2010-05-19 16:01:54.000 – Joe Kayan, Summit Volunteer
Regrettably, this is the last day of my volunteer week at the top of Mt.Washington. Another marvelously unique experience it has been. I arrived a week ago to a spectacularly ice encrusted world. Snow still covered much of the summit cone. The cairns that mark all the glorious hiking trails crisscrossing this treeless terrain were proudly flying streamers of rime ice on their windward sides.
Now, just seven days later, the ice is gone. The snow also is mostly gone. Being an avid hiker, I was not sad to experience its rapid disappearance during my stay. Leaving the summit for my daily walks a week ago I was able to do a little boot skiing and occasionally a sort of luge run on my plastic bag sled – simultaneously exhilerating and a little scary. The negative payback came on my return trip up the hill, as I had to kick step into the snow for long stretches, backsliding every second or third step. I found this exhausting and on more than one occasion with my heart audibly pounding, the vision of Red Foxx, as Fred Sanford, clutching his chest and loudly proclaiming ‘Oh no!!-‘it’s the BIG ONE’ would creep into my oxygen starved brain.
A day or two of temperatures in the lower forties with a stiff breeze from the NW made short work of all of the rime ice and much of the snow. Yesterday afternoon, on my last uphill climb to my temporary home in the clouds, the familiar well worn rocks of the Crawford Path were beneath my feet. Hallelua!! On my frequent brief rest stops I could hear the melt water gurgling through the rocks on its way down into the Ammonoosuc ravine and the river below.
Pondering the course of this water, I realized that the Ammonoosuc River empties into the Connecticut River somewhere in northern New Hampshire. It then flows south, eventually past my home in Northfield MA. I live just a couple of miles from this river and cross it several times each day in the course of my valley life. I canoe in it regularly. The thought that some of this river water has made the journey from here, the highest spot in New England – a place that I consider my grandest personal cathedral – will only strengthen my sense of connection to Mount Washington.
Thank you all who made this a special week here. Thanks, especially to one of my favorite hiking companions, my son Jesse, who joined me for 2 awesome days last week.
Peace to all who come here and to all who love this place.
Joe Kayan, Summit Volunteer