Cliche rantings of a summit winter

2010-02-06 07:44:10.000 – Drew Hill,  Summit Intern

Closed for the season.

My first summer on Mt. Washington was, for want of a more poetical vocabulary, illuminating. Throngs of hikers filtered through the hut I worked in. They were happy, tired, talking, laughing, crying, winded, cold, overheated, bonding, meditating, Canadian. No matter the temperament, passers-through always made for good conversation– interesting conversation, anyways. Summer was fun.

Well, it’s a funny thing, being up here in the winter. It’s so quiet up here. When I look out the weather-room windows, I see an empty world. It seems to sleep, blanketed in a cold, expansive ether. The surrounding ridges, painted over with a monochromatic pallet, seem to say ”closed for the season, see you in the spring.” Hurricane-force winds blow snow high into the air, and temperatures turn boiling water instantly to snow. I guess it’s for good reason that visitors are scarce.

But I’m learning that ”quiet” is not the same as ”dull.”

It’s typical in the summer months to see hundreds of visitors on the summit in a single day. And I’ve rarely hiked the Crawford Path without running into at least a score of hikers. A winter day up here, however, is lonesome; a jaunt above treeline is like traveling through the middle of nowhere. More than lonesome, though, the winter alpine zone is serene. Halcyon. It’s a good place to think– to think about the future, the past, the present. Especially the present. In fact, this barren tundra lends itself well to make-believe. I often find myself fording the frozen seas of the arctic, or taking one giant step for mankind. I’m juvenile, sure. But don’t knock it until you try it: it’s a pretty good time.

So, visitors are few and far between. But illumination doesn’t have to come from others. And winter is fun, too.


Drew Hill,  Summit Intern

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