adjusting back to the valley

2008-11-16 13:35:29.000 – Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

The only blue sky we’ve seen all week.

Living on the summit of Mount Washington brings many new perspectives to the rest of one’s life. In many ways, it is like living on another planet, especially in the wintery months. For more than half the year, traveling to and from the summit is a strenuous activity, and it is nearly impossible at times. The climate is starkly different from the area around us, and one must hike at least a mile to see trees, lakes, ponds, or rivers up close. For days on end, we see no evidence that the world exists past the end of the deck, only a gray abyss of fog.

Many amenities of ordinary life are also unavailable here on the summit. We can’t go out to a movie, stop by the store for groceries, or drop by the hardware store for materials. We can’t hang out with friends besides our summit co-inhabitants, or go out to a restaurant (though our home-cooked meals are better anyway). There are no traffic lights, no stop signs, no cars, and much of the time no other people.

While this may seem like a foreign environment to some, I have found that I have more trouble adjusting back to life in the valley than to life up here. For example, at home I regularly get the urge to go outside and check on the weather at quarter to the hour. Every time I see a crow bar, I look around for some ice to hit. I assume that every shadow or dark blur in the corner of my eye is Marty and try not to step on it. I see a temperature of 40 degrees and think ‘warm!’ When I am outside, I automatically look up and code the cloud layers in my head. I dismiss any wind in the valley that doesn’t make standing difficult (which is all of them) as a mere breeze. I have no problem going to bed between 8 and 9 pm. I occasionally put on snow pants when I wake up in the morning.

One thing I don’t mind in the valley is the lack of fog. This shift we have had one fog-free day, and it looks like that’s all we’ll get until Wednesday when we return to the valley. It has not been all boring, however, as we broke the record high yesterday with a temperature of 48 degrees. The previous record was 45 degrees, set in 1993. Today, the unseasonably warm weather has finally drawn to a close with the passage of a cold front, which will bring temperatures into the low single digits tonight with a brisk breeze.


Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

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