An Unlikely Destination

2018-06-24 16:45:38.000 – Ben Seleb, Summit Intern


If you read the most recent blog by observer Ian Bailey, you may have noticed the part where he explained our annual hike-a-thon Seek the Peak, and shamelessly promoted our own team, Team Vergalicious. Just kidding, of course you noticed! 

Don’t worry! This isn’t another shameless plug. 

You may have actually noticed the part where Ian mentioned that my favorite part of working here is the contrast between Observatory and its surrounding environment. I figured the “contrast” I’m talking about here could use some additional clarification, which I will attempt to give in this post.

Mount Washington has been contrasted long before the Observatory was founded, starting when man first entered the dwelling place of the gods. More specifically, even when the mountain was first summited, it was merely to disregard the sanctity of the mountain, which was believed by natives to be inhabited by the gods.

Contrast has become more apparent on the mountain ever since, despite the reverence for its wildness and extreme weather. Buildings were built on its top, and shortly after, the Auto Road and Cog Railway made travel to the summit accessible to anyone who could pay for passage. In spite of it being completely inhospitable due to its remoteness and notorious weather, Mount Washington became one of the nation’s first tourist destinations. The contradiction is almost unfeasible as it is laughable. I’d argue that the Observatory is actually one of the most fitting decorations on the summit, because it wouldn’t be here at all if not for the extreme weather.

We tend to work pretty long hours at the Observatory, and sometimes it can be difficult to take advantage of the amenities that make the Mountain so unique, particularly the natural ones. My internship is now halfway over, and I have become even more motivated to take every opportunity that I can. Whenever I have the free time, and weather permits, I try to get out for a short hike during the day. While I’m normally busy with my own work, I’ll always tag along for a few of the hourly observations each day as well. I get some fresh air, gain some additional weather knowledge (which I can always use), and am able remind myself of the awesome environment that I’m in.


The view shortly after entering treeline on Lion’s Head Trail

One could get used to the scientific equipment, high-speed internet, and bountiful selection of DVD’s available to us at the Observatory. It wouldn’t be long before they began to forget about the natural wonders that exist just outside our front door. That’s why it’s important to remember why we’re really here—in contrast to the Mountain—and why there’s no other workplace quite like it.


Friday’s sunset (the best I’ve ever seen) brought everyone out and onto the observation deck


Ben Seleb, Summit Intern

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