Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mount Washington

My older sister Nelle is a scientist. It's really neat. I would try to explain to you in better detail what sort of SCIENCE she does, but it's quite complicated. She's tried to explain it to me, but I can't ever seem to get it. I feel better leaving it mysterious, so that I can imagine that she spends her time wearing goggles, pouring anonymous acid green liquid between beakers and cackling madly. That, and I think that she's actually part of Captain Planet's posse, and she's being intentionally obtuse so I don't figure out her secret.

In 2005, she did an internship for the summer on the summit of Mount Washington, in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet tall, Mount Washington is one of the tallest peaks on the AT. She was a research intern with the weather observatory. She did hourly weather observations, forecasting, and meteorological experiments. Largely, she did research on the influence of climate change on alpine plants.

Mount Washington holds the world record wind speed, outside of a hurricane. 231mph. TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY ONE MILES PER HOUR. In other words: it could be a regular day at the base of the mountain, no hurricane going on or anything. However, had you been on the top of the mountain that day, you'd have needed to chain yourself down to something. Otherwise, you'd be rewarded with an intimate knowledge of what it's like to be a kite. It's not usually that intense. On average, in the winter, the wind speed is over 100mph. Nelle said that when she was up there, it got up to around 80mph. 80mph doesn't sound like a whole lot when you compare it to 231mph. To put it back in perspective, 80mph is fast enough to uproot small trees.

Following are some photos that Nelle took the summer she was working. I would like for you to notice the small pile of rocks in the lower left hand corner of the photo of Tuckerman's Ravine. That pile of rocks is called a Cairn. A Cairn is a trail marker, used (instead of blazes on trees) to mark the trail when it goes high enough on a peak to be above the tree line. In other words, Cairns are used in places where the atmosphere and climate is such that trees cannot grow, and only shrubs and short plants can survive the wind. I will be walking along that ravine.

Lake of the Clouds
Mount Adams and Mount Munroe
Tuckerman's Ravine
Ammonoosuc Ravine
The White Mountains

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Amazing pictures! Mount Washington is one of my favorite places on Earth (Even though I broke my ankle 2.5 miles from the summit once. I hopped 1 mile to Lakes of the Clouds and then my husband and the hut croo carried me to the summit. I had been dating my husband for 3 weeks...). ~Flicka