Reflecting on my Summer

2010-08-24 18:57:38.000 – Rebecca Scholand,  Summit Intern


It is hard to imagine that only eight shifts ago I started my summer internship on the summit of Mount Washington. When I look at all I have learned and experienced, it amazed me. I have grown as an individual and gained a wealth of knowledge. I am truly going to miss the time I have spent here but look forward to what the future might bring. Looking back at all I have done on the summit it is bittersweet.

Remembering my first week and my initial view of the mountain driving up for the first time was remarkable. The snow covered mountain and magnificent view just couldn’t get any better. Meeting the observers and settling in made the observatory feel like home almost immediately. One of my first tasks after arriving was shoveling snow. I was in heaven. Next I disassembled electrical boxes that were mounted on the Cosmo Shack in preparation for its removal. Working in the wind and cold I was like a clam in mud. The rime ice that covered the deck and surrounding objects gave me a glimpse of what winter on the summit might look like. Climbing the tower for the first time to de-ice was a rush in itself. Inside I worked at entering historical B-16s to the data base and learning about the weather the mountain sees. Forecasting and recording it were also new ground I was happy to tread on. Writing for the Mountain Ear was also a first. Till then I had never had anything I had written published. In the following days I made two trips down to the Lakes of the Clouds hut to help install weather equipment for one of the Alpine Project sites. Learning first hand about the project was a real treat. One of the nights, Mike took me outside to show me the stars. It was the first time I had truly seen the milky-way. I was in complete awe. Heading off the mountain after my first week all I wanted was for it to be Wednesday again.

My second week was once again beyond words. Thursday morning I woke to an undercast that made me feel like I was on a mountain island. Using the sling psychrometer for the first time was a unique experience. For technology that is so simple it is incredibly fun to do. I also gave my first tour of the observatory and immediately enjoyed the task. Mike took me down to the east snowfields to make a few turns in the May snow. Looking to the snowless mountain sides around us it was a really unique sight. I also experienced changing the barograph for the first time. Getting to use the mercury barometer was extremely exciting. Where else might you get that opportunity? One night, the crew and I hiked down into the Alpine garden to look at the small flowers that were scattered between the rocks. I also got to film and edit my first ObsCast as well as connect to the valley for a Live from the Rockpile. For weather, I saw a corona around the moon, lenticulars, and a smoke undercast from Canadian forest fires.

Week three, like the previous, was quite exciting. I started my shift with working on the new thermoshack. I sanded, fixed, primed and painted it, getting it ready for its installation. I helped in the museum and learned more about retail. On the tower one morning, I got great pictures of a glory. Another night, Mike, Ryane, and I hiked to Mount Clay to see the sunset. I once again got the opportunity to forecast and record it. I also got to shadow Mike and Brian on observations and learn more about the observations we take. I followed Mike out to the East snow fields to make an ObsCast about June snowboarding. I once again gave more tours and was able to show people where we work and live.

Week four, I started by working on a few projects in the cold room, installing some conduit between boxes. Mike and I went on a night hike to the head of the Tuckerman’s trail. The moon was so bright that we didn’t need head lamps at all. The coronas that were visible were spectacular. Another night Mike and I went for a hike down the auto road in high winds and low visibility. It was such a different feeling getting blown around and not being able to see very far. Again I got to give tours, work on forecasting, help in the museum, film the ObsCast, change the barographs, and shadow observations. Surprisingly, the same tasks over and over are so different every time that I love it.

Week five I started my work in the tower. Beginning in the cold room, I scrapped the floor of the old paint, ground the ladders to bare metal, and brushed and washed the walls. Sarah Long also visited for the World Cup game and it was great to get to hear about her time working on the summit. Another night, I witnessed a beautiful sunset, a nine in my book. I was also able to get see some pilius clouds in the distance during an observation. Watching the Newton’s Revenge Bike Race up the Mount Washington Auto Road was also a thrill. I was able to talk to some of the racers and it was inspiring to know why some of them do it for the view at the top.

Week six had its own highlights. Seek the Peak, for one, was an amazing event to be apart of. Visiting the valley for the BBQ dinner was very cool, and I got to meet a lot of the hikers. Throughout the week, I spent a lot of time working in the tower grinding down the stairs and hand rails. I also got to begin work on the new thermoshack housing. Learning to weld was quite an accomplishment. The weather once again presented some amazing things to looks at. More lenticulars and cap clouds were the highlights. Seeing all the variation in the weather gives you a better understanding of how dynamic the atmosphere really is.

Week seven was filled with painting in the tower, tours, and other fun tasks about the observatory. Hanna and I were able to go out and play in the high winds one night making it a highlight of her last week. I continued to work on the housing for the thermoshack and dry fitting it at the summit. Seeing my hard work come together was a great feeling. The week had us mostly in the fog and not as many interesting sights but the winds we had were just as much fun to experience. Seeing the indoor barograph and outdoor barograph read differently due to the wind was fascinating. You don’t realize the effect wind can have on pressure until you can visually see it on a chart. A highlight for me was getting to show my brother what I had been doing over the summer as he has just finished his Co-op.

And now it brings us to week eight, my last week on the summit. This week I have experienced a lot of weather. Clear skies, an undercast, lenticulars, a fog bow, and more. Going about my routine tasks, I realize how unique they really are. I am going to miss giving tours, changing the barograph, filming the ObsCasts, and everything else I have been able to do. Wrapping up my last few hours, I am trying to take in all that I have learned. It has truly been the best summer that I could have imagined. Heading back to school I am excited to be graduating in December but sad I need to say goodbye to the mountain…at least for now. This has without a doubt been a CAVU summer! (Look at my comment from June 29th if you dont understand CAVU)


Rebecca Scholand,  Summit Intern

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