Edutrip to Mount Washington Observatory 3/12,13/05
8 miles Elevation gain 4500' in
Bombardier Snow Tractor via Auto Road
Just prior to writing this I have returned from skiing Mount Gunstock on a crystal clear day. Mount Washington was glowing like a full moon on the northern horizon. Continuously my eyes and thoughts were drawn to it. My second winter Edutrip to the summit began a week ago today, but in my mind I am still there. That is the draw of the mountains to me, that once you have gone there you can go again in your mind at any time. Occasionally I let my thoughts drift to the trails and other skiers, but mostly I was still on Mount Washington. On this winter trip to the summit of Mount Washington I got the complete experience. The trip started out in fog and blowing snow which increased incrementally as we ascended further up the mountain, eventually breaking treeline and getting the brunt of the 35-40 mph winds. Stopping for a leg stretch on a sheltered corner of the Auto Road, frozen snow crystals stung exposed skin and forced a complete cover up. Unlike my last trip the tractor never found it's way above the clouds and unloading was done in frozen foggy wind driven snow. After a short orientation and some lunch the workshop moved outside. Conditions had not improved. Fellow edutrippers and I scoured the summit searching for any contrast in the frozen scenery to photograph. Good Luck! Eventually we were drawn back inside where we did a favorite photo sharing session which yielded some stunning photographs. Another trip outside preceded a fine ham and potato supper, many thanks to Melanie. Melanie was very courteous to me as I had many questions about using the summit building kitchen and pantry. I am returning to the summit with my wife and dog in mid April as a volunteer cook! I cannot wait to be back there and hope my wife Judy and dog Emma have as an enjoyable experience there as I have so we may return many times in the future. I did not sleep as well as Nin that night, I was too excited about the next day, but I managed to rest well so felt OK in the morning and was ready to go when I heard there was a good possibility of a visible sunrise. This turned out to be true and as each edutripper stepped out into the predawn light the beauty of an undercast sky was revealed to their awe and amazement. Conditions could not have been more perfect. Eventually my stomach drew me back inside where there was a fine breakfast of sausage and slices of a giant apple pancake, very tasty. Again the group ventured outside this time to hike down to Ball Crag. Eventually we grudgingly had to go back inside to prepare for the descent and the sad end to the trip. After wrapping things up inside and getting all things packed and loaded most of the group opted to hike part way down the Auto Road to be picked up by the tractor as it came down. Conditions had again deteriorated and there was near white out conditions as the wind blew ground snow as well as the falling snow. The sun was gone and the clouds had again engulfed the summit. I think most were relieved to see the tractor suddenly appear out of the snow and fog. Eventually the tractor descended out of the mountain's cloudcap and sunshine and swirling snow was the theme again as trees became full size outside the frozen windows of the tractor. Wayne had done his job by getting us safely back off the mountain. I was sad the trip was over but my feelings went out to the others. They won't get to go back for a week next month!