Sunday, October 19, 2008

View of Whitewall Mountain from Zeacliff through the clouds, September 2008

This was the view from Zeacliff the morning I was heading over to Zeacliff Pond. The two photos below show what the view is like ion a clear afternoon but I like this view, too. I like the anticipation of waiting for the clouds to thin for a moment to see even this much. Sitting there at the outlook on Zeacliff is a pleasure after the steep mile-long hike from Zealand Falls Hut. This outlook was the only place you could come on a clear night, winter or summer, in the White Mountains and not see any lights from human habitation but that's not true anymore. Now lights from towns to the east and the north are plainly visible. I sat here one sunny afternoon in 1962 as a young kid serving my apprenticeship under Harry Levi, a wonderful man and a brilliant naturalist/botanist. He was a professor at Harvard and director of Harvard's famed Arnold Aboreteum. Harry had several areas of expertise but more than any other thing he knew birds. He was incredibly astute at identifying even rare birds just by their songs. So we were sitting on Zeacliff with a group of AMC members who were on one of my guided hikes and I was looking around using Harry's powerful binoculars. Suddenly I saw a huge bald eagle soaring over the summit of Whitewall a few miles away. Eagles were rare then in the Whites so I was very excited. "Look, look!" I was shouting. "There's a bald eagle!." Everyone dove for their binoculars and squinted off towards Whitewall. No one could see it. "It's right there," I kept saying pointing in the direction I saw the eagle. Just as suddenly as I had seen the eagle I heard Harry laughing. I put down the binoculars and he pointed out to me that what I had been looking at was a black fly a few yards away, directly in front of the binoculars. I never, ever heard the end of that.

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