A New Prespective
2013-12-07 13:50:14.000 – Rebecca Scholand, Weather Observer/Education Specialist
I have returned from vacation and am feeling quite refreshed. Sometimes it helps to get away for a while to appreciate the everyday tasks that we complete here on the summit. I would also be remiss not to mention how awesome it is to be asked, ‘Who do you work for?’, and be able to answer the Mount Washington Observatory. I always find it humbling to see just how many people have heard of the mountain and it’s unmistakable reputation as being ‘Home Of The World’s Worst Weather’.
While I am not privy to how Estate Mount Washington got it’s name, it was of course a place of interest. Standing as one of the best-preserved sugar plantations in the US Virgin Islands, it saw the height of production from 1780 to 1820. Immaculately renovated, the Great House stands at the top of a hill overlooking the western shore of the Island. And although the view might not reach 130 miles as it can on this summit, the fading shades of blue water as it met the horizon spoke volumes to it’s own prominence.
From atop the hills, another great sight could be seen from time to time. As bands of afternoon rain would traverse the Island, the immense rain shafts exiting the clouds seemed to engulf whatever it encountered. Like a wall of water, you could see it before you felt it. I only wish it was that easy on the summit. Even more impressive were the few thunderstorms that would graze the Islands perimeter, offering a spectacular show ending with some of the best rainbows I have ever seen.
Hiking on the Island was also a very different experience as the trails were worn dirt paths weaving along ridge tops and through thick tropical vegetation. Unlike my norm of layering up, the name of the game was as little as possible and breathable. Luckily my lighter weight Eastern Mountain Sports gear was perfect. My favorite of which was my Seek The Peak, Techwick tee and Windblast Lite jacket. The tee kept me cool and the jacket dry from the occasional rain shower. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was the shear volume of water I would consume while hiking. Luckily, due to good habits, I brought more then I thought I would need and it ended up being the right amount.
Transportation on the Island was also interesting. I don’t think there was a single road that wasn’t pothole ridden. The car I had, barely survived most adventures and struggled to compensate gear without looking like a clown car. The few Subarus I saw on the Island, made me envious of their All-Wheel drive, Boxer engines, and ability to swallow gear whole with room to spare. I made it a point to tell friends that with a membership to the Observatory, they could be eligible for discounts with Subaru making their life a tad easier.
While the summit is in the fog sixty percent of the time and only offers spectacular sunsets when Mother Nature seems fit, on the Island, it seemed to be a default setting. The sky would glow with color and reflect accordingly across the expanses of water surrounding us. Silhouetted palm trees added to the awe inspiring view. Living above treeline in the Alpine zone makes you appreciate greenery when it is part of your surroundings.
However, I am happy to be back, at home on the summit with a fresh perspective of the incredible place I live. I look forward to sharing this renewed appreciation of the summit with students in my Distance Learning programs and guests on EduTrips, DayTrips, and Overnight Mountaineering Trips. If the Mount Washington Observatory has a special place in your heart like it does for me, please consider donating to our Year End Fund.
Bring on Winter!
Rebecca Scholand, Weather Observer/Education Specialist