“Here on this mountain top, I got some wild wild life.”- The Talking Heads
Early one mid-September morning, I arrived at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road. It was a clear early Autumn day. Joining one of our Park Staff members for the drive up, I arrived at the summit after the nearly 8 mile ride to the top and stepped out of the Park truck for my first day as the Park Manager of Mount Washington State Park. The position had only officially been offered to me three days prior and perhaps the quick turnaround benefited me to the extent that any semblance of nerves or anxiety had no time to cultivate.
Over 3 months later, I have the Fall tourist season behind me and have been experiencing Winter at the Park since a mid October storm dropped two feet of snow at the summit.
There’s an understanding that there are experiences that come with working here and with managing here that are in front of me; unavoidable circumstances and situations and challenges that will come. They’re welcomed realities for the role I’ve chosen to take on.
In addition to the time I’ve previously spent and visited here, during my time as Manager I may have learned a lot and have experienced the many moods of Mount Washington, I know enough to know that I don’t know nearly enough…yet. The Mountain and the unshakably dedicated and capable Park Staff that work here have more to show me.
In my previous position as the Park Manager of another one of New Hampshire’s storied and busy mountains, I often pointed to Mount Monadnock as being one of the most influential teachers in my life.
But, after 3 months, Mount Washington State Park has offered some teachings:
- the scales of what I used to consider “cold” or “windy” have dramatically shifted
- most people don’t know what the staff does up here in the winter and are curious about it (we will save that for a future blog)
- Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are pretty easy to pick out of the crowds
- the longest lines tend to be for the bathrooms and the photo opp with the Summit sign
- going up and down this mountain regularly, we really have the best “work commute”
- a 108 mph gust is a formidable obstacle to staying on my feet
- getting better at estimating the wind speeds based on how they sound from inside certain sections of the Sherman Adams Building
- when not doing “Manager stuff”, my favorite thing to do here is to interact with the public at our Information Desk
- how dizzying and disorienting white out snow/wind conditions can truly be
- already an all time personal favorite, the view of the Presidential Range’s neighboring north mountain peaks (Mts Clay, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison) from this Park are magnetic and it seems I will never tire of it
- if a photo opportunity catches your eye and you’re free to take it, don’t wait. The scenes are prone to rapidly changing
- people flush all sorts of things down our toilets that don’t belong there, including a curious amount of dental floss. It all gets found and pulled by our staff, but can strain our systems
- what minus 72 degrees wind chill feels like
- that winds can blow hard enough and cold enough to literally feel the air being pulled out of your lungs
- the phone can ring and wake you at all hours of the night, but is most often people calling with random questions about the Park or the mountain that seemingly could wait for “business hours”
- from our staff to the Auto Road, to the Mount Washington Observatory, to the Cog Railroad staff, how much people who work here love this mountain and working here
- that I also love this Park and am exactly where I want to be