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“A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.” – Earl Hamner, Jr.

A polar vortex brought record cold temperatures and heavy snow to New Hampshire for the final week of 2013. On my drive up to the White Mountains, I heard a funny interview with Andrew Freedman, senior science writer for the nonprofit Climate Central explaining a polar vortex on NPR:

“Well it’s so cold because we have this polar air, this polar vortex, which is this area of low pressure and fast-moving winds over the Arctic that normally stays pretty friendly and up over Canada. Friendly to the U.S., at least. This is air that is circulating the Arctic. And in the last couple of days, it’s sort of become lopsided, sort of like a figure skater that has extended their arms, and then tripped. You know, when a figure skater pulls their arms in, they spin tighter and tighter and faster and faster. But when they put their arms out, they are a little bit slower and a little bit more wobbly and more prone to fall or stop skating at the end of their routine. And what’s happening now is that a piece of it is down on the other side of the globe, and a piece of it kind of got lopsided and came down on top of us. It just is a weather pattern that we don’t see very often.”

I love that analogy of a wobbly weather pattern. πŸ™‚ But I picked one of the coldest days of the year to attempt to summit Mount Washington. My goal was to reach 6,288 feet, the Northeast’s highest peak, but a temperature of -6 degrees Fahrenheit, wind of 96 mph, and falling snow slowed my progress. I reached 4,600 feet, just over the tree line and spent six beautiful, cold hours on the mountain. The winter sky was the most rich, deep, breathtaking Sapphire blue I have ever seen.

I hope you’ll plan a visit to http://www.mountwashington.org/ (Dress warmly!)

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