Today was a day of surprises. We ascended Mount Washington this morning, and were scheduled for a visit to the Alpine Garden. This was not your ordinary garden.
Instead of 85 degrees and sunshine, this garden thrives in 45 degrees and lots of wind. Instead of a lush meadow full of flowers, we found rocks. Lots of rocks. But if we looked closer, we could see some tiny, tenacious, treasures — miniature alpine flowers like cranberry (which we sampled, and we can verify that they tasted like craisins), sandwort and Diapensia (a relative of our pixie moss). Mostly it was very cold, very windy and very unexpected.
Once at the top, we got treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mount Washington Observatory. It was so neat to see how all of our data that appears at the click of a mouse is painstakingly collected by lots of instruments and dedicated souls.
We also met the observatory cat named Marty!
On our way down, with the help of AMC Air Quality Scientist Georgia Murray and her intern Lauren, we learned about some of the citizen science monitoring that is happening with the alpine flowers. We will be able to help collect observations the next few days. Documenting the phenology (timing of plant stages) helps keep a record of changes in timing as the climate warms.
Though it wasn’t far, the rocky, downhill trail was a challenge for many of us, but we helped each other along the way and made it to Lakes of the Clouds Hut safely in time for dinner!
Tomorrow we have our longest-mileage day ahead of us, and we don’t anticipate having cell signal to post the blog until Wednesday.
We will fall asleep tonight after a spectacular sunset with the fading glow on the horizon.