The Summit Experience

2012-10-05 21:14:48.000 – Samantha Brady,  Summit Museum Supervisor


Everyday on the summit of Mount Washington is an adventure. As the Museum Attendant, you may think I get to experience the changing of the weather as much as the observers, but that would be incorrect. Working on the summit in the museum requires long days working in a basement with no windows. I must ask almost everyone I see who walks down my stairs what the weather is like outside. Some understand why I ask, and others look at me with a very confused look on their face.

With that being said, if we as a crew did not get along as well as we do, I would never have the opportunity to witness half the things I have on this very unpredictable mountain top. Our ‘crew’ consists of three observers, one intern, two volunteers, and one museum attendant. All but one of the observers is awake all morning and afternoon and none of them ever hesitate to relieve me in any change of weather so that I have a chance to witness it.

On any given day, as you may already know, the weather up here can change within hours, better yet, even minutes. Also, as I already mentioned, I very rarely know it’s even happening. When it happens, the excitement levels up here rise. It’s almost like receiving a gift you only dreamed of. A lot of visitors come up here for a beautiful clear day, but hey, unless you’re hiking, forget about it. Why not experience the fun and adrenaline rush of playing in some 60+ mph winds! Or, the experience of it starting to snow after getting to the top either by the Cog Railway or Auto Road when you started at the base on a sunny day. How many of you can say you were in 70 degree weather and drove about 20 minutes into the sky where it was snowing and back into the sun a few hours later?

I believe the full Mount Washington ‘experience’ is not the blue bird skies and 50 degree temps, but the wild most ridiculous weather you could imagine.

On another note, there is one question I am frequently asked that I would like to sum up for most people who may not have any clue. What is it that we do up here for fun at night, or on our free time since we live up here for 8 days at a time? Well, as funny and weird as this may sound, one of our most exciting things we do is wait. If we see a thunderstorm rolling in that afternoon once the building is shut down, we all gather in the weather room, shut off all the lights, and wait. I have sat on top of the windows and have witness some insane direct lightning strikes up here. Up close and personal.

If the weather isn’t going to be anything too exciting for us, the next best thing on any given clear day or night is to gather around on the observation deck, either to take in any and every gorgeous sunrise or sunset, or maybe even something as simple as just staring at the stars, Milky Way, and the city lights in the distance. If it’s the perfect time of year, and the Aurora Borealis is going to happen, we will usually all wait for that knock on our bunk room doors to run outside and witness a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of us who come from cities where such an amazing thing is a rare occurrence.

Last but not least, there is one other thing that most of us enjoy the most. This occurs at the beginning or end of the day, when all the visitors head home and the road and train shut down. As much as we love to see visitors, because it helps us remember we aren’t as secluded as we may think sometimes, we all love to just sit back and take in the peace and quiet when we know it is just us (the Observatory staff & State Park Rangers). There is no better way to start or finish out your day in peace. Here at the Observatory, we work long and hectic days, and we do enjoy our time to ourselves and with each other.

There is never a lack of fun, joking, or even some fun pranks up here. We will always find ways to stay entertained. Weather it’s the excitement of me trying to spook people with ghost stories, or all of us just sitting around the dinner table telling stories or jokes.


Samantha Brady,  Summit Museum Supervisor

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