The Journey Is A Destination

2013-03-01 19:37:09.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

5.4 miles away from my second home.

This past week, I got to hang out with a former Observatory coworker of mine, Jim Salge. Long time followers of the Observer Comments will know this name and probably know many of his images that he captured during his time up here. Currently, Jim teaches at a High School in the south of the state; however, in his spare time, he has become a notable New England nature photographer (a topic he will be leading during his EduTrip on March 23/24). Since it was his schools vacation week last week, he came up to the White Mountains in hopes of capturing some scenes he had in mind.

The first day we went out hiking, the skies were overcast and were obscuring most of the peaks around the state. So this meant sunset and the blue hour were out as an option. So we set out for Mt Tom, NH in hopes of photographing a Pine Marten or possibly some Gray Jays. That was our goal; however, that goal was never met. While we did make it to our destination where there were plenty of tracks from a Pine Marten and birds, neither of these animals were around when we arrived. In fact, there was nothing around when we arrived. Instead, we were met by deafening silence since the thick snow and rime were acting as sound insulators. It was that kind of silence where your own heart is overwhelming the thoughts in your head. It was very creepy but also very Zen-like at the same time. But after waiting around and getting nothing worth photographing, we decided to descend in defeat as the sun set on the day.

The second day of hiking, the goal was for sunset from Mt Pierce. I had my doubts that we would be able to see anything again due to the weather pattern (the curse of being a meteorologist), but we decided to try anyway. However, due to a scheduling conflict, we would be forced to hike up separately. When I started up later in the afternoon, the low clouds were still all around, so I didn’t have high hopes for sunset. However, unlike the day prior, I was determined to see some type of wildlife or something interesting on my way up. Hiking up the first 1.9 miles of the Crawford path, I yet again did not see one thing of interest worth photographing. When I arrived at the Mizpah Cutoff junction, I was feeling disappointed again as I stopped for a snack. However, the disappointment dissolved quickly as I found two Gray Jays hanging out in the trees at the junction; finally, something worth photographing! With renewed hopes, I continued up the Crawford Path, where I reached the fringes of the clouds. Similar to the summit of Mount Washington, rime ice and hoar frost formations were all around – with needles and ribbons draped everywhere – yet more things to photograph. But it didn’t end there, during another break; I looked back and saw a creature playing in the snow – yet another thing to photograph. My luck was finally making a turn for the better.

I photographed this strange looking animal and then continued on with this animal continually playing a form of tag with me as we ascended. Eventually this animal scurried off into the woods and I was left on my own again, ascending into the increasingly cotton candy-like forest around me until I reached my destination of Mt Pierce. At that point, I met Jim and showed him this animal I photographed thinking it was a weasel. However, it wasn’t a weasel but the elusive pine marten we were hoping to photograph the day before. It was an awesome feeling; like the feeling I got capturing an elusive Pokémon for the first time. And while we ultimately missed out on yet another sunset, after all I had seen, I felt the hike was well worth it. It just drove home the quote that in life, sometimes it’s not about the destination but the journey getting there.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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