Sunday, August 21, 2011

8/21/11 - Exploring the Summit

Let me suggest a theme for you: to state to yourself precisely and completely what that walk over the mountains amounted to for you, — returning to this essay again and again, until you are satisfied that all that was important in your experience is in it. Give this good reason to yourself for having gone over the mountains, for mankind is ever going over a mountain. Don't suppose that you can tell it precisely the first dozen times you try, but at 'em again, especially when, after a sufficient pause, you suspect that you are touching the heart or summit of the matter, reiterate your blows there, and account for the mountain to yourself. Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
Thoreau - Letter to Harrison Blake 11/16/1857 

I had two reasons to visit the summit today; of primary concern was to continue the photographic journal on the progress of the construction of the new tower and other enhancements underway.  The secondary reason was to listen in on a program presented by the Reservation Park Rangers called "A View from the Top:  Summit Stories."  I suspect that I can learn a bit more about the summit from listening to the experts.

Thunder was rolling in from the west; I could hear it as I dashed to the top.  I suspected that the Summit program would be cancelled.  But, I had to get my pictures first.

Well, I beat the lightening and the Park Ranger.  I took about 15 minutes for the program to end as she indicated from the beginning that if she heard thunder, it was all over!  As I looked at the clouds rapidly approaching I knew it wouldn't last very long.

But we talked long enough to learn that indeed the hotels had constructed Summit Pond in the mid 1800's and that the Civil Conservation Corps had constructed the two overlook stations and the stone wall just before WWII - along with the viewing stations on the Summit Road.  The pond was originally thought to be fed from a summit spring on the north side of the pond, but lately, experts discount that idea and subscribe to the theory that it is simply maintained by rain and spring snow-melt.

Then, Thunder rumbled, a flash of lightening was seen in the distance, and a gentle spray of rain began to fall.  Time to head home.  

As I indicated above, I got my pictures first ... Here is the construction story....

Southern (exposed) and Eastern Face (forms still in place)

Notice that the large cement anchors no longer support the forms.  Cement is in place and is now actively curing.  Next week, we will most likely see cement all around!


From US Army Relay Building ...North Face

The North and Eastern Forms are still in place although cement has been poured, as evidenced by the fact that the large cement anchors are no longer required.  I could also visually see evidence of pouring when I peered through the fence.  Another week and I wouldn't be surprised to see all the forms pretty much removed.

Direct view of Western Face of the Base
  My friend Mark, with his wife Leslie, visited the summit yesterday; he pointed out that most of the forms had been removed and that a small ledge at ground level, goes all around the base.  And we can see it here, although it shows better on the pictures below.  [double click on your right mouse to enlarge] He suspects that it is the foundation for the facade that will eventually wrap itself about the structure.  And from the looks, I have to agree.  In the foreground above is the rock-pile from which the stones will be selected for that facade.

Notice the black marks on the wall that angle slightly upward ... maybe 15 degrees or so.  I couldn't see that they are to be anchors for anything that might be attached, but I can visualize the pedestrian walk angling up in a similar fashion until it reaches the top.  As you view the pictures from the east, imagine the ramp as it winds around the center base.

Ledge on Western Wall to support Stone Facade
View - Western/Southern Walls
Western Wall looking South

North-side Ramp as it winds around the NE corner
   The ramp forms have been poured.  This shows that little opening as it is now closed with cement.  I can see that it has been poured this past week.  The only way to enter the inside of the base now is through the south-side opening.  The observation ramp, from this corner will be supported by the foundation piles, one of which you can see in the far right corner of the picture.

As I passed the parking lot, I took a picture ... nothing has changed.  The orange drum blockade is still in force!  No progress.

Orange Drum Blockade Continues
But ... On Wachusett, there is always more than the summit itself.  Turkeys, rabbits, deer, the sun rising from the sea, new friends, and many more are just a few of the experiences one might have.  Another favorite is the gently tapping of raindrops as they fall through the sky to strike the leaves and the ground below.  Turn up your speaker and listen to the beautiful sound of Mother Nature at her finest.  

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