Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

February 2, 2017

ARCTIC WANDERABOUT

... for christmas adrien gave me a "snowcat ride up mt. washington" ... earlier this week she made the reservations and very early this morning we drove up to the base of the mountain ... the peak was completely obscured by weather, so we had to have a little discussion about whether or not making the ascent would be worth the expense ... as usual, we stuck to a philosophy we've developed over the years, that if we only do things on blue sky days we're bound to miss some really cool stuff ...

... driving up we saw the famous appalachian trail ... it's fascinating that after crossing this road hikers enter a wilderness area that's almost as primeval as it was in the time of the original inhabitants of this land ... the abenaki people did not set foot on the summit of "agiocochook" out of deference to the gods who they believed lived there ... in fact, when darby field first ascended the mountain in 1642 he did so to demonstrate to the natives with whom he was bargaining for land that the "white men were not subject to their gods" ... 

... in the summer the "stagecoaches" are outfitted with regular wheels and suspensions, but for our trip they were equipped with rather cool tracked drives ...

... ernie, our driver, pointed out the base lodge thousands of feet below ... perhaps from the driver's seat he had a better angle of view, because i sure couldn't see it ...

... adrien and i were the only passengers so we had an unobstructed view ... ernie was able to devote his full attention to the two of us ... he was most interesting, both as a guide and with his personal narrative ... very exciting to me was learning about his photography ... he used his smart phone to show us some samples of the wildlife photography he has done in the area, and i was most seriously impressed ... he's at www.erniemillsphotography.com ...

... we reached the tree line at a little above 4,000 feet ... ernie parked the stagecoach while adrien and i took a little hike ... the soft light was wonderful, but the photograph doesn't quite do justice the the arctic conditions ... i'd estimate the wind was gusting over 30 mph and the temperature was probably in the high-teens ...

... we could see that beyond the protection of the trees the conditions were even more brutal ...

... i thought to myself, " a long, long time ago i used to work 12-hour shifts outdoors on the flight line in conditions much worse than this" ... this is why to this day i try very hard never to complain about the cold ...

... we headed back down the mountain, a tiny bit more visually disconcerting an experience ...

... ernie stopped the stagecoach so that i could get out to take pictures ...

... after listening to the radio, ernie pulled off the road at "radiator stop" to yield to the uphill traffic ... he told us all about the different drivers, their skills and experiences, and how they were trying to open the road above the tree line so that the weather station staff at the top of the mountain could change shifts ...

... as we listened to their conversations it became clear that the drifting above 4,000 feet was rather severe ... last we heard it seemed a consensus was forming that they weren't going to be able to make it to the top of the mountain today ... considering that due to the conditions the changeover is already four days overdue, i'd say mount washington has quite clearly earned its "extreme weather" reputation ...

... ernie was gracious to use adrien's cell phone to snap a rather nice picture of the two of us ... 

... as far as i'm concerned, an all-time great christmas present ... that we didn't see much beyond the edge of the road didn't really disappoint us since we know that this is how mount washington is, and, in any case, it gives us reason to do the trip again sometime ... it was great fun meeting ernie mills, and, as per the rules and guidelines of wanderabout, in and of itself that made this a most successful day ...