A STP story

2008-08-03 06:32:51.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Seek the Peakers at dinner

In college, I had a class that had us constantly doing an exercise called a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (or a fiver) paper. It was a quick exercise that was used to express ourselves, get us thinking creatively and take observation at the wider world around us. So why is it called a fiver paper? Well, it was a paper that required five steps to complete. The steps were to choose one (1) subject to write about, usually ourselves. The subject should, at the most, be able to fill two (2) pages worth of information. Three (3) words should be chosen then incorporated into paragraphs summarizing the event our subject was doing. Our events should be broken up into four (4) hour blocks that span at least 24 hours. Lastly, each paragraph incorporates the three words in five (5) sentences.

We usually had to create a brief outline before writing so we didn’t hit a block half way through our papers and waste time deciding what to do next. So to outline, I will be the subject writing about my Seek the Peak 2008 observations which actually spans 32 hours. My three words will be “excite,” “thankful,” and “exhaust.” So here is my paper:

“STP ‘08 a 48 Hour Perspective”

It is 1300 EDT on Friday, July 25th, 2008 and I head down to our offices above the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway to help prepare for the impending check-in hours away. I find Karen and MaryAnn busy at work with last minute preparations and they are thankful that I and other volunteers could come in to help stuff some last minute items into our hiker gift bags. I meet up with Ed and we are excited to be helping out even though it is a whirlwind of preparation around us. We move boxes up, down, left, right, back and forth as we sort through all 250 goodie bags. It was exhausting work but if our work made check-in seem that much more seamless, it would all be worth it.

We walked everything across the street to Flatbread Pizza for check-in that kicked off at 1700 EDT. I handed out bags, chocolates, shirts, and drinks to some of the most excited groups of people I have ever met. Since they were lucky enough to be receiving a goodie bag worth over 100 hundred dollars, their was an air of thankfulness floating about the room. After three hours of check-in followed by clean up, Ed and I decided that hiking up tonight would be a better idea than waiting until Saturday. Although we were exhausted from working the entire afternoon, hiking at night would be cooler, less crowded and allow us to photograph more hikers early the next morning.

We start off at around 2100 EDT and I am beyond excited as this would be the first time I have hiked the summit fully at night. I can feel a bit of exhaustion setting in since I had already been working for half of the day but fatigue could wait, I had a peak to seek. I was thankful to be able to share this hike with Ed as we trudged up the mountain. The night was spectacular and we hiked most of the way under the partial moon and star lit sky only using headlamps below tree line. The temperatures and winds could not have been nicer.

New sights and perspectives of the mountain were taken in as we edged closer to the summit around 0100 EDT. But exhaustion was setting in as I was becoming easily excited by every little flicker of light and noise around me. As summit lights came into focus under a light veil of fog, I was thankful that soon I would be crawling into bed as an off duty observer. Alpenglow was hinting the sky in soft hues and other headlamps could be seen making their way to the same peak I was heading towards. After talking to the on-duty observer Mike, I crawled into bed.

I didn’t get much sleep as I awoke two hours after falling asleep shortly after 0500 EDT. It wasn’t because I was too excited to sleep it was the fact that my body was not used to sleeping during the night when I am usually awake taking observations on the summit. So I forced myself out of bed despite still feeling exhausted from my hike just hours ago. The observers on duty were thankful for the company. While Ed slept, I weighed my options and where I would be the most use for that day.

By the time Ed awoke around 0800 EDT, it was decided that we would be most useful on the summit with me providing rides and an extra hand while Ed photographed hikers. Even this early in the day, we were meeting exhausted hikers that were thankful that we were providing them with tours and cookies. As I walked around outside, I witnessed flocks of excited hikers make their ways to the peak from all directions like ants on a hill. The observatory was packed with hikers taking in the sites and instrumentation that help us do our jobs up here. Some were here for the first time while others walked about like this was second nature.

I started driving people down by 1300 EDT so our staff and volunteers could start setting up for the thank you dinner under our massive circus-looking tent at the base of the autoroad. The autoroad was crowded and I was thankful every time I passed a car without losing a mirror. The seats around me were filled with exhausted patrons thankful for a ride down. Although we were worn down, we were still excited about the dinner about to occur. By the time the summit crew started down for dinner around 1500 EDT, the constant stream of hikers had slowed to a trickle and the summit and weather room returned to its usual calm.

Dinner was already in full swing when we arrived at 1700 EDT but luckily, this year had no lines so we just breezed right up and got our turkey dinner. After a bit of conversing and getting to know some new and old faces, the excitement for the night came to a point as the prizes were being handed out. After the last prize was handed out, excitement changed over to exhaustion as the worn bodies caught up with the hikers of the day. A swift cleanup by the crew drew a busy day to a close. But despite how busy we were, we were continuously thankful for everyone that participated this year and are looking forward to what next year brings.

On a side note, I and the entire staff would like to thank everyone that participated this year. You all made this year the biggest and best event we have ever had. It was great to see so many enthusiastic people coming together for a great cause. I would also like to thank everyone that helped sponsor a hiker that was involved. Personally, I would like to thank the following people for sponsoring me: Courtney Knapp, John and Nelly Henderson, The Pace family, The Perez family, Mike and Sal Knapp, Patty Percy, Karen Kiokemeister, Susan Beane, Kristy Lynn Medeiros, and Ken Stockwell.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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