2012-10-03 21:14:39.000 – Beverly LaFoley, Summit Volunteer
Golf Ball Sized Hail?
No, not quite, but easy to see here on the summit of ‘Big George’ that it’s only a matter of hours between beautiful sunshine and fall colors to snow and foggy white outs. Sound upside down and crazy? That it can be!
I actually found the golf ball on day #1, on my first foray, walking down to the ‘Cow Pasture’ and Nelson Crag Trail, which is just off the Auto Road above the 6 mile mark.
This is my week as one of the MWOBS volunteers on the summit. My partner Warren Schaier and I have split duties beautifully (I cook, he cleans); such a deal! But the greatest deal of all is the opportunity to spend consecutive hours at the summit, because it’s in this time frame that you can witness the true mercurial weather of Mt. Washington in all it’s glory and fury!
We arrived in a fog (no I’m not being sarcastic). It really was thick, with rain barely holding off.
But, less than 24 hours later, we woke to a gorgeous window of blue sky and sunshine! It was now day #2, and our (volunteer) morning chores of dishwasher-emptying and cleanup were done. We grabbed our packs and gear, and headed out for a fall foliage hike down to Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
It was 8:30 AM, and we were on the trail, but its upside down for sure! Why? Because we started our hike down the mountain. That seems to be the way it is up here. The scenery was spectacular: a fall foliage panorama, Bretton Woods, the peak above the nubble, and the historic Mt. Washington Hotel, with her red roof down below. The 2 lakes by the hut reflected blue sky in their full pools.
The OBS meteorologists and observers predicted fog and rain, and then possibly snow moving in, and they were right on! It was a quick hike back up (just ask Warren!), and, before we returned, we were in pea soup fog! Ok, I know Brian, Roger and all call fog by a nice scientific name, but hey, we’re the cooks, so to us, it’s pea soup!
On day #5, yet another quick shift of wind and temperatures, and we woke to my 1st snowfall of the season: an inch or more of the white stuff, and it was fun! Who knew we volunteers would get to experience it all?
Sadly, my volunteer week is ending. Yet, in true dramatic Mt. Washington fashion, it ended on a high with the promise of a full circle by the time I wake up tomorrow.
For today, my last full day, it was back to sunshine, temps in the 40’s, and enjoying a last seasonal hike in short sleeves, no hat, no gloves, and circumnavigating the big boy George himself. I went down Tucks Trail, over Lions Head Trail to The Alpine Garden, and on up through Nelson’s Crag, across the Cog tracks, and back on the summit around Gulfside Trail.
I hope you like my shot of the grasses as they were swaying in ‘the garden’, with sunshine and color all around!
It was a complete experience to say the least! Tonight the fog has moved back in solid, and tomorrow, rain predicted.
Until next time, my grateful thanks to the dedicated MWOBS scientists and observers who made this trek possible: Roger, Brain, AJ, Brian F. and Steve.
Beverly LaFoley, Summit Volunteer