Something Old is New Again

2012-03-03 23:43:32.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Mt. Washington from his wife Mt. Martha.

Growing up out west in California, there were peaks galore. But among those peaks, there were a handful of landmark summits that I always looked for to know where I was in relation to home. If I saw them, I knew home (or another destination) was just around the corner or ‘right there’. So, if I ever got ‘lost’, I would always find my way back home. Out here, while there are many notable peaks I look for when I’m out and about, I usually try to find the big one: Mount Washington. Every other week, it is home, but in my off week, I live at its base just to the north. So finding it on the horizon means I always know where home is. Flying out of Manchester, hiking over in Vermont, Skiing in Maine, going to a concert in Portland, etc., I scan that horizon and look for my beacon back home, you know, just in case…

But apart from it being a beacon, it’s also a summit that demands attention. And I give it all the attention it wants since everywhere I see it, it is like a new perspective. Every other week, I am at the summit looking down around me. During my off weeks, if I stay locally, I see it from the north. But when I travel, even if it’s only down to Conway, NH, I look for the summit to see it at a new angle, with different light, different clouds, different shadows, and with a fresh pair of eyes. I’ll admit that even though I’ve driven around the summit numerous times in my six years here, I still find myself pulling off the side of the road like a tourist and saying ‘Wow!’ I don’t know how to explain it, but if you’ve lived here, traveled here, or hiked around here, I’m sure you know the ‘wow’ factor I’m talking about.

One of those ‘wow’ moments came this past week, when I took a hike with a pair of friends (one of them being former observer Jim Salge), up Mount Martha to Owl’s Head on Cherry Mountain. It was a hike that has always been talked about but never executed due to weather or timing, but we finally committed to it. While an easy hike (at least in my standards), the views at the top pay off tenfold. And while my photographer friends were complaining about the lighting the entire time (at least it seemed), I snapped away and just kept thinking/saying ‘wow’ as the sun set on my ‘home’ on the horizon. As with most summits and hikes in the White’s, I know I’ll be back, not only because it was a stellar view but I want to see it with another perspective. I saw how the light reacted this time of year with certain conditions, but what will it look like next time. And that’s what’s great, while the summit is physically constant (relatively), its appearance is forever changing making something old new again, over and over again.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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