Seek the Peak 2018!!
2018-07-22 11:32:14.000 – Ian Bailey, Weather Observer/Education Specialist
Time for another blog post! Our Seek the Peak event was amazing! Over the last several years during the event, the weather has been, well, questionable. High winds, foggy views, and even precipitation played into what some have called a “more rough than anticipated” hiking experience. But not this year. Not at all. We had a very strong high pressure settled in over the region, with plenty of dry air and light winds to help set up a clear, blue, beautiful day for Seek the Peak.
We had several days of this beautiful weather leading up to the event. Of course, it’s not the ripping 95 mph winds from last shift. But I’d rather it be clear and sunny for the hikers. We did get a bit of excitement on Seek the Peak Eve though! A cap cloud settled in over the summit. But given the dry air mass, it wasn’t enough to sock us completely in the fog. Rather, it gave us some opportunities for some incredible pictures!
What had us running outside initially was this lovely atmospheric optical phenomenon known as Brocken Sprectre. Or, as the Observers like to yell, “ZE BROCKEN SPECTRE!”. This is definitely a right place, right time phenomenon to observe, as it requires the observers shadow to be centered amidst a “Glory”, or concentric, rainbow-like rings that form opposite the sun as the light bends through the billions of tiny water droplets in a cloud/fog. So when we climbed on to the parapet of the tower to check out the cloud, we saw the glory behind us and immediately began snapping. Additionally, with the cap being as light as it was, we could get some cool sun pictures too!
So after a good night’s rest, our crew and the incredible team of volunteers woke up and prepared the Obs for tours! We had previous observers, previous interns, members, trustees, and so many other wonderful individuals to help us with the tours. And it made for a really fun and interesting event! I got to watch and listen to people who worked here previously share their stories and perspectives on the Obs, living on the summit, and some of the storms they have seen in their time up here. And I learned a lot! And along with that, I got to talk to many people who hiked up, what they thought of the trails, the Mountain, and some of my experiences up here as well. It really was a fantastic time!
At one point in the day, we stopped tours to allow for the unveiling of the brand new plaque in our Weather Room! Jack Middleton has been a member of the Observatory for a very long time, and has been donating an immeasurable amount of his time and passion to the work we do up here! As an Observer in 1952 and 1953, he has many incredible stories and experiences to share. And it was wonderful to get the chance to speak with him and share stories. In honor of all that he has done for the Observatory, we had an unveiling ceremony of his plaque, and christened our headquarters as the Jack B. Middleton Weather Room! He had many of his friends and family in attendance, and it was a wonderful moment to share with my fellow crew members.
We resumed tours after the ceremony, and by the day’s end we had given 145 tours! The hikers were so excited to have a chance to come in, ask us questions and, of course, go to the top of the tower! And it was great to be a part of their experience throughout the day! But by mid-afternoon, it was time to depart the summit and head down to the base for the hiker expo and the famous Seek the Peak turkey dinner! Adam heroically volunteered to stay behind to continue the observations, giving the rest of our crew the chance to enjoy the festivities. And we are very thankful he stepped up for us!
The hiker expo was a lot of fun too! There were great prizes given away, massages being given to the hikers in need, music, corn hole and, my personal favorite, GIANT JENGA!
Myself, Ben, and volunteer Mike played several rounds of the anxiety inducing game, with each of us winning at least once! So that was a blast! And our crew even got the chance to win some prizes at the Eastern Mountain Sports booth! They had trivia questions that they tried to stump us with. But intern Zach came in clutch, nailing his trivia question where they asked him to name each of the Presidential Peaks from South to North! He even remembered to skip clay, since it’s not technically a peak. So he nailed it, and it was fun to watch!
And of course, the dinner was amazing too! Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rolls. Everything a tired, hungry hiker could ask for! So while we ate our delicious meal, Sharon and the other organizers gave out awards to hikers (the Kilted Hikers are the Kings of the Castle once again this year! Congrats you guys!!!) and raffled off prizes! It was nice to see so many people who care about the Obs so much! And to see who was responsible for raising so much money for our cause was really nice too! It really put things into perspective for me coming back to the Obs.
It was also a great opportunity for us to talk and relax with the other crew! Normally we only get to talk and “socialize” during shift change. And those times can be busy and stressful. So it was wonderful for us to be able to sit down together, eat, relax, and tell stories and jokes with each other. You have to seize moments like that when you can, because they don’t come around terribly often with the way our schedules are structured. So I really enjoyed that opportunity as well.
All and all, it was a fantastic Seek the Peak. The weather was beautiful, the hikers were friendly and gracious, and the festival at the base was a ton of fun! And as we returned to the summit after dinner to resume our duties, we were welcomed by yet another glorious sunset.
I’m so glad that I am back here and once again a part of this amazing Mount Washington Observatory community. It warms my heart to know that so many people care about this place as much as I do, maybe even more! And as the sun set on our wonderful event, I went back to work feeling refreshed, inspired and excited, fueled by the smiling faces and happy stories of all of the wonderful people I had met and talked with this weekend.
Thank you all so much to everyone who participated, donated, and came out to Seek the Peak. Every dollar raised helps the Obs in a huge way, and I speak for everyone up here when I express how truly grateful we are to you all! I am very much looking forward to another fantastic Seek the Peak next year!!!
Ian Bailey, Weather Observer/Education Specialist