2006-05-31 09:08:17.000 – Jack Lareau,  Summit Volunteer

A break in the clouds

Our week on the summit has come to an all too quick ending and we must leave the life in the clouds for the terra firma below. This has been a week of remarkable extremes for the uninitiated, but, I suppose somewhat mundane for the summit veterans-Nin certainly took everything in stride. Our motorized ascent was through fog and drizzle until chains were needed on all four drive wheels to negotiate the late snow and ice on the road and access paths to the Sherman Adams Building. Our week straddled the traditional start of the summit tourist season with daily visitations swing from a few dozen to about a thousand on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Over the years we have often joked about “sucker holes” holding out the false promise of clearing skies. This was the first time we were in a sucker hole with crystal clear blue skies above and 100′ visibility in all directions. For the first few days, the snow fields were ideal for Nordic skiing and snow boarding. Later in the week the grounds opened to reveal the lichen covered boulder pile. The resident summit fox provided entertainment by trying to sneak up on a Bicknell thrush-the object of quest for several disappointed bird watchers earlier in the day.

No summit journey would be complete without the onslaught of clouds cascading over the numerous peaks like a rushing river with turbulent rapids dropping over falls and creating fantastic eddies and standing waves. I dreamed of a mythical type of canoe that could ride these oversized rapids.

Nature’s statement of scale was overpowering with peaks and clouds palpably close only to realize that these were several miles distant. It was entirely appropriate that when we turned to indoor evening recreation the most popular pastime was playing ping pong on a Lilliputian 4′ table.

And of course, this visit also afforded us a great opportunity to spend time with our son, Neil, the day shift observer. It is always a rewarding feeling to go through the transition of mentor to student with a son so knowledgeable of the nature of the mountains.

And, good luck to Rick Giard who completes his internship tenure today to seek fame and fortune elsewhere.


Jack Lareau,  Summit Volunteer

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