Naomi and I went to the White Mountain National Forest on Saturday. The weather was hot and humid—unusual for this time of year, especially since the temperatures reached 93°F. This is also one of the busiest weekends to travel to this park. While it would have been nice to be at the cool summit of Mt. Washington, we had no desire to jostle with the crowds. We had lunch at the bottom of the auto road and simply enjoyed the view. Click on the image for a larger view.
Why life? Is this self-organizing matter a natural outcome of a universe? Is it the nature of a universe to desire consciousness? The Great Gulf Wilderness was carved out by ice in the last glacial period, leaving a world of rock. Yet, in spite of this harsh terrain, life thrived. Layers upon layers of organisms colonized and built this beautiful world. Unlike the eroded mountain it inhabits, it diversified into unimaginable complexity. Click on the image for a larger view.
Naomi and I took a trip to the Great Gulf Wilderness Area last weekend. Instead of standing on the head wall of the glacial cirque, we had entered the base of the valley. The Northern Forest is a unique ecosystem that stretches from the Adirondacks in northern New York, through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and into the Canadian maritime provinces. At the base of Mt. Washington, the forest is mixed. The structure is complex: life carves out spaces in a three-dimensional world that stretches from the forest floor to the canopy. Even glacial erratics, large rocks dropped by retreating glaciers, become home to fern, moss, and trees. Click on the image for a larger view.
The tenacity of life, the ability to hang onto existence in some of the harshest conditions, always amazes me. A delicate balance that does not take very much to lose—a few footsteps from a careless hiker could cause irreparable damage, as could a rock slide. Climate is a constant source of stress. This collection of moss, grass, and wild flowers is at the head of the glacial cirque that is home to the Great Gulf Wilderness Area, just below the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Click on the image for a larger view.
Mt Washington, located in the White Mountain National Forest, is the highest peak in New England at 6,288 ft. or 1,917m. While not particularly tall, the climate can be harsh. The fastest recorded wind gusts on the surface of the Earth were measured here on April 12th 1934: 231 mph or 372 km/h. Winters temperatures are extreme, reaching to below –40º. Even in the summer, the summit temperatures are rarely above the mid 50sºF, about 12ºC. And when you visit, there is a good chance of rain or snow.
The mountain was originally known to the Abenaki as Agiocochook, “Home of the Great Spirit.” The spirit of the revered Abenaki chief Passaconaway was said to have ascended into heaven from this peak.
This view is from just below the summit near Nelson Crag. Alpine Garden and the head of Tuckerman Ravine are just below. Click on the image for a larger view.
Just below the summit of Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is a place called the Alpine Garden. A trail between the heads of Tuckerman Ravine and Huntington Ravine takes you through this rich alpine meadow. This image is taken from the top of Huntington Ravine looking south into Pinkham Notch. Click on the image for a larger view.