2012-09-30 22:03:47.000 – Brian Clark, Weather Observer/Education Specialist
Me in the East Snowfields, March 7, 2006
In case you’re just tuning in, after nearly five and a half years (plus an internship) this shift is my last working for the Observatory. So, I have been taking the opportunity to look back on my time with the organization, and so far I have been talking particularly about how I ended up working for the Observatory in the first place. I really hope that my posts have been half as interesting to you as they have been therapeutic for me; it’s been a good chance for me to reflect on the path the led me here.
Anyway, in my comment on Friday, I talked about my internship interview in November of 2005. As I mentioned in that comment, I was offered the internship the day of my interview, and accepted. I began my internship on Wednesday January 4, 2006. I knew that I was in for an interesting experience in the months that would follow, but in the end, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Summarizing those 4+ months that I was an intern in one Observer Comment is nothing short of a daunting task. I learned so much about operational meteorology, more than I ever expected that I could or would. I had the privilege of working with some great observers that taught me a lot, and have remained good friends to this day. So in the end, I guess all I can do in this comment is pick out a few things about those months that stand out in my mind.
Through the course of that winter, I met a lot of great people, especially through the volunteer program. Two of the most memorable volunteers, and two of my all-time favorites, I happened to meet on my very first week: Al and Marion Lake. At that point, they had already put it in at least 10 years of volunteering on the summit, so they knew way more than me about summit operations. They were extremely welcoming and helped me greatly in adjusting to life on the mountain during that first week. Al also made me a lunch that I will never forget: the Grilled Elvis. It’s a sandwich, of sorts. To make one, you take two pieces of buttered bread, fill them with peanut butter, banana, bacon, and honey, and then grill it all. I distinctly remember working away at the video system computer one day, and then all of a sudden Al appeared and presented me with this monstrosity of a sandwich. I was very skeptical at first, but definitely became a believer after my first bite. I had the privilege of having Al and Marion on my shift several more times before they ‘retired’ from the summit volunteer program last year. Just in case I never actually said it, Al and Marion (since I know you’re reading this), thank you very much for that first week. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Although there was always lots of work to do as an intern – and trust me, lots of work was done – I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I had to get outside, take a break from work, and take advantage of the incredible ‘back yard’ I had outside our doors. Up until I was an intern, I had only been backcountry skiing once, which I talked about in my Observer Comment on Thursday. I was lucky to have former observer Neil Lareau on my shift for a good chunk of my internship, and he was single handedly responsible for introducing me to the incredible world of backcountry skiing above treeline on Mount Washington. We would often head off to the East Snowfields for a couple runs when weather allowed, and I had some very memorable days there that winter. In fact, I would go far as to saying that I had some of my very best backcountry ski experiences when I was an intern. On the days that weren’t so nice weather-wise, we would head out for half an hour or so and take some laps right on the summit, on a slope between the Stage Office and the upper parking lot that was dubbed ‘Parking Lot Gully’. It’s only 5 or 6 turns long, but it was a good way to get outside for some fresh air.
This comment is already getting rather long, so at the risk of turning it into a novel, I will wrap things up by sharing a few other memories through pictures that I uncovered over the last few months:
– Even after all these years, some of my favorite scenic Mount Washington photos were taken during my internship. Like this one, this one, and this one.
– How could I not share this photo of myself with my friend and former observer Jim Salge, wearing some very stylish jackets that he found at a thrift store?
– I attempted, and succeeded at entering the Century Club on February 17, 2006. Average wind speed, at the top of the tower, during the attempt was 105.4 mph, with a peak gust of 117.0 mph. The temperature was about 5 degrees. Yes, (I’m talking to you Jeff DeRosa) the wind was coming from the west which made it a lot easier than some other wind directions, but it still wasn’t exactly easy!
– I was lucky enough to be able to have my father, a fellow meteorologist, visit me on the summit during my internship. He came all the way from southern California and ended up getting a perfect mix of weather during his stay.
– Shoveling was a lot more difficult when I was an intern.
– Nin was an awesome cat, and a great work companion.
Just like with my internship interview, if I had left my Observatory internship and never got to come back, I would have left with an experience that would stick with me for the rest of my life. Luckily, yet again, my time on Mount Washington was not over.
P.S. Be sure to keep an eye on my Mount Washington Blog on AccuWeather.com over the next several days. I’ve decided that I will post a series of entries that will highlight my favorite photos, of several different categories, that I have taken in my time on the mountain.
Brian Clark, Weather Observer/Education Specialist