Two Volunteers Reflect:

2008-08-06 07:14:06.000 – Doug Mathews & Bob Foudriat,  Summit Volunteers

Last Thursday’s (only) sunrise…

Notes from our two volunteers this week:

A week as a volunteer is drawing to a close and with the final curtain comes a mixture of elation and trepidation and overcast skies (as usual). The latter being something I’ve gotten used to.

Elation; I miss my family and personal routines that I’ve grown accustomed to over my many years being aboard this planet. I have many issues to tend to as well as a sixteen year old boy who needs guidance (and does he need guidance).

Trepidation; This has been a truly great week in that the staff here, Ryan, Brian, Jim, Ted, Natalie and of course Marty, have been a great Observation staff to work with. Marty’s the furry one.

You see I’ve come to the top of Mount Washington to serve as a volunteer cook for the the staff. This is something that I’ve looked forward to for several years. Where else can you go to immerse yourself in this atmosphere (pun intended) at this altitude with this weather. It’s a world famous location. Friends and family alike asked if I’d lost my mind for even wanting to spend the week up here. My wife and son almost had me committed. I think they’re the ones who lost out. We had to do some cooking, but we got quite an adventure in return.

Along the way, I met Doug from Georgia. We both served as cooks and I might say we did a hell of a good job. Doug brought a southern flavor to the cooking here at 6288 feet. Once settled in, cooking was easy. Supplies were abundant and these guys will eat just about anything so long as it’s not smoking or in flames. We needed to adjust all of the recipes for the altitude but once done Doug and I were able to lay out a rather good menu, if I do say so myself.

As the week developed, I began to notice that this staff is comprised of bright young folks who bring an intensity to their weather positions yet all have a large reserve of humor. I guess you need it up here in the middle troposphere. I watched several of the staff-produced web casts and my feelings were confirmed: excellent staff, good humor.

I suggest that if you have an hankering (Doug’s southernisms) for an adventure, invest your time and talent with this group. You won’t be sorry! It’s free!


This was my second visit to Mt. Washington as I had passed by on July 26, 2002 on my way to Mt. Katahdin and noted in my journal the summit was a very interesting place. Six years later I am back and it is still a very interesting place and I am glad I applied to be a volunteer at the Observatory. Several, well lots really, of my friends asked why I’d want to go. I am surprised they asked because they know I like doing different unusual things and like new challenges. So here I came! The folks we worked with were just a great bunch who are really interested in what they are doing and work very hard at it. I did my best to try and teach them some southernisms and some of my southern dialect, but I’m not sure how successful I was.

Being on Mt. Washington is a great experience, whether you are here for the day or longer. I don’t think you could really get a feel for it in day, as you need to experience the changes in weather that can occur very rapidly. We’ve had 50+mph winds, beautiful sunrises, fog, 40 degree weather, thunderstorms, and of course rain. There was not a lot of sunshine this week, but who cares….its Mt. Washington. Where else can you go out after dark when the mountain is closed to the public, the fog rolls in, the wind is mild, and you are isolated from everything, including those you are working with. If you have never experienced it, you are missing a very, very peaceful event.

Chef Bob (a much better cook than I) and I went hiking down to the Lake of the Clouds Hut on our last day and had fog and rain but we did not care. We both commented as we paused at how tranquil and peaceful it was just standing there in the quiet with nothing visible. Would the sunshine have been better? I doubt it. I’ll be back.



An Announcement:At 7PM tonight, August 6th, the Subaru Science in the Mountains: A Passport to Science series continues at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway.

This week we’ll talk with Lance Roth, a meteorologist and science technician at the South Pole live via video conference. He will introduce you to life at the South Pole and his work examining the Aurora Australis.

Admission is FREE but seating is limited so be sure to get there early. Refreshments will also be served. Thanks goes out to Subaru of America, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation – North Country region and 93.5 WMWV for helping to make this series happen!


Doug Mathews & Bob Foudriat,  Summit Volunteers

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