Volunteer Reflections

2012-08-17 00:21:51.000 – Pat Gross,  Summit Volunteer

One image of over 400 taken.

The unlikely path that led me to this summit volunteer week began last summer as I was driving through New Hampshire and, being from Maine, stopped at a NH liquor store. Finding my way into the gift shop, I picked up the book Life at the Top and the nice lady behind the counter asked me if I’d ever heard about all the stuff that happened at the top of Mt Washington. ‘Check out the website,’ she said. That one comment led to a spectacular family winter snow cat adventure in January of this year, a breathtaking Seek the Peak climb in July and this awesome volunteer week that has gone way too fast. It would be untrue to say that I haven’t met each of my Mt Washington encounters without some apprehension, but what is an adventure without a little nervousness? It assures the blood is still pumpin’. Each mountain experience just seems to get better. This has been an incredible week of meeting people, seeing the most beautiful sunrises, sunsets, clouds, and lightning, all while hiking and doing more cooking in a week than I’ve done in a month at home! Home, incidentally, is at sea level in Stonington, ME.

I had to pinch myself every morning (oh yea, afternoon and evening, too) as I looked at the view out the door or from the observatory deck – even the days I knew I was literally standing in the clouds, unable to see 5 ft in front of me. From the observatory turret, I was higher than anyone else in the whole northeast. Fair to say, I had dozens of those ‘OMG’ moments! Marty became a friend and suppressed the separation anxiety I felt leaving my pet at home. I’ll have the super nice memories of the observer and staff conversations (and the laughs!!) around the family style supper table. Watching them work, their dedication and expertise was evident. Working with veteran volunteer Peter Fisk was such a pleasure and he kept me confident. He also liked hiking and we hiked trails that completely circled the mountain over this week. The eight day week here has gone way too fast.

From up here, I have felt the enormity of nature. It’s humbling to say the least. I feel fortunate to have lived this experience and am taking home over 400 photographs that will forever remind me of the unique snapshot in time on this majestic mountain. Good luck to interns Steve and Emanuel as they leave and go back to college. Thanks to everyone for being so nice and eating what we cooked – with a smile! The one thing that I would say about volunteering up here is: if you’re thinking about it, don’t let hesitation be an option.


Pat Gross,  Summit Volunteer

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