Sunday, September 18, 2011

9/18-11 - At Last ... The Tower Rises

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
Henry David Thoreau  - Journal, November 11, 1854 

My good friend Mark and I both thought it would be late in the fall season, or perhaps even winter before the tower would be complete.  On this day, however, he evidence is quite strong; like trout in the milk, it will be sooner rather than later!

Returning from a two day outing to Mt. Monadnock off to the northwest, I could see the mountain as I came down Route 2.  "That sure looks like something new on the summit," I thought!  Could it be?  A closer look from Wachusett Pond at the base of the mountain told the truth.

Something New to the left of the Current Tower
Indeed, as I made a quick run to the summit, I could see from the new parking lot, that the tower is reaching the clouds.  Yet, I see no signs of a crane!  Not sure how this feat was accomplished.  The piece that I saw on the ground last weekend appears to be the topmost section of the tower.  And since it is a bit different than the bottom three cubical entities, I suspect that the tower cap will rest upon that.  Maybe that will happen next week.

If they are doing this with a helicopter, they could easily lift the cap from an offsite location, drop it gently on the tower, secure it in place,  consider it complete!  At least the primary structure.

Tower Reaching for the Sky
Big changes this week for sure.  But let us not forget to see how the base is looking.

The Ramp - Eastern Wall

The Northeast corner ...
 Finally, the facade has made its way all around the base.

Lest We Forget!
In memory of 9/11/01, a patriotic American left a reminder.

Northwest corner

Western Wall
Actually, it doesn't look as if the facade is much higher than last week although some rain may have slowed productivity.  Then again, thee facade now reaches completely around the circumference of the base, so there has been progress this week.

Southwest Corner.
With the tower having sprouted from the base lodge, I wondered about the roofing.  Perhaps the doorway is still open and I can have a look inside!

A Peek Inside the Box
 Well, as one of the rangers suggested to me several weeks ago, they would be dropping into the cement shell, a container holding electronic boxes and equipment.  Obviously, that tan box that is visible inside was not there last week ... and it didn't get through that doorway!  Helicopter drop!  The only possibility!

And that leads us to safely presume that the superstructure was lifted into place, section by section, by the means of a helicopter.  Wish I could have witnessed that one!

And while I could not get a shot low enough to seek sky light in the roof, the shadows clearly tell that story - the observation platform has not yet been poured - assuming that it will be cement.

Tubular beam attached to the in-ground Piles
Another Beam in place ... note bolts at the base
 Clearly, we can see a steel I-Beam which extends beyond our sight line to the right of the opening.  In the shot below, we can see that it is secured to the wall
Beam attached to interior wall
Detail - column secured to the pile
Southern Wall and Doorway
So, there has been significant activity at the summit this week, but what about the parking lots and the grounds about the summit.  

Lots of work here too!

View to the South from the Pond
This road will be accessible only to pedestrian traffic in the near future.

The Old Picnic Area - now Handicapped Parking
From Parking Lot looking as you would exit.
The road extension to the left goes only up to the handicapped parking lot - only about 25 yards toward the summit and on the right.
View from Parking Lot - Mt. House Trail on the Left
 But wait ... one more thing today....  What are all these people looking at?  Are they all here to look at the new tower construction?

What's in the sky that's so interesting?
Well ... it is September, time for the annual hawk migration sighting party on Wachusett!  Best seen after a high pressure front passes through, the hawks are seen migrating over Wachusett, one of the better known sites for this spectacle.  [click on the pictures and see them as big as possible, look for the black specs.]

The phenomenon that you see is the Broad Winged Hawk as they "kettle."  As the thermals are created the hawks gather in them at low levels (visible with the naked eye, below the clouds), and circle round and round, working the thermal and gathering altitude all the time.  More streak in from outside the thermal and before you know it, there can be hundreds of them.

Then, as they reach the highest point of the thermal, they peel off and head along their migratory journey, soaring for miles before they reach an altitude at which they need another thermal to carry them aloft again ... and another "kettle" forms.

 I was fortunate to ask a few questions of one of the birders that were on the mountain, and she explained all that we were seeing high overhead. 
Broad Winged Hawks form a Kettle. (right in the middle)
Kettle in Middle

Soon the tower in the background will be gone.  You cannot deny the fact that the trout is definitely in the milk.

See you next week!

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