Normally one thinks of a Trip Report for a hike. Well, this was like a hike - it had detailed planning - gathered tools to make sure we were ready - there were extreme weather conditions (at least for Corey since he was all bundled up for some reason) - and beautiful mountain views - if we were to be successful.
But, one must start a TR at the beginning. Corey came to Maine for a few weeks of "opportunity to hike and such". So, today was to be full moon at 10:38PM and the weather forecasts were consistently saying today's weather would be clear. Therefore, the plan was to take pictures of the full moon setting over - something. Like Mt Chocorua or Mt Washington or something besides just a moon shot.
Last week we got into the planning and tools part. What time would the moon set - over a mountain at 5,000 to 6,288 feet high? In what direction would it be setting? Where should we be at the right time Tuesday morning to get The Moon Shot? The location needed to provide some flexibility in angle to make sure we can handle a true north heading or magnetic north. We might not know what data we would find. Corey started searching on the Internet (he is a web geek anyway) and found several tools. One said the time of moon rise and moon set and the azimuth for each. It was not clear if it was magnetic or true. This was a good start. Using my topo software we printed out the areas around east of Mt Chocorua and east & west of Mt Washington.
Sunday we hit the car with printouts, compass, water for the dog, laptop with GPS attached to tie in with the topo software, and a cell phone with Google maps and GPS running. We were set to find The Spot.
I think we found every back road, pond, private road (as long as it was not labeled private), mud puddle, ditch and hill around the area. We drove and drove with no real luck of finding a good view spot of something at a 276 degree heading for the moon set today.
Sunday evening (I told you there was a lot of planning for this expedition) Corey found some more web sites. One integrated the moon rise, GPS coordinates and Google map to show what stars (and moon) would be seen from a specific location looking in a specific direction at a specific time. He picked the NE corner of the Wildcat ski area parking lot at 5:00 Am today looking 276 degrees (almost due west). That had a good chance of working out - if the weather was clear. He did not tell me till after the photo shoot the mountains in the image were bogus. So, I believed him - since it came off the Internet it must be right. The weather web sites were starting to say Partly Cloudy on Tuesday which became a big concern. We did not have the right equipment to handle Partly Cloudy.
At 3:00 Am this morning I picked Corey up and we drove to N Conway. We were going to stop in and say good morning to Scot, but figured he might not be in the office that early. Our first stop to adjust the plan was at the Visitor Area north of N Conway. Would we be able to see the summit of Mt Washington or not? If we could, we would continue north to Pinkham Notch. If it was in the clouds, we would set up the cameras right there at the Visitor Area. We had a 60% probability of having clear skies.
How would we know that? We pulled a trusty MW Observer into the planning. Ryan was called upon on Sunday to see what the chances of a clear summit would be on Tuesday morning. He thought it was looking pretty good and would check again on Monday. We got our weather update Monday saying 60% probability of clear summits at 5:00AM Tuesday. So, if it was clear he would only be 40% wrong.
Back to live action Tuesday morning - we drove past the Visitor Area and did not even stop to check the visibility. We knew it would be clear and we were running out of time depending on where we stopped for the pictures. No time to stop at N Conway - on we went.
As we are heading up route 16 (the going was getting tough at this point it was a lot steeper) and the bright full moon was hiding behind the trees off to the west. It was low and we might not get a shot after all. We had to find The Spot. We did slow a bit as we passed PNVC - it was the wrong angle. On we went to the Wildcat parking lot. The SE corner would have a good view as we drove around the empty lot. Then we went to the base of the Auto Road and their parking lot. But Mt Washington summit was not viewable from there. Good angle - wrong view.
So, back to Wildcat - out of the car - set up 2 tripods and cameras and gear (walked the dog) - and waited for the moon to swing over Boott Spur and Tuckermans. This may be where Corey thinks it was getting cold. In either case we got pictures of the moon setting over the ravine.
We got the stars as they passed by and the moon's glow was still coming up over the headwall.
Then we had time to wait for the first sun rays to shine into Tuckerman Ravine. Back to PNVC to see if the sunrise would be better there - nope. Slowly drove along route 16 north checking for good view spots - none. So, back to Wildcat and off in the corner to wait for sunrise. Fed the dog and waited. From there we did get good pictures of the sun coming into the ravine
And almost got a shot of the Observers on the summit
Once we packed up we went back to N Conway and the view area to get the long shots.
And headed home for breakfast. Some where in there Corey warmed up.
Thanks to Ryan for helping pull this off - it was exhausting. He was 60% right.
The full set of pictures are at