Reflections From Volunteers

2013-09-17 22:22:46.000 – Sandra Fisher & Sharon Camp,  Summit Volunteers

Sunrise w/ rime.

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We have once again been blessed with the opportunity to live on the Rockpile while cooking for the Observatory crew. No two trips are ever the same, so we will share some of our unique adventures from this past week; our fifth time here.

Wednesday morning, we left our homes in Contoocook, NH at 4:45 am, which was an hour earlier than our last trips to the summits. We arrived early so we could accommodate an early shift change for the Observatory Crew so they could go on a Field Trip to the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine for the day. Rebecca stayed here to run the weather station and AJ came up to staff the museum. With a smaller crowd visiting the summit, it made for a quiet and reflective 9/11. Early in the day, a new daily record high of 63 degrees was set on the summit and there was 30-mile visibility. By the late afternoon though, clouds and rain arrived with thunderstorms and lightening on the summit as the field trippers were starting up the auto road.

Our first four years of volunteering was with the same shift of observers. This year however, we were place on the opposite shift. We have enjoyed sharing the week with the 3-“R’s” that make up the Observers: Rebecca, Ryan, and Roger. To round out the crew, the three observers are joined by their intern Pratik and their Museum Attendant AJ. Their “family style” mealtime always included plenty of stories and laughter. And this year was our first time experiencing the preparation of lunch for visiting guests on three separate days.

Saturday afternoon as the rain and mist was clearing, a rainbow was viewable from the observation deck. Saturday evening was delightful with six additional guests and lively conversation, followed by an outside tour and viewing of both a magnificent “moon dog” and “moonbow”. Visibility was 120 miles, allowing the city lights of Portland to shine as vibrantly as the star constellations above.

Great crowds of hikers arrived on the summit both Saturday and Sunday, as well as visitors from The Cog and Auto Road. AJ counted exactly 1000 visitors through the Observatory Museum on Sunday alone!

Monday, as the temperatures continued to dip fall below freezing, the Auto Road closed by 2 pm in anticipation of some possible late day icing. By sunset, visible rime ice with winds gusting to 50 mph and the wind chill at ZERO, we got our first taste of winter for the Rockpile.

Monday evening we discovered blue liquid leaking in the pipes near the stove and in the hood overhead. We alerted the staff and on Tuesday, NH State Park staff determined it was coming from the fire suppression system. An emergency call went out, but it would not be until 5:15 pm when Lance (the repair technician) arrived…just as we were starting dinner preparations. Definitely a first (and hopefully a last) time to experience sharing the kitchen/stove for 2.5 hours, right up to meal time. In fact, we considered calling out for pizza instead of making it!

We have gratitude for the opportunities granted to us this week and rejoice in the creation of God’s country and serenity.


Sandra Fisher & Sharon Camp,  Summit Volunteers

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