Guess I shouldn't quit my day job just yet to become a weather forecaster. Last week I wrote that a series of low pressure systems could give us a Nor'easter on Friday. Instead we got record high temps some rain on Friday and a peak gust at 120mph. Not the snow we were hoping for! Although being a weather forecaster is one of the few jobs you can be wrong at and still keep your job. I like that. Muddy Paws Sled Dog Kennel was going to try a summit attempt last Thursday morning but bagged it due to a bad weather forecast. Karen and Neil at Muddy Paws are super concerned about their dog's health and well-being so didn't want a single paw on the mountain with a forecast of an impending storm. As it turned out the weather didn’t turn until late in the day. Thursday morning was blue bird perfect. However, a 'Husky' did make the summit that day though but not the dog type of husky but a mechanical snow groomer machine made by Prinoth in Quebec called a "Husky."
At Mt Washington State Park we are always looking to be the best we can be as stewards of the summit and as the snow transportation industry is changing and improving so should we. Downsizing or upsizing are our only two options when considering a replacement for our aging snow tractors as our current BR 275s are no longer manufactured.
Going up costs too much money ($350K) and these machines are built wide to cover lots of ground at a ski area. Going down is energy efficient but we can't haul as many people or plow as easily thru the humongous snow drifts we encounter on the Auto Road. We're thinking keeping one of our BR 275s as the "attack cat" for road maintenance and use a smaller 174hp Prinoth Trooper for our day-to-day transport needs and for taking our staff and contractors to summit. There are small passenger cabins available that fit on the back of each machine. We have been experimenting with these snow utility machines this week to see how they would work on the auto road in winter. One of the many neat features about these new models of snowcats are that operating is much easier and intuitive. This would allow it so all our staff could take the wheel and drive the machine up or down saving the need for a special "operator" to be with us on every trip.
We are seeing more and more skiers at the summit among the hikers but the snow conditions are changing daily so please check the USFS Snow Rangers report for Tuckerman Ravine. The ski gullies on Mt Clay, look rock hard and a small powder pillows at top may suck an unsuspecting skier into a slide for life. Be careful as there are pockets of slab snow on top of hard crust that can still slide!
The other cool thing that happened this week was in preparing a capital budget report for our parks' advisory group, the Mt Washington Commission meeting on Friday, I happened across a couple of aerial photos of the summit. The volunteers of Mt Washington Commission
help advise the Division of Parks and Recreation in making the best choices for the future of the Mt Washington State Park. The following tongue-in-cheek aerial photo taken by one of our local pilots (with a little photo-shop) shows what he thinks the summit might look like with a new restaurant concession! Fortunately, this is not the direction our Commission is steering us towards.
The other aerial photo discovered show interesting striations on the east side of the summit cone. Maybe made by the an ice sheet many centuries ago? I sent it to a geologist friend who sent to Bates University Geology Professor Dyke Eusdon.
Dyke wrote: "These lines are in the orientation of the major Devonian Littleton Formation bedding and foliation planes as shown on my map. In this region the planes roughly strike north and dip moderately west. I suspect the lines Mike refers to are related to these fabrics as enhanced by differential erosion between schist's and quartzite's and possibly bedding/foliation-parallel fractures or faults. We could really use Presidential Range regional LiDAR coverage and then we'd know for sure!" Just when you think everything has been "discovered" about Mt Washington there are new tools and thinking that adds to our knowledge base. We still have lots to learn from the past which could help us in mapping our future. Good Luck to Muddy Paws Sled Dog Kennel in their attempt to be the first to reach the summit of Mt Washington in winter by dog team this Wednesday, March 14. They have a furry fan waiting to greet them when they arrive!