View Full Version : Volunteer 11/21/-11/28/07

KD Talbot
11-21-2007, 10:48 PM
It is a remarkable day here on the summit. After four and a half years, the generators have been shut down. It is quiet outside the Sherman Adams Building! Less than an hour ago we switched over to what is being called "Valley Power". The trenches that were dug beside the Cog Railroad tracks have been filled in, and there are power cables that now reach the summit. Of course there are many opinions about the damage done to the mountain to complete this project, but, it is quiet and there are no diesel fumes. To me, that is a vast improvement. Eventually, the walls that housed the diesel generators will be torn down, and the front entrance will be returned to it's original state. In a way that is too bad, those walls offered good shelter from the west winds for hikers, and for observers making the trip to the precip can.

Today was shift change day, always a hectic day on the summit. I arrived at the base of the Auto Road with little trouble, it was strange this morning to drive through North Conway, it was like a ghost town. Stranger still to see the parking lot at Pinkham Notch virtually empty. Not too many hikers today, as the weather was miserable. http://www.ghostflowers.com/forumshots/croo.jpg
We rode to the two mile post in the MWO van, then switched all our gear to the MWO Bombardier, better known as the Sno-cat, though that is a brand name and doesn't apply to this machine. At the summit was the usual line of folks passing gear and supplies, first unloading the tractor, then reloading for the group that was heading down. Inside I got right to work putting groceries away, cleaning up and getting ready to make supper. I had Red, (Chris's Irish Setter) and Tank, another very young dog, who belongs to one of the fellas working on the power switch, I didn't catch his name, for company in the kitchen for most of the afternoon. Nin was in and out, checking on the commotion and letting the dogs know who the king of the mountain was.http://www.ghostflowers.com/forumshots/nin.jpg

We had taco pie for supper and no one complained, I guess they liked it! I went outside for a few minutes, temps were in the mid-thirties and it was raining. Visibility was about fifty feet. Took a few pictures, but it was mostly a waste of time. The rain was ruining the rime ice and chunks were falling off the towers, so I went back inside. http://www.ghostflowers.com/forumshots/icefall.jpg
Looks like more crummy weather for tomorrow, just as well, big day in the kitchen! Happy Thanksgiving from the top of New England!


11-22-2007, 07:06 AM

Thanks for posting your report and pictures. How about giving us names for each of the crew in the picture above? Have a great week.

11-22-2007, 07:24 AM
This is great, somehow I knew you'd have a posting sometime today. Keep up the good work!

11-22-2007, 11:12 AM
Nice shots Kevin, your doccumentary pictures always give a wonderful and full feeling of place. I look forward to the rest of your week.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the rock, and good luck with the Turkey!!!

11-22-2007, 12:05 PM
Nice shots Kevin, your doccumentary pictures always give a wonderful and full feeling of place. I look forward to the rest of your week.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the rock, and good luck with the Turkey!!!
I thought he said he only knew how to cook hot dogs and beans.

11-22-2007, 01:00 PM
With enough hot dogs & toothpicks you can "shape" a turkey :)

I thought he said he only knew how to cook hot dogs and beans.

Mike D
11-22-2007, 01:29 PM
You can get turkey franks.

11-22-2007, 02:07 PM
We need to be quiet now and not disturb the cook. Is the big meal at noon or the evening?

KD Talbot
11-22-2007, 02:11 PM
I'm killing some time before I put the turkey in the oven. Nope, no turkey dogs, but not a whole turkey either. The whole turkey we have up here was big enough to feed an army, so we scaled down and I'm going to cook a turkey breast. Never done this before. You don't stuff it and it cooks in a foil wrapper. I hope it's a real butchered turkey and not turkey loaf. I hate turkey loaf and that would really bum me out if I had to serve that to these fine people.
Red and Nin have kept me company in the kitchen all morning. Everything's ready to go, I just have to wait because we don't have supper until seven tonight. I spent an hour or so writing, then went outside for a stroll around the summit. What is awesome is all I could hear was the wind, and it is gusting pretty nicely out there today. Strange that it is blowing from the south and the temps are in the low forties. All the ice has melted off of things and is laying in heaps on the ground. The gusts are reaching sixty MPH. Not enough to knock me down, but enough to blow me off balance. Hopping around on the wet rocks above treeline would prove very tricky today. I hope most hikers have stayed below treeline, though I saw one pair of bootprints with crampons in the melting ice near the Stage Office. I got up at 5:50 in case there was a sunrise to be seen, but no such luck, so I went back to bed. I may repeat this tomorrow from the sounds of the forecast. It's OK, I've had really good weather on my other trips here, so I was due for this. It should clear Saturday. The bad weather gives me a chance to write and do some reading, otherwise I'd be out visiting the nearby crags. There's nothing noteworthy to photograph today, hopefully something will happen before too long. Maybe I'll get a group shot at dinner, though I told them I wouldn't do that to them again. I'll do a quick update after I've cleaned up tonight.


11-22-2007, 02:16 PM
I absolutely get the goosebumps when Chris has Red with him in the AR season.

He is the spitting image of a dog I had for almost 16 years, a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter Cross. What GREAT company! Just watch the counters, Kevin, LOLOL, Hancock could clean them of anything not nailed down, absolutely silently, if I so much as turned my back.

Not that RED would do that :rolleyes: Nin would rat him out.


Edit to add how spooky it is that you posted Red's pic at the same time I was getting misty eyed remembering the Thanksgiving Day when Hancock thieved a goodly chunk of Saga Bleu from the appetizer tray. Thanks Kevin, that was a GIFT.

KD Talbot
11-22-2007, 03:27 PM
Yeah, I've caught him with his nose up on the counter, but he's been a good boy so far. It's nice to have a "real" dog around. My little dog at home is a very fussy eater, I've never seen anything like her. She'll turn up her nose at food just like a cat. Shnub. Just like the comic strip Mutts. Red, on the other hand, came and put his head in my lap while I was peeling butternut squash. He looked so forlorn, I had to give him a piece of rind. I figured he'd sniff it and give up, but he wanted more, like potato chips. I didn't give him much, and later he had some potato peels. When I threw the rest in the trash he looked at me like, "What are you doing? I'll eat that!" I had to explain that was pig food, not dog food. He didn't look convinced.


11-22-2007, 03:49 PM
Red ...forlorn? With those bouncing eyebrows? Oh Yeah. Please. I know that look. Love on him for me, anyway. I'm a big sap.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Summit Crew.

Does Tank belong to T-bone of the WMC crew? Those guys were a hoot and a holler all summer. A most personable and FUN group of hard working go-getters.

Dang didn't they work their butts off to get that project done this early, I didn't think their completion date was expected until sometime in the Spring of 2008. I'm glad they brought the project in for all of you up there.

My turn to get the goods on the table.


KD Talbot
11-22-2007, 08:56 PM
Thanksgiving dinner is eaten, we're all cleaned up. Thanks to Karen Hemeon for the excellent pies! Chris from the State Park joined us. He had some help carving the turkey.



11-23-2007, 02:12 PM
This was before Nin decided to play with the food on MY plate!

KD-like the picture of the group, I believe that is one of three pictures in existence where I don't look terrible!

KD Talbot
11-23-2007, 02:15 PM
I took a short stroll around the summit this morning. Temps were between 0 and 5 degrees, winds 40 to 50 MPH, windchills 25-30 below. Nice! I even ran into a few hikers!


Our windows provided no view this morning.


Rime has covered the Stage Office.


This shot is from the top of Tuckerman Ravine Trail just before you hit the parking lot.


The Carter Range and Wildcat Ski Area.

More later.

Steve M
11-24-2007, 09:36 AM
Sounds like you are having the time of your life keeping man and beast satisfied.:) Great pics. Keep em coming!

KD Talbot
11-24-2007, 12:32 PM
It is right precious to behold
The first long surf of climbing light
Flood all the thirsty east with gold.
- James Russell Lowell

I know people get sick of looking at sunrise/sunset pictures, but I will never get sick of watching the sunrise from the summit of Mount Washington. I think everyone should endeavor to at least once in their life see the sunrise or set from the top of New England.


I was greeted with this pre-dawn view of Nelson Crag as I stepped out into the -5 temp, 60 MPH winds and -40 windchills to take these pictures.


Mounts Adams and Madison bask in the alpenglow of sunrise.


As the sun rises in the east, the full moon sinks into the "Belt of Venus" behind the Observatory tower.


What better place to watch the man in the moon lay his head down to sleep?


Mount Jefferson wraps up in a cozy blanket of clouds.


KD Talbot
11-25-2007, 03:10 PM
Today, 11/25 has been another read a good book, cook a good meal type of day here on the summit. Winds outside have been around 70 MPH all day with the peak gust being around 85. I was out on the deck for that and it blew my 210 lbs around a little bit. It didn't knock me down, but I wouldn't have wanted to be bouncing around on the rocks above treeline. Visibility has been about 50-60' all day and temps have actually warmed up to 13F. The wind chill is only -15 right now, balmy compared to parts of yesterday and the day before.

Because of the lack of visibility all day I have no new pictures, so you'll have to settle for some from yesterday at sunset. Yesterday was an amazing day to me, it was the only day so far I have been able to get outside and see anything. I've been outside everyday, but the visibility has been zilch. At daybreak I witnessed the sunrise while the full moon set, almost simultaneously. At sunset it was the complete reverse, again, almost simultaneous. Here are some shots:


Looking north to the Mahoosucs, Mahoosuc Notch can be seen in the left center.


Montalban Ridge to the south. Mounts Isolation and Davis can be seen along this ridge.


Shot of the rime ice on a post near the summit.


Moonrise over Mount Moriah. Nelson Crag is in the foreground.


KD Talbot
11-25-2007, 09:02 PM
Winds died down to 50mph and temps stayed in the mid-teens when I went out just before sunset. I really didn't expect to see anything, so when I saw a golden orb trying to break through the fog, I got ready and I was lucky enough to get a few shots over the next half hour before the summit was engulfed in fog once again.


Setting sun over the Crawford Path.


For a moment, the veil is lifted.


Mount Adams makes the backdrop for the Observatory tower at sunset.


11-26-2007, 04:08 AM
Some questions for you:

- When there is an EduTrip where do all the extra people sleep?

- When the GMA folks were up, where did they stay, have meals and sleep?

11-26-2007, 10:58 AM
Some questions for you:

- When there is an edu trip where do all the extra people sleep?

- When the GMA folks were up, where did they stay, have meals and sleep?

there is a room with 3 bunk beds that sleep the 6 people on the trip and i think peter slapped up stairs some ware and Michele took the conference room.

I'm sure the GMA people used the bunk room and any were they could put a sleeping bag down

KD Talbot
11-26-2007, 01:14 PM
There is the 6 person bunkroom as charlie mentions, and also 2 3 person bunkrooms for the Observers/interns and a 2 person bunkroom for the volunteer(s). In addition to that, there is an extra bunkroom for Obs employees on the State Park side, which I believe they used to open up their own rooms for the GMA crew.


KD Talbot
11-26-2007, 02:08 PM
If you're like me, (and I hope for your sake you're not!), you may have wondered, "What must it be like for the Night Observer at the MWO?"

Well, I've had the privilege twice now to go outside on the summit of Mount Washington around midnight under a (near) full moon. Last time the conditions were cold, but not like last night. Last night was around -10 windchill with 50mph winds, so it was rather difficult to get good pictures, even with a tripod which I held down as best I could while shooting. The reflection of the bright moon on the snow helped to enhance the scenes. Of course, as always, the pictures never do the scene justice, but I tried anyway.


The Stage office under the full moon. The Yankee Building in the background always has a light on at the door for late night checks on the equipment inside.


The Tip-Top House as seen from the precipitation can.


The Observatory Tower. The lights of Jefferson are below.

We are back in the fog today, though at this writing the temperatures are up to 29 degrees with a 35mph wind making it feel like 12 degrees. Balmy!


11-26-2007, 02:35 PM
great shots! I love how it feels black & white until that little glow of orange is seen in the background.

11-26-2007, 04:00 PM
That place gives me the creeps at night!

KD-Hike down went well. I am a little bruised (the worst falls were at the bottom of the tux trail) but not bad. It was great to finally do the hike in winter!

KD Talbot
11-26-2007, 05:31 PM
I was worried about you guys, but then I realized, conditions probably weren't as brutal down below. I am only pulling your leg when I say this, but, it isn't winter yet! Glad you guys made it out well, and here's to your quick recovery from the bruises. Stay in touch!


11-26-2007, 07:09 PM
Great pictures - thanks.

11-26-2007, 07:40 PM
very nice pictures and i cant Waite to get up there to hear nothing but the wind .

Steve M
11-26-2007, 09:40 PM
Thanks for taking the time to keep us all amused. It's almost like being there....well...not really but...

Is that you at the very end of the obscast leaning against the wall with a blue shirt on and a strap over your right shoulder?

KD Talbot
11-27-2007, 01:07 PM
Yup, that's me. Go to the other thread and demand more screen time for me!


11-27-2007, 02:05 PM
Wow, Talbot, I am veeery jealous. Must have been absolutely fantastic - I got that tingly feeling usually reserved for lottery winners when I looked at your photos. :)

What kind of waiting list was there?

Incidently, I just had a dream I was at the top of Washington in winter. :)

11-27-2007, 03:57 PM
You probably had the window open and the fan on full blast, when you went to bed :)

All my "dreams" about the summit are just day dreams :) Especially at this time of year.

Incidently, I just had a dream I was at the top of
Washington in winter. :)

KD Talbot
11-27-2007, 04:48 PM
Acrophobe_ There is about a one year wait. They want you to do a summer stint before you do a winter one.

Spyboy- Take an Edutrip! That's how I got started. When I got here I grilled the volunteer mercilessly about how to get up here to cook.

I'll say it again, if you've ever thought about doing this, do it! I've been stuck on the summit for a week, unlike other times I have volunteered when I have been able to roam to such places as Nelson Crag, the Alpine Garden, Boott Spur, Mounts Monroe, Clay and Jefferson. I still had a great time. The enthusiasm and camaraderie of those who work here is infectious, and they make you feel like a part of the family. They have praised my cooking, even though I know I'm not the best cook they've ever had up here, (not even close, I'm sure.) Even though I have been pinned down by the wind and sub-zero temps and haven't been able to hike this time, it's given me plenty of time to read, write and take pictures.

We've watched movies every night, (they are particularly fond of Mel Brooks). I've had time to work on my friendships with the State Park Crew, Chris, Mike and Diane, and Paul, who are fixtures here at the summit, whereas just when you get to know the Obs Crew, they change personnel.

If you can't afford a week here, consider an Edutrip this winter, it all helps out.

I appreciate you all following my thread, and thank you all who took the time to send your comments and encouragement. And last, please feel free to PM me if you have questions about volunteering here, I will be glad to answer. Thanks again!


At work in the weather room. L to R Peter Sciola, and Aubrie Pace, Interns, Brian Clark and Steve Welsh, Observers.


The view outside today.


In 70mph winds, Steve Welsh clears the instruments of accumulating rime ice. Yes, that is a crowbar.


Rime ice forms on the chains on the Stage Office.


Me after 20 minutes outside today.

If you would like to see the rest of the photos I took on this trip, I will have them posted later this week on my website:



11-27-2007, 06:51 PM
I would say that was one solid performance on your part.

11-27-2007, 10:41 PM

It certainly says something about your writing and your photography when even someone as intimately involved with the Obs as I am is captivated by your posts. Thanks so much for your passion, your generosity and all the kind words you have written about this organization.

Also, I really appreciate the attention you draw to our volunteer program by posting your pics and comments here. While the wait for winter volunteer stints is typically long, I have recently learned that the wait for summer weeks is not bad at all.

If anyone here in the forums has any interest in volunteering at the summit, you can start your adventure by giving Karen (our summit volunteer coordinator) a call at (603) 356-2137, ext. 230. You first must do a summer week to qualify for a winter stint up there, so please give her a call to get the ball rolling for summer 2008.

Just think... in just a year or so, you could also be marooned on top of a mountain, encased in ice, socked in the fog, trapped indoors by 100+ mph winds with sub-zero temperatures, cooking for lots of hungry people! (Yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds...)

Three cheers for Mr. Talbot and all our summit volunteers!

All the best,
Scot Henley
MWO Executive Director

11-27-2007, 11:04 PM

You make it sound so wonderful. The phone should be ringing off the hook. I wish I could cook . . .

11-28-2007, 02:12 AM
...If anyone here in the forums has any interest in volunteering at the summit, you can start your adventure by giving Karen (our summit volunteer coordinator) a call at (603) 356-2137, ext. 230. You first must do a summer week to qualify for a winter stint up there, so please give her a call to get the ball rolling for summer 2008...

Can't believe Scot handed out Karens number. But there is one key point that is neglected. Before you even get a summer, you must be a member. This is a members perk. And for all those interested in a winter stint, you do have to have a summer. But just remember, just because you get a summer week does not mean you automatically get a winter week. If the crew you are assigned to says that you performed well and writes up a positive review, you will get a return request. Each week you are up, you are evaluated, just because you have been up X amount of times does not mean you are immune to getting the boot. And being up here going on three years, I have met a lot of great people.

Steve M
11-28-2007, 07:04 AM
My wife and I are on the books for STP week in 08. We are really excited for this opportunity to be a part of the crew for a week and to spend it on the top of New England. I rate this up with the trip I took to Alaska...a lifetime experience.

11-28-2007, 10:26 AM
KD, I know I'm echoing previous comments: Your Photos and comments are truly, an escape pathway from the daily grind. To be taken in spirit to the Top, the flatland cityscape ebbs. Thank you

11-28-2007, 12:43 PM
I agree. We all thank you for posting and giving us a flavor for what it is like up there this week. I am sitting in a Taco Bell parking lot in NC having lunch, looking at the cold and windy conditions at the summit - and seeing the car temp says it is 88 degrees outside. Wow, it is different. I would rather be with you up top.


11-28-2007, 10:18 PM
KD, thanks for the pictures and writeup. Also, I agree - a volunteer week at the summit is a great opportunity. I had my first week in late October of this year, and will be back in late March of '08.

As Ryan mentioned, yes, you do have to be a member before you can volunteer, but that is nothing in comparison to the experience that you get as a volunteer.


KD Talbot
12-01-2007, 07:47 PM

Sun Dog.


Rime Feathers.

I'm three days off the summit and I'm still exhilarated. I've finally got my photos sorted and posted. Some you've already seen, but if anyone is still interested there are more. The weather was clear the day we left and I was able to take some more pictures. The ride down was with mixed feelings. Longing to stay, wanting to get home to see my family, (and dog!). On the drive home I went over the experience in my mind. Each time is different, and each time is the same. There is much to be taken from the experience if you are open to it. I always try to go with an open mind. There are many things about the experience that are not glamorous, but I didn't go for glamour. There are somethings that I'm sure many would consider hardships, but they can be overlooked when the big picture is taken in. It's just like anything else, if you focus on the negative, then you will have a negative experience. I have always come away with a positive experience, and I am always thankful for the opportunity. I don't think I'll ever make it to Antarctica, so this will have to do!

Pictures here:



Steve M
12-01-2007, 10:25 PM
I am always amazed with how creative our God is. A sunrise or sunset never the same. Rime ice forms...never quite the same, yet always beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Clouds form and dissipate, yet never the same. Infinite variety keeping us in awe. He created all these things for our enjoyment and to keep us looking to Him and thanking Him for His love and kindness toward us. As we approach the holiday season, let us remember His birthday and that He sent His Son Jesus to die so that we may live forever with Him in eternity.