Working at the Half-Way House

2012-07-13 17:29:29.000 – Steve Harshman,  Summit Intern

Instruments on the Half-Way House

Having almost two months under my belt as an intern, I’ve come to know the observatory pretty well. Through assisting in observations, giving tours, and just exploring the facility I’ve learned a lot about the data we collect up here and the instruments used to collect it. All the information gathered on the summit is extremely valuable, but this isn’t our only source of data. Scattered around the mountain and on nearby peaks we also have various Mesonet sites, which provide a tremendous look at how dramatically conditions can change based on location. One of these sites is situated along the Cog Railway at the Half-Way House at 4500ft, and today I was lucky enough to check it out.

Early in the morning I, along with my fellow intern, left the summit to meet fellow Obs staff members who were riding up on the Cog. It’s pretty cool to have to hike halfway down the mountain in order to complete your task for the day. Following the tracks, we made our way down to the station, watching the black smoke from the historic steam engine slowly crawling up the mountain to meet us. Hiking down next to the tracks is not something I would recommend. It’s not a path designed for hikers and this became pretty obvious after all the loose footing we were forced to walk over.

Once we got to the station we were given a little briefing on what this specific Mesonet site measures and how all of this information is then broadcasted to the summit for our use. This particular location sends its data over to the Bretton Woods ski area which then broadcasts it up to the observatory. One peculiar this we learned is that the Half-Way House typically experiences very calm winds, despite sitting on a mountain know for having extremes in this category.

This turned out to be a pretty exciting day; helping take down and put up a few instruments, repositioning the camera, and learning a lot about how we collect data from these remote sites. We even had the chance to wave at a few trains passing by, and were met with very confused looks from the passengers–from their perspective we were standing at almost a 45 degree tilt, miraculously not falling down the mountain.

After a few solid hours of work and our tasks complete, we began our trek back up the tracks towards the summit to rejoin with the crew, making a few pit stops along the way to admire the views, including one spot on the Cog tracks know as Jacob’s Ladder. Quite the experience.


Steve Harshman,  Summit Intern

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