The Difference a Day Makes

2009-11-20 16:10:46.000 – Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

The Difference a Day Makes

A common topic for comments seems to be the uncommon weather we’ve been having for November. I will continue this trend today by relaying a story of yesterday.

The morning began with a fine sunrise with visibility around 120 miles. There weren’t many clouds to color up, but there was enough particulate in the atmosphere to form a mountain shadow. Alpineglow also painted the peaks to our north as the sun rose above the horizon. As the sun rose higher, the patchy valley fog and lakes turned golden against the still shadowed mountains. At some point, the sun was at just the right angle to reflect off the Atlantic and Sebego Lake.

It was a bit before noon when Steve Moore, a longtime observatory volunteer, walked in the weather room to greet us. He had wisely taken the day off from work and had hiked up the Jewel Trail, over to Jefferson, and was passing through on the way to Monroe. We talked for a bit and I told him how difficult it was to be working inside on a computer on a day such as it was to which he said, “Well, can’t you do it later?” I thought for a moment, and then looked at the clock. “I guess I could head out for a while so long as I’m back in time to forecast.” I said, and we headed out.

We walked down towards Lakes with temperatures in the 40’s and winds around 20 mph. It was difficult to believe it was November as I hiked in just a base layer. Along the way we talked to a few other folks who were skipping work to enjoy the beautiful day. Most of them had come up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and said it was quite icy, giving fair warning to Steve who was planning to head down that way. We soon reached Lakes and stopped there for some water before continuing on to Monroe. Looking back at Washington from the summit, Steve remarked how odd it was to see the lakes frozen over with clear ice on them as opposed to covered with snow. We hung out for a while, and then hiked back down to the hut, ate a couple gingersnap cookies, and parted ways.

I decided to take the Tuckerman’s Crossover trail so I could go up a different side of the mountain than I descended and maybe see a few new sites. This trail is far less traveled than the Crawford Path evident by the greater abundance of sedge in the trail itself. It was very peaceful with the only noise present being the whisper of the wind through the sedge. It is a sound that will soon disappear until spring. Walking further, I found an interesting patch of ice amongst rocks. Throughout it there were some very interesting formations. While there, I looked back towards Monroe and at the few high cirrus in the sky. The ice crystals in one refracted the sun’s rays just right as to form a sundog. Wandering a bit further, I found one of the few patches of snow left on the mountain anywhere. I stopped for a minute to enjoy the scenery and found I was not the only one; two raven friends were also cruising about. A few steps further brought me within sight of Tuckerman Ravine and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Left of Left Gully ice starting for form up! I finally hiked up the summit cone and arrived back to work, ready to forecast. Finishing up the forecast, I watched the sunset and soon thereafter, the moonset close behind it. All-in-all, it was a great day and I am glad I got out to enjoy it before the foggy, wet weather of today arrived.


Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

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