2010-10-31 18:15:59.000 – Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist
Trick or Treat?
At this moment, people are getting dressed up for trick or treating or various parties they have planned. Porch lights are coming on and bowls of candy are being prepared to hand out. And in no time, several ghouls, ghosts, goblins, etc will be roaming the streets. On the summit however, we are celebrating in different ways. We’ll carve up our pumpkins. We’ll leave the porch light on (just in case of a hiker emergency). We’ll prepare a bowl of candy to consume ourselves. And in no time, the summit ghouls, ghosts, etc will be up to their shenanigans like usual.
Am I saying the summit is haunted? Well, that all depends on who you ask working up here. Some of us would flat out answer “no” but for me, I say absolutely. I have heard plenty of stories and seen/experienced enough things to convince me that some sort of paranormal activity occurs from time to time. Now, don’t let your mind drift, I’m not saying that I’m being dragged around by one foot like the characters in the movie “Paranormal Activity” nor am I experiencing anything like in “Ghost Busters”. They’re subtle things that pop up from time to time. And these unusual activities have been noted by enough people that over the years they have earned the nickname of “The Presence” whenever they do occur.
The common one is our elevator up here that operates on its own. We all know that it is probably a short in some wiring somewhere but when you’re up here alone at 1 am and hear the elevator operating, ding, then open to nothing, it’s still creepy. The other common occurrence are the “corner people” (not the kind you’re thinking of). On the far end of our weather room we have a hallway that heads towards the NH State Park rotunda area. From time to time, mostly when working nights alone, I’ll see someone/thing come around the corner, pause then walk back down the hall. I know that it’s probably just an optical illusion but when you see it enough times, you begin to wonder. Other times, I’ll be working alone at night in the weather room and get that feeling like someone is watching me or I’ll hear something subtle from behind me only to turn around to an empty room. From time to time when I am getting the precipitation can, a figure squatting by the Tuckerman Ravine Trail sign/bridge will stand up watch me then squat back down as I walk away. Occasionally there are the sounds of footsteps in the snow or in the rotunda behind me only to turn around to darkness. And so on and so forth.
Now, my “experiences” pale to some of the stories I have heard from former observers, volunteers and the hut croos but they’re still something. But, even though “The Presence” plays around from time to time, it’s just a quick scare and I can usually just pass it off as sugar/coffee enhanced paranoia and go on with my life. In fact, working nights up here, it’s not ghosts, demons or aliens that I’m fearful of. What I’m more fearful of are people. On nice, calm nights, we get the occasional night hiker traversing the peaks or coming up for sunrise. As long as they don’t pop out suddenly, I see these people coming and will talk to them when they arrive or avoid them depending on their behavior. These usually aren’t the people that scare me. The people that scare me are the ones we leave the porch light on for; the people seeking help at 1 am. When getting the precipitation can, you never expect to run into someone but running into a hypothermic victim is always a possibility. My “ghosts” are predictable but since hypothermia can affect a person’s mental behavior, I never know what to expect when I open the door and possibly run into someone.
Thankfully these hypothermic cases are far and few between. And now that October is finishing up, the chances lower with each passing day. The deeper we get into winter, the better prepared hikers usually become. In fall, people start off in mild or warm weather and hit the summit where it is below freezing with even lower wind chills. And instead of turning around to the milder weather, they continue up, losing body heat all the while because they have to make it to the summit. But fall also marks when the summit facilities close up so we get hikers that show up late and expect a ride down or a hot cup of coffee only to find out that neither are available. But usually by November, the base of the summit becomes cold enough that people usually start packing properly and are aware that they are on their own when coming up. So, with any luck, tonight my fear should only come from sugar/caffeine induced spirits and not from any unprepared individuals trying to become one.
Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist