Say It Isn’t Tuesday!

2012-10-30 23:35:46.000 – Joe Kayan,  Summit Volunteer

Gulfside Trail

Today (Tuesday) has inevitably arrived (and nearly past). It’s the last day before the summit staff shift change. This is the fifth time in the past four years that I have experienced this bittersweet day as a summit volunteer. I, along with my observer housemates for the week, leave for lower elevations tomorrow; off the summit of this sublime, ferocious, otherworldly place that the top of Mount Washington is to me. That’s the bitter.

Going home to my lovely wife, family and friends, to my job; back to the pleasant routines of my happy valley life-back to share the experiences and photographs of my week here- that’s the sweet.

Tuesday is not my favorite day up here. It is a day of cooking, as usual. I like that part. But also of cleaning, organizing, taking inventory, and packing to leave. The hikes I haven’t taken, the emails I haven’t written, the book I haven’t finished, must all be put aside until the scrubbing, vacuuming and disinfecting are complete. If this sounds like complaining to you, it’s only because as I write this, the odor of oven cleaner and Lysol are still strong on my hands.

Tuesday aside, the experiences I’ve had as a volunteer are, as the commercial says…priceless! Watching the sunrise reflect off the Atlantic, feeling the crunch of rime ice under my boots, seeing flocks of Snow Buntings flying among the rocks and sedge along the Gulfside Trail, are all inexpressible joys to me. I have revisited many of what are, by now, some favorite haunts up here- the Nelson Crag, Boott Spur, Mt. Clay, Monroe and Franklin. None of these things, even on my fifth visit here, fail to entertain awe as well as inspire and renew my spirit.

This week brought the added anticipation of a big storm. I spent parts of Saturday and Sunday helping prepare the Observatory for this event-weather stripping the tower and parapet doors, as well as repairing and reinforcing their handles. I got to aid Roger in relocating a radio antenna to improve data transmission from Wildcat Mountain, 2000′ below us. I was grateful for the hands-on work and the feeling of helping this hardworking and competent crew.

Out of concern and sympathy for all the people who are suffering from the effects of Sandy, I will only say that it was impossible not to feel the adrenaline rush of experiencing a major storm here in the home of the World’s Worst Weather. The wind literally howled, the vent ducts banged violently with every gust, the windows were plastered with flying sedge, water in copious amounts found dozens of entryways into the building. We watched as the recording arm on the Hays wind speed recorder spiked to nearly 140 MPH. Quite an impressive show.

Many thanks to my friends at the Observatory for the opportunity to spend another drudge Tuesday up here…as well as an unforgettably marvelous week before it above the trees.


Joe Kayan,  Summit Volunteer

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