Mt Washington State Park: Friday, July 12, 2012

People of all ages can be so funny when out of their home environment and experiencing something new like a trip to the summit of 6,288′ high Mt Washington. The rugged mountain landscape, cooler air, stronger wind, alpine climate, mountain climbing railroad and auto road is about as different from someone’s home in say the mid-west as night is from day. The questions many people ask of park rangers staffing the information desk exemplifies how far out of one’s familiarity zone one has traveled. Below is a sampling of some of the more interesting questions heard at the information desk. Park staff enjoys talking with all visitors in helping them better understand local geography, weather patterns and summit history, hiking and transportation options. Of course when they get a question they answer professionally but if it’s good enough to remember they write it down afterwards. If you know the mountain better than most you may enjoy a sampling of these questions below!

Top 100 True Questions asked of Mt Washington State Park employees at the Summit Information Desk:

  1. Where are the presidents’ faces carved into the mountain?
  2. Is the red and white tower an oil well?
  3. Are you a native Vermonter?
  4. Is there a Howard Johnson’s in the Great Gulf?
  5. Hiker to Mom on phone: “I’m on Mt. Washington, New Jersey!”
  6. Where do I go to see the Old Gray Man:
  7. Are your trails paved?
  8. Did they start building the road from the bottom or the top?
  9. How often do you fire the fog horn?
  10. Is Tuckerman Ravine above us?
  11. Has a woman ever climbed this mountain?
  12. Is walking down called hiking?
  13. Is the black smoke near the tracks coming from the chimney venting a volcano?
  14. Do you melt snow for water?
  15. Are those clouds on a time schedule?
  16. Where does the air stop?
  17. Where did I start to get up here?
  18. Tell me, who would want to come up here in weather like this?
  19. Where did my girlfriend go?
  20. I hike all the way up here. Ain’t I supposed to get a patch?
  21. Does the train leave from the top or the bottom?
  22. What’s the name of this mountain again?
  23. What’s the name of the trail that I just came up that’s short and steep?
  24. Do you work for the state of Connecticut?
  25. Do you have hair dryers up here?
  26. Boy, the visibility is over 90 mph!
  27. What percentages of people who come up here die?
  28. After they hike up the 2000 mile long Appalachian Trail, how do they get back down?
  29. I’m not a hiker. Am I allowed to talk to you?
  30. Are the brooks up here fresh or salt water?
  31. Are the Lakes of the Clouds above or below us?
  32. What color fence posts do I follow to get to the base?
  33. This is my first time up Mt. Washington. What am I supposed to do now?
  34. You say that is the ocean we’re looking at out there. Which one?
  35. Who cut down all the trees up here?
  36. Where did I leave my car?
  37. At what time will this fog clear?
  38. Does the train go to the bottom?
  39. When does the ferry leave for the Lakes of the Clouds?
  40. Can I drive my car to Tuckerman Ravine?
  41. Is the summit on top?
  42. You claim this place has the world’s worst weather; I always thought Philadelphia did.
  43. Is the Crawford Path still where it used to be?
  44. Who painted all the rocks green?
  45. Is there any danger of this mountain erupting while I am on it?
  46. Which of those mountains out there is Everest?
  47. How come I can still breathe this high up?
  48. What’s this White Forest? Is there anything to see?
  49. Does the wind get so high that you don’t let people under a certain weight out of the building?
  50. Is there a one hour time difference between here and the bottom of the road?
  51. Are those rock piles grave sites?
  52. Do you have an elevator to the base?
  53. Are we above tree line?
  54. Does the train go up and down?
  55. Are the hiking trails man-made?
  56. Are there concrete walls that come down over the windows in the winter?
  57. How do they keep the Lakes of the Clouds filled?
  58. What effect does elevation have on toothaches?
  59. Where are all the dead people?
  60. Did Lizzie Bourne come up here with a tour guide?
  61. What does “no tenting” mean?
  62. Does it rain up here?
  63. The sign says “Adams Summit Building”; I thought I was on Mt. Washington.
  64. How high is the other side of the mountain?
  65. What size does that medium t-shirt come in?
  66. When I sign the hiker register, am I registering for a prize?
  67. How come you let hikers hike alone?
  68. Hiker: “Do you have a microwave oven?” Ranger: “Yes.” Hiker: “Can I use it to dry my boyfriend’s pants?”
  69. Cog passenger at Base Station: “Does that engine push us up or does it just follow?”
  70. Is this named after the state of Washington?
  71. Is the Empire State building higher than this mountain?
  72. Is the summer White House up here?
  73. Are the trails lit for night hiking?
  74. Is this elevation good for wrinkles?
  75. If I hike the Appalachian Trail, do I need a gun permit for each state?
  76. Those water barrels along the Auto Road that say “Not for drinking” – are they there just to torture thirsty hikers?
  77. Can you see New Hampshire from here?
  78. Do you have diapers as part of your first aid equipment?
  79. Visitor looking at Cog: “Is that man-made?”
  80. Where’s the sign that tells how many people jumped from here?
  81. Can you drink the water out of the toilets?
  82. The mountain is man-made, isn’t it?
  83. Does the altitude make kids crazy?
  84. So, those piles of rocks, are they for baking chickens or what?
  85. Visitor looking at train: “What are they mining up here?”
  86. Isn’t our weight different up here?
  87. If I mail this postcard here will it be postmarked Mt. Rushmore?
  88. I think you should have a separate summit for the hikers.
  89. Woman to stage driver: I thought the Atlantic was bigger than that.
  90. On a day with 130-mile visibility: “Is it always this hazy?”
  91. Do you ever see bears in the woods? Yes. What state are they from?
  92. What’s the most snow to fall up here? “In 68-69, 566 inches of snow fell on the summit; that’s almost 50 feet.” Did that all come at once?
  93. What kind of bulldozers did they use to build this road in the 1850s?
  94. Hiker looking at Barometer “They use that to measure for earthquakes.”
  95. Is the gravitational pull more or less up here?
  96. How often do they replant the Alpine Garden?
  97. Do the cairns have lights on top of them?
  98. Do you have any portable maps?
  99. Are these rocks real? I can’t imagine anyone carrying them up from the bottom.
  100. Excuse me, can you show me how to use the coin operated pay phone? – Teenage girl hiking.
Hairbell & Alpine Avens Blooming in Alpine Gardens This Week



Mike Pelchat, Manager of Mt. Washington State Park

I've been working atop Mt Washington for past 30 years so you can guess I like it above the tree line! After all these years I still never tire of the beauty of our NH White Mtns and consider my employment an extreme honor and privilege to work for the State Of NH and serve its visitors. When not on the summit you can find me enjoying the rock & ice climbing one of the many beautiful granite cliffs we have in Franconia, Crawford or Echo Lake State Parks. I have taken these climbing skills learned at our NH State Parks to climb in Alaska, Andes, Canadian Arctic and Himalayas. I live in Gorham NH with my wife Diane Holmes.

3 thoughts to “Mt Washington State Park: Friday, July 12, 2012”

  1. I could imagine myself asking some of these unwittingly, actually!

    Question 95. is actually somewhat legit. Since you are slightly farther away from the center of the earth, the gravitational force due to the earth is ever so slightly less…about 0.06% less than at the sea level, according to my back-of-the-envelope calculation. Certainly a small enough difference that you wouldn’t feel it.

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