“I got pretty creative with the food that we had,” said Hart, who made tuna quesadillas and other inventive dishes to energize the staples of Orientation trips—cheese blocks and pepperoni from a plastic bag. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Hart disdains classic trail fare.

“When you get the top you’re like, ‘Oh god, I can’t wait to have that hunk of cheese and pepperoni,’” Hart said.

After 12 years at Bowdoin, Hart has had time to develop his Dining favorites. He said he is a big fan of the Grill’s salads, pizza and fries. 

Hart said his favorite drink at the Café is “the butternut squash smoothie.” He recommends adding protein powder for those who are stopping by after the gym, or yogurt for anyone looking for some extra flavor.

As if he were not busy enough scaling Maine’s peaks in his off-time from his job at the Union, Hart has recently worked with his fiancé to restore an old home they bought last year.  They have  been doing it all by hand—with a little help from the Internet, of course.

“Thank God for Google and YouTube.  I tell you, without those two, it wouldn’t be pretty,” said Hart.