On September 6th, twenty residents of New Hampshire took the oath of allegiance and became US citizens at the summit of Mt Washington. It was the first ever Immigration and Naturalization Ceremony held at this location. Employees of Homeland Security in charge of the US Immigration program thought that this ceremony (normally reserved for the Federal Courthouse in Portsmouth) would be more memorable if held on New Hampshire’s tallest mountain. The summit of which belongs to the citizens of the State of New Hampshire as Mount Washington State Park and under the management of the NH Division of Parks and Recreation.
The Feds took great pains to make sure that the Park and its focal center, The Sherman Adams Summit Building, was properly noted in their press release. As most people know, once a press release is given to the media it becomes the press’s prerogative to edit the document to fit the space of their media format. Unfortunately for our Park, the media machine changed the name of the ‘Sherman Adams Building’ to ‘The Observatory Building’ which while shorter to print is incorrect.
The visitor center happens to be named and dedicated in honor of former two-term NH Governor Sherman Adams. Adams also served as President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff and when he returned from Washington became the 1st Chairman of the all-volunteer Mt Washington Commission. It was through Governor Adams’ perseverance and intimate knowledge of the workings of state and federal bureaucracy that his vision for a modern Mount Washington State Park (a NH State Park since 1964) would become a mecca for sightseers and visitors from around the world, helping New Hampshire and New England become a world class tourist destination.
Visiting the summit of Mt Washington via the mountains’ historic access venues such as the Mt Washington Auto Road, Mt Washington Cog Railway or any of the 12 strenuous hiking trails through the various ravines and ridges is the literal and figurative ‘high point’ of many peoples vacation to New Hampshire, thanks to Governor Adams.
The weather during the event was mild by Mt Washington standards with frequent clouds bumping into the summit, creating interesting views framed by puffy white clouds of nearby mountains and valleys. Every 5 minutes or so a slight breeze would throw open a hole in the clouds like curtains on some giant theatrical stage and as quickly as they opened they would close, whetting the appetite for the next act. The lucky new US citizens had one of those Mt Washington experiences that will last them and their families a lifetime.
A couple other neat events took place over the weekend as well: Flags over the 48, is where hikers on the Saturday before 9-11 hike to the top of all 48 of NH’s 4,000′ peaks and fly flags in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center bombing of Sept 11, 2001. Our Mt Washington summit sign was decorated with several USA flags through the day.
Also on Saturday, a special prayer ceremony conducted by local Hindus to pray for world peace took place in the lee of the Sherman Adams Building. Out of the brunt of the strong south winds, these devoted Hindus set up a sacred fire altar and prayed to the female side of Shiva, one of their more important Gods, whom if the prayers and offerings please her, she will grant the request being made – in this case, world peace. We sincerely hope that Shiva was pleased!
Later in the afternoon as the Jet Stream steered a cold front over New England our average 35mph winds started ramping up with southerly gusts over 60mph and one good one hit of 80mph. With the summit shrouded in wet fog visitors and hikers streamed into the Sherman Adams Summit Building wild eyed with clothes disheveled. At the Information desk the question of the day was about wind speed and if they will be able to make it down the mountain or across a ridge to their destinations. Using current radar maps available on the Internet, park staff no longer have to ‘guess’ at the edge of an approaching front and the visitor can see for themselves the location and speed of the front and make their own safe travel decision.
As the weather on the summit transitions into fall, some of the most spectacular alpine scenery awaits those savvy enough to understand New England weather patterns and pick their days to get to the summit of Mt Washington. Views of over 130 miles along with the kaleidoscope of colors as the leaves of the ubiquitous hardwood trees put on their fall foliage show are in store for those who can pick the best of days over the next 6 weeks to visit Mount Washington State Park! Scudder’s White Mountain Viewing Guide, is loaded with information on how to pick the best weather viewing days along with panoramic maps from several more popular White Mountain summits. For more information and regional updates on the progression of NH’s foliage season please visit NH Travel & Tourism Foliage Web sit at: http://www.visitnh.gov/foliage/