Volunteer Week Thoughts

2013-01-30 22:40:45.000 – Hilary Clark,  Summit Volunteer

Our smallest “Observer” taking a cat nap.

This past week was my second winter volunteer week. This shift has been all about the wind. Previously I had experienced high winds for one day but this shift saw five days of winds hitting 60-100 mph. Add that to the frigid temperatures and our choices of activities were limited.

Over the last five days I have loved the energy of the high winds and cold temperatures. No matter where I was in the observatory, I could hear the wind. When there was a higher gust, I would always check to see its strength. I couldn’t go outside beyond the cover of the building without risking being blown away. It’s quite an experience to have the wind control my movements, changing the course of my walk; making me walk like a drunkard when I wanted to walk in a straight line. Each time I headed out, I would spend ten minutes putting on 3-4 layers: long underwear, fleece, snow pants, balaclava, face mask, goggles, hooded fleece, ear muffs, parka, glove liners, mittens; and I was still cold within a few minutes.

Since I lasted five minutes at a time in the -70 wind chill, I spent most of this week in the kitchen. Even there, the sounds of the winds were inescapable. I baked more in the last six days than I have over the last six years. I baked different home baked bread daily, blueberry muffins, macaroons, cookies, apple pie, cheesecake. Feeding the visitors and the crew can be a fulltime job if you make it so. With the winds howling, Betty and I chose to make it so.

Monday night, two nights before our shift ended, the winds were imperceptible. The silence was striking. I could hear the snow falling on my parka. I could hear the snow crunching under my boots. I went outside with only a parka, jeans, mittens and hat on. My face was exposed and I didn’t risk frostbite. And Tuesday morning, there was a fresh layer of snow everywhere. We walked down the auto road a bit in the sunshine and appreciated the beauty of this place. What a wonderful week it’s been.


Hilary Clark,  Summit Volunteer

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