Observing the World With My Ears

2015-05-09 18:04:20.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist


Friday, everyone at the Observatory took turns to go out for a hike. While Kaitlyn went to Mt. Clay (see yesterday’s comment), I chose to go east into the Alpine Garden, out to Lion Head, and back up the summit cone. The surrounding mountains and distant vistas were a sight to behold. The earthy smell of the melt water rushing all over the mountain was a hearty scent to take in. The sun shining overhead felt warm on the skin and couldn’t help but make one happy and wanting to be out. And while I enjoyed seeing, smelling, and feeling yesterday’s weather, I also paused and took in the sounds of the afternoon too.

When I got to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail and Lion Head Trail, I paused and really listened to all that was going on around me. At first, all that could be heard was the beat of my heart and the equally rhythmic sound of my lungs. However, after these dampened and slowed to a more normal “background” pace, other noises came into focus. As snow melted the sounds of water varied from slight drips, to gentle babbling brooks over and under surrounding terrain, eventually giving way to the thundering sound of the waterfall in Tuckerman Ravine. As trees warmed, snow that was once clinging to them gave up their grasp and could be heard falling off making splat noises that come from slushy and corned spring snow. Various birds could be heard fluttering by and occasionally pausing to call out to their potential mates. Bugs could be heard buzzing and whirling about and they set forth to make the most of their short lives on the summit. Occasionally a light breeze would rustle the branches of a tree, the sedge, and up and around various boulders. Hiker, skier, and snowboarder conversations could faintly be overheard and occasionally the call of whoops, hollers and cheers could be heard exuberantly coming from Tuckerman momentarily dominating the soundscape. Footsteps in the snow from distant hikers along with the swooshing noises from the turns of skiers/boarders on neighboring snowfields sliced through the air.

However, as I focused more and more on what I could hear, a faint rhythmic ticking noise could be heard. Tick…tick…tick…what was that…? Then it hit me, it was the the faint but ever present sounds of the second hand on my watch ticking away and eventually breaking my concentration. While I could have remained there in that moment for a while longer, it was time to break my focus, continue on my hike and gradually make my way back to the summit and work. While the moment had to come to an end, it was nice to pause for a moment and really listen to the world around me; something I think we should all do from time to time.

Short description of imagePano of Friday afternoon looking from Boott Spur (left) to LaFayette (right)


Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist

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