2011-04-29 16:53:20.000 – Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist
A quick changing sunset from yesterday.
As I drove by the White Mountains in California/Nevada during my vacation earlier this month, my mind started to drift eastward towards the “other” White Mountains in New Hampshire/Maine that I have called home for the last five years. As I gazed upon these mighty western mountains, I couldn’t help but think that at one time, their eastern counterparts once looked as rugged as or even more rugged than the western summits currently are. But over the years, wind, rain, snow, plate tectonics, etc. have shaped, shifted, and whittled down the peaks of the eastern White Mountains, changing them and leaving them in the state they are today, a process that continues even to this day. It makes one wonder what this eastern range will look like in a 10, 100, 1000, 1000000, etc years from now. What we see and experience today may not be what is seen in the future as things continually change.
Now while I won’t be around to see these large scale changes, on a localized scale, change is already occurring. Winds nearly continually blast the summits slowly chipping away at the rocks that are strewn about up here. The snow is melting off changing the landscape from winter to summer and all the while whittling down the mountain just a bit more. As the ground becomes saturated, a few land slides are inevitable, quickly altering the landscape around the ranges. And as more and more visitors start coming up for the summer season, they will be doing their part in moving rocks and vegetation, and slowly shaving down the mountain by foot, car or cog.
And while most of us won’t really notice the external landscape of the summits slowly changing this summer, what will be much more noticeable are the changes that will be coming to the internal landscape of personnel at the Observatory. New summit volunteers will be testing out their abilities weekly. Four new interns will be starting their summer stints as the two current winter interns head off into the real world once again. A new museum/gift shop attendant will be greeting guests on our shift. And at least two new observers will be starting their tenure up here as two current observers head off into new adventures in their life.
Now, while I hate experiencing changes in my life, working up here over the years, I have learned it is just part of this way of life. To show you what I mean, in some capacity, I have worked with five museum attendants, twelve observers, 40 interns (not counting the three that became observers), and countless volunteers, in addition to changes in the personnel that have occurred in the valley office as well. And while I may not have gotten to know each and every individual that I worked with as much as I would have liked, especially working nights, each one of them, in some capacity, shaped my life here on the rock pile. So, I guess the lesson I can learn is just as the weather shapes the mountains around me, the personnel that observe that weather will continue to shape my life up here. So I look forward to meeting the next round of individuals that will be working up here and see how they shape my life in the coming year.
Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist