The Best Season, Hands Down

2012-10-11 18:34:38.000 – Stephen Lanciani,  Summit Intern

A tale of two elevations

Ever since I was young I have loved the Fall season. The leaves change color, humidity drops, and it holds my birthday in September. Plus, who doesn’t love a cool, crisp autumn day when the wind tickles your nose with the smell of cider and apple pie? Until recently, these reasons among others made me enjoy this season the most. I used to only appreciate the changing of the seasons for what they were at normal elevations, but things have changed since coming up to live and work on top of Mount Washington.My internship began in mid-August when everything was still green, and temperatures were mild, if not hot. I came up for my first shift in shorts and a t-shirt, finding it hard to shove all the down jackets, shell layers, hats, gloves, etc. into my pack and eventually into drawers. I wore sneakers most of the time, finding them more comfortable and breathable than my boots, and wool socks were an afterthought. A pair of Oakley sunglasses was the only accessory above my neck, with the exception of the occasional Bruins cap. I wondered when I maybe would have to at least wear a light windbreaker…

My answer came quickly and quite clearly. Yesterday. Now in week 5 of my stay at the OBS, I couldn’t pull out my winter gear fast enough. The word ‘short’ is completely out of my vocabulary, and long-sleeve shirts have found their way to the top of the drawers next to fleece vests. A soft shell jacket, down insulator, and waterproof shell hang on a hook in the weather room for quick access. Down mitts, a winter hat, and ski goggles have replaced my outdoor accessories, and sit on top of the heater below my jackets (notice the plural, jacketS). Those mild 60 degree temperatures have turned to averages below freezing, with almost daily hurricane force winds. Temperatures today struggled to break 20 degrees, and will fall to single digits tomorrow night. Oh and did I mention the snow and ice that now blanket the entire summit cone? It’s like Mother Nature got tired of warmth and flipped the switch overnight. Disclaimer: Yes, as a meteorologist I know that is not the case, but I like to pretend sometimes that it’s this easy.

So does all this change make me like the fall season less? Absolutely not! It’s actually quite the opposite. This rapid and drastic change has made me appreciate the changing seasons even more because I now know how things work at 6,288ft. This Fall, I was given snow for my birthday and a bird’s eye view of the foliage. Heck, I can even make out the faint smell of a fresh apple pie baking in the valley…or maybe it’s coming from the oven vent downstairs…less talk, more pie. Fall rocks.


Stephen Lanciani,  Summit Intern

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