A Volunteer’s Comments

2011-12-19 21:12:40.000 – Brad Bradstreet,  Summit Volunteer

Stage Office at Night

Monday is normally the beginning of my week. But, as a volunteer for the Observatory, the week started on Wednesday morning heading to the summit with this week’s crew. The ride up was surprisingly uneventful for a December trip. Over the past four days we have experienced a wind chill of -31 F; winds peaking at 116 MPH; no visibility; 130 mile visibility; a bit of rain; light snow; and lots of rime ice.

Charlie Hawkins and I volunteered last year in September and enjoyed our week. So, we put in for a winter week. We knew it would be different. But, it is quieter (members are not stopping in to say hi). The days are shorter. The opportunity to roam off the summit is extremely limited due to the weather. Things don’t get as dirty because all that is tracked inside is clean snow. But, when we had a night of 130 mile visibility, it is hard to describe the sight. To the north were the lights of Gorham, NH. Beyond them was the glow of Montreal, Canada. To the east you could see the lights of Portland, Maine and other towns along the coast. Further south was a large glow generated by Boston. Filling in across the landscape were towns, lighted ski slopes, blinking lights on wind turbines, airport flashing lights. For once you could really see where things were with the crisp, clear air. Yes, it was -27F wind chill. But, taking pictures in such conditions was a fantastic opportunity we could not let pass by.

Today we had fun hosting a DayTrip. The normal volunteer duties include providing dinner for the crew and making sure there are left-overs for lunch the next day (and cleaning). With a DayTrip you need to have snacks and hot drinks for when they arrive–and also a nice lunch. Lots of extra people, good questions, and they seemed to have had a good day. As they headed back down the road visibility was down to just a few feet. So, they timed things well. Some times in the winter there are overnight groups to add to the already tight quarters. But, everyone is friendly and understanding that this is a tough place to live and work.

As a non-profit organization the Observatory needs volunteers to help get things done. But, even more important, it needs membership income and donations. Think about giving an Observatory membership this holiday season. Become a member and know you are providing valuable support to help keep things running. Then come up next summer and ask for a members’ tour.

A photo journal of our week on Mt Washington can be seen at www.fotki.com/bradbradstreet/travels/2011/2011-12-14-mwo.


Brad Bradstreet,  Summit Volunteer

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