Weather was less than favorable on the summit this past weekend with heavy rain, freezing temperatures and winds near hurricane force. Despite these terrible weather conditions 31 hikers trekked up the various trails and 21 of them were under-prepared, needing assistance.
State Park staff assisted these hikers by providing dry clothing from our lost-&-found cache, blankets, warm drinks and a ride off the summit. It never fails to amaze me how these hikers can spend half a day climbing the mountain, ascending higher with conditions worsening, their suffering increasing with every step uphill, and yet the thought of turning back never enters their minds! Today, Monday the weather and upper mountain trail conditions are very wintry. The three following photos were taken by Park Ranger Jim Cyrs this morning.
But back on Friday June 1st, the weather was about as nice as it gets on the summit of Mt Washington with near calm winds, temps in the 50’s with 70-mile views. I spent most of that day with a freelance journalist, Florens Herbst, who is working on a NH White Mountains radio piece for a German National Radio program on unique places from around the world.
In radio the challenge is to paint a picture of the story through descriptive wording along with sounds. Florens would ask a question and I would answer using as much descriptive language that my limited vocabulary allows, all of which will be translated into German in the final edit of the program. Florens’s tour of the White Mountains starts with my morning chores for Mt Washington State Park which begins at Moose Brook State Park in Gorham, where our retail storage building is located. Sounds of loading cases of water and Gatorade into the back of the pickup truck and thoughts about the day’s weather are recorded along with the clanging sounds of tire chains being loaded into the truck in anticipation of weekend icing conditions. Florens’s White Mountain story then breaks off to cover Berlin NH, a bit of its colorful logging history and about a World War 2 prisoner of war camp located north of Berlin in Stark. Plymouth State history Profession Allen Koop wrote a book about the prisoner camp called Stark Decency. Professor Koop says that the German prisoners actually enjoyed living in Stark and the only escape was when a prisoner, who was an artist, sneaked out of camp and traveled down to Boston to purchase some painting supplies. Coincidence had it that he was recognized by an off duty prison guard also from Stark who also just happened to be in Boston. “Hans, you better get back to Stark Camp!,” and he did, with his artist supplies too! Then the story drifts back up to the summit of Mt Washington where we follow the Park Manager on his rounds and daily chores. At the end of the interview Florens asks “Why have you been up here for 30 years?” I respond, “I have traveled and seen a lot of the world, from Canada’s Artic Mountains in Baffin Island, to the Canadian Rockies in the west. I have visited the summit of mighty Denali (Mt McKinley) and other peaks in the Alaska Range. I have seen the spring desert blooms of Death Valley and schussed the double black diamond powder ski gullies of California’s Sierra Nevada Range. From Bolivia to Northern Patagonia to Aconcagua, I have climbed. I have even spent time amongst the Himalayan Giants of Nepal up to 7,000 meters. Out of all these magnificent mountainous areas I have seen the best place of all I have found is right here in the NH White Mountains”, Florens turns off his tape recorder and say “Wow, that’s great! But tell me do you really feel that way or is this just some tourist line?” Without getting into the hundreds of reason why I think living, working and climbing in the White Mountains is the best place to be in the world, I simply say, yes it’s true, this is how I feel!
Below are some neat photos taken last Memorial Day Weekend from the air by Assist-Us. They will truly assist us as we map out the future for Mt Washington State Park. If there is enough interest in these photos we may have them go back up during foliage season. To see more go to our NH Parks Facebook page and click ‘like’!