living on the summit

2008-06-16 10:20:42.000 – Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

Sunrise Thursday

One of my favorite aspects of working on the summit of Mount Washington is the opportunity to be here at all times of the day. The auto road and cog railway are generally only open during the bright daylight hours, and hiking on the summits at night requires great caution and preparation, as shown by Mike’s comment yesterday. Thus the opportunity to see sunrise and sunset is mostly limited to the few of us who are lucky enough to stay on the summit at night.

Last Thursday was one of those days where I fully appreciated how lucky I am to be up here 24 hours a day. I was roused at 3:45 AM for a beautiful sunrise, which I groggily attempted to photograph. In the afternoon, I went for a hike and found some lovely alpine flowers, and in the evening we were treated to a beautiful sunset. Usually it is difficult to take late evening photographs due to the lack of light, but the wind was so calm that I could use a tripod and long exposure to capture the sparkle of surrounding towns and cities. Standing on the deck on a clear night is an experience to behold.

Living up here for a week at a time, we also get to see all the different kinds of weather that grace the summit. Since we are in the fog about 60% of the time, a visitor has only moderate chances of seeing more than 100 feet on any given day. In a whole week, however, one can count on seeing a variety of weather, and at least hope for a few clear days. Already I have seen spectacular sunrises and sunsets, 120 mile views, dense fog, rain, broken undercast, and winds in the 70s. I am still waiting to see a full undercast, rime ice, snow, and winds near 100, but undoubtedly I won’t have to wait long.

I would encourage anyone and everyone to find a way to spend a night or a week on the summit, whether through the Observatory’s internship program, by volunteering, or by taking an EduTrip. You never know what kind of weather you’ll get up here, but you can be certain it won’t be ordinary.


Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

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