2009-04-06 08:21:38.000 – Kathy Bennet, Marketing Director, Cranmore Mountain
Cranmore Summits Mount Washington
The Cranmore Crew took over the Mount Washington Observatory living quarters for the last two days. 7 of us met at the base of the Auto Road yesterday, greeted by the Obs’ Cara Rudio who escorted us up the mountain in a specially-outfitted Bombardier snowcat groomer, thanks to Gus.
Those of you who have enjoyed the Auto Road in summer cannot properly appreciate the excitement that a winter drive affords. For one thing, you don’t have your hands glued to your car’s steering wheel, so you can actually look around and take in the views. We stopped at 4,000 and 5,000 feet and were able to hop out and drink in the scenery and get a coming attraction of the winds to come. We cheered when we located Cranmore’s still snowy slopes along with those of Attitash, Black and Wildcat.
Once at the summit, we entered the now shuttered Mount Washington State Park building. Those of you who have come here in summer know it as the place where you can find the Obs Museum, Gift Shop and Cafeteria. In winter, it is just an entry to the leased space of the Mount Washington Observatory, plus a skeleton crew of the State Park.
We got an insider tour of the facilities both inside and out. After suiting up for the weather (air temps in the 20s but with winds of 45-50mph, a wind chill of -5), we went outside and experienced winter at the summit of the northeast’s tallest peak. An exterior tour of the summit’s buildings included the Tip Top House, a stone structure that once served as a hotel in the 19th century. The Yankee Building (where is the Red Sox building, GM Ben Wilcox joked) is home to a variety of wiring and other exciting items but our tour guide implied that the building is haunted. She dismissed the claim but creative minds can imagine the hundreds of those who have perished at this summit hang out at this gray shingled buildling with a 25 foot snow drift at its front.
The 7 of us clamored to the tippity-top of the rock pile with the sign indicating the summit elevation. We took pictures but the wind, rime ice and cold took its toll on our electronics. We’re going back out again this morning to see if we can get a better shot!
Back inside we got a tour up and down the various ladders and metal spiral staircases that take people up and down the various levels of the Obs. The highlight of the outside tour was climbing the ladders to the Parapet. Rime ice covered every object.
Back downstairs, we went outside again to the Observation Deck which impossibly seemed windier than the Parapet above. We also got a weather primer by staff meterologists who explained the unique weather here at the summit, as well as an explanation of the work they do and the equipment they use.
But possibly the best part of the entire trip was the cozy home quarters where we napped, ate and shared good company with each other and the Obs staff. It felt like a combination of a camping trip and a cruise ship – isolated yet homey. Who would think that there was a wide screen LCD TV, a Rock Band video game and a selection of DVDs to rival Blockbuster. Not that we spent much time watching TV.
After a restful sleep in a cozy bunkroom, we woke up to a fresh pot of coffee and a full breakfast. Special shout out to the volunteers who cooked each of our meals Nicole and Lisa) – it will be hard to go home and cook for ourselves after the tasty home made meals we enjoyed.
That coupled with watching the sunrise, with a slight undercast with the peaks of the Presidentials peaking up in the increasing sunlight, made for a special morning indeed. The snowcat ride back down is in a few hours. We are now suiting up to go outside for another hike around the summit.
While what we took in was not a typical EduTrip, for those of you considering one, do it. It is a trip of a lifetime. Thanks so much to the awesome Obs staff – Stacey, Mike, Steve, Jordan and Cara!
Kathy Bennet, Marketing Director, Cranmore Mountain