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A glorious week on the mountain

  • It's like being in space, the undercast, looking down, the sliver moon laughs, my inability to speak to this view leaves my tongue as numb as my hands. I brace against the howl, unwilling to abandon the rime. —Courtesy of Dan Szczesny

  • UNDERCAST: The undercast grinds like horizontal water falls, pours over the ridge; breaking down into the Great Gulf, into the valley – clouds flow, turned by the deep sunset into pink and blue sheets of cotton candy. My eyes blur in the wind, or in the adulation. —Courtesy of Dan Szczesny

  • HOLY PLACE: This place, this holy place of steel and chains, of canned goods with dust on the lids, of scientists and madmen, of wind that can crush you in its embrace and you can’t breath from joy, and the trail signs cast shadows on the ice like a crucifix on a cloud. —Courtesy of Dan Szczesny



Co-published with Manchester Ink Link and InDepthNH.org
Friday, April 21, 2017

For one glorious week – full of sun, wind, rain, snow, sleet and wonder – I lived in the highest place in New England, atop Mount Washington at the Mount Washington Observatory. I researched, interviewed weather observers and hikers, spent afternoons in the sun or the ice and I took notes for my upcoming book, The White Mountain. Here are some of my notes from my first day there, with accompanying photos.

UNDERCAST: The undercast grinds like horizontal water falls, pours over the ridge; breaking down into the Great Gulf, into the valley – clouds flow, turned by the deep sunset into pink and blue sheets of cotton candy. My eyes blur in the wind, or in the adulation.

SPACE: It’s like being in space, the undercast, looking down, the sliver moon laughs, my inability to speak to this view leaves my tongue as numb as my hands. I brace against the howl, unwilling to abandon the rime.

HOLY PLACE: This place, this holy place of steel and chains, of canned goods with dust on the lids, of scientists and madmen, of wind that can crush you in its embrace and you can’t breath from joy, and the trail signs cast shadows on the ice like a crucifix on a cloud.

SELFIE: I’m no cook, but I wobble through chicken parms and mixed veggies. I’m no mountaineer but I hike/fall down to an outcropping to bring back the ice and sun. I’m no poet but I can wax on and on about the sky. But I can see magnificent lines and history and the lineage of a selfie in a bread box.

FIRST DAY: Storms ahead my friends, but tonight … tonight was a gift. I have never been on this mountain this late, witness to every ray of light against the ice and it is glorious. So on Day 1, goodnight from 6,288 feet and sleep well, thus ends my broadcast day.

(Manchester author and journalist Dan Szczesny’s column, 365 Days of Mountain Mischief, includes snippets from his upcoming book on Mount Washington, “The White Mountain,” coming out in 2018. To become a donor or sponsor for the White Mountain Campaign, email Dan at danszczesny@gmail.com or visit hobblebush.com/product-page/the-white-mountain.)