Volunteer Week 1/4/12-1/11/12

2012-01-10 18:04:28.000 – Charlie and Jeanine Kinney,  Summit Volunteers

Tomorrow is 1-11-12, the first full work week of a new year. It’s also the 12th year of a new millennium. We are on the summit of My. Washington, at 6,288′, and, at a quick glance, it looks like it always did. The actual summit is a collection of large stones with a post and sign stating that fact. Slightly below is a plateau, though irregular, covered with buildings, a road, and the “Cog” railroad. The road, opened in 1861, brought guests to the grand hotel on top. Soon to be followed by the “Cog” in 1869. The trains were powered by coal burning steam engines. We are here helping the Mount Washington Observatory which was established in 1932. The observers then were working with the most primitive equipment. The summit is also the highest point in the northeast. The Appalachian Trail, opened in 1936, crosses here and is a significant land mark for thru hikers walking 2,178 miles. The “Rock Pile” is part of the Appalachian mountain chain which is widely accepted to stretch to the British Isles and possibly on to Africa. Now that’s a hike, I have no idea of that number!

Upon closer inspection one would find ,much has changed. Parts of the road are paved now and horses no longer use it. Thousands of cars do and May to October sees a steady stream of people. The grand hotel is now a day use visitor center built in 1980. The “Cog” is now biofuel powered lacking the trademark plume of black smoke. The Observatory has also evolved technologically and electronics abound. In winter the snow cat, with heated cabin, makes multiple trips each season doing shift changes and delivering Edu-trippers.The once bustling Yankee building is now loaded with communication equipment. A buried cable way now carries electricity here where generators were once necessary. We are here to cook, primarily, and are using a 21st century electroniclly controled stove. We are, also, one of the first to dine on the new, brushed aluminum, dining table.

This week marks our 10th anniversary volunteering here and it has become particularly significant. We are working a week covered by a couple of long time volunteers here. They decided to “pass the baton” after finishing last year. They are fondly remembered by the staff and many of the volunteers they had contact with. They were, not unlike the mountain, steadfast and rock solid, unchanged through time. But also like the mountain, ready to accept change and move on. Al and Marion Lake are not only great volunteers but friends beyond description. For more than 40 years we have had the priveledge of working, playing, laughing and crying with them. Thankfully, some things never change.


Charlie and Jeanine Kinney,  Summit Volunteers

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