Thoughts On My Time At the Summit

2021-12-06 16:05:30.000 – Sam Gawel, Summit Intern


As one of three interns this fall, it hurts to acknowledge these next few days are my last on the summit. I have been working here since September, and these months have proved to be some of the most formidable of my life. The experiences have greatly shaped the long-term vision of my future, as I now move forward with great confidence that I will pursue graduate education in meteorology upon completing my BA in environmental and earth sciences in 2023, and aspire to a career in snow science or mountain meteorology.


I now understand the weather and climate in a far more holistic sense, taking into account each aspect of the atmosphere in the context of others. By experiencing the most extreme weather firsthand, I can better understand how unique factors can create such unique weather. For instance, a large part of what creates our particularly high winds is the local topography, as the Presidential range forms a v-shape that funnels westerly winds to Washington at its center.


In such a short time at this observatory, I have seen the northern lights dance across the horizon, Milky Way illuminate hikes across the Presidential Range, sunsets melt the sky a blinding red, and clouds cover the earth below me making the summit an island in the sky. Among these endless surreal experiences, perhaps the ones I will hold most dear are simply sitting down for a meal with the other observers at the end of a long day. I have met wonderful humans here and will truly miss them.

While I am sad to be leaving the observatory, I am grateful for the time I was able to spend here. It has been a privilege to get my foot in the door and gain understanding on how I want to spend the rest of my life. On my first ride up to the summit, I remember looking out the window in awe and wondering “do they ever get used to this?” After three months here, I can safely say that I am leaving with just as much amazement.


Sam Gawel, Summit Intern

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