Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 25, 2009 Memorial Day Weekend

Sunday, May 25, 2009 Memorial Day Weekend

Partial Clouds followed by rain followed by evening mist.

On the way to the trail head a neignborhood garden. The crowds were not too bad probably because of the weather.

Looking up the Rock Scramble from first false summit. A few sprinkles had just begun. North and east you could see heavy rain and south and west was clear. The rain finally engulfed the mountain though. It was warm enough that the rain was pleasant. Soaked kit and cloths added to the workout.

Double click on this picture and see if you can see the two hikers. One sitting and one standing. Hint it is way up by what is called the Chute.

In the early evening a Raven enjoys the view and sings a raucous ballad from atop Skyland Wall. Ravens entertained me with amazing displays of aerial prowess among towering cliffs while I was hiking high in the Tetons. Since then I have felt a deep connection with them. They are one of the most intelligent birds and have been known to enlist other species to hunt for them by vocalizing over the predators prey and then sharing in the meal after the predator has killed it. Sometimes their behavoir telegraphs the presence of hiking parties on the Ridge Trail. They engage in play both in the air and on the ground and they have been observed both playing catch me if you can with ground dwellers and sliding down steep snow slopes just for the fun of it. Sir Raven who is featured in an earlier blog flew within several feet of my head on numerous times when I was taking those pictures. Most amazingly while flying into a head-wind he flew at less than a walking pace past me at eye level and only four feet away. He then enagaged in a little bit of a game of peek-a-boo try-and-get-my-picture as he continued to tease me by landing just behind a big boulder between the two of us but flying behind the next boulder just before I could snap a picture. He finally allowed his picture to taken proud as can be which is why a called him Sir Raven.

The Mountain Laurel just showing the first signs of blooming in the switchbacks. The Trillium field has passed until next year although there were a few late bloomers.

On the summit and Saddle Trail the Pinxters still perfumed the air but they will soon be gone until next year. The good news is that as the Pinxters fade the Mountain Laurel will bloom.

Looking back at the summit in the early evening after the rain.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sun 5/17/09 Pinxters, Bears, and Chicken-Of-The-Woods

SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2009

Andy, Drew, Jake and myself patroled on Sunday. The numerous backcountry camping groups were being washed out into the parking lot by the evening's rain. Between the evening downpours and forecasts for more rain during the day the mountain was fairly empty on Sunday.

Patrol duties involved mostly anwering questions and picking up a little liter. There were no fire problems. medical incidents, or park violations. We set a line in the squeeze portion of the rock scramble in anticipation of alleviating future backups on upcoming croweded days.

Chad had patrolled solo on Saturday and was kept busy with dehydrated and seperated hikers.

The classic morning muster; equipment check, agenda planning and NPS morning meeting.

The friendly and knowledgable fee station staff, Mike and Diane.

A prolific profusion of Pinxters perfumed the woods. No Mountain Laurel blossoms yet.

A few more Lady Slippers spotted.

A newly built section of trail is pictured below. Three cheers for the maintainers.
There is an intricate web of relationships between SNP employees and various volunteer groups and or individual volunteers that keep the trails maintained. A large amount of the work is done under the direction of organizations like PATC who have been trained by NPS to take on the primary responsibility for maintaining certain trials. The PATC Blue and White crew discussed in an earlier blog is a great example of this. Some of the work is done by NPS seasonal employees who do these tasks during the summer. Some of the work is done by regular full time NPS employees.
It is my understanding that work pictured was planned, managed, and done by NPS Central District staff whose efforts were bolstered with the help of 6 PATC volunteers.
If you or an organization you belong to want to help build stuff while enjoying the out of doors check with the Park Service for opportunities to volunteer. If you are interested specifically in SNP Central District this blog has links at the top right part portion of this page as well as sprinkled through the text that are good places to find out more about volunteer opportunities.
Three Cheers to all those concientious hikers who not only practice Leave No Trace but also pitch in by picking up a little bit of litter that was not theirs during their visits.
Considering all the trafffic Old Rag has been relatively clean of litter so far this spring. Knock on wood.

I was elated to see my first two bears of 2009. They appeared to be siblings spending their first spring on their own. I only got a picture of one of them as it was fleeing deeper into the woods.

Weather shaped Pine on summit.

Looking down on Graves Mountain Resort area.

Hikers on false summit.

Chicken Of The Woods

Monday, May 11, 2009

SNP Wildflower Weekend and Sir Raven

Sunday, May 10, 2009 Mothers' Day and SNP Wildflower Weekend

Spectacular weather, not very crowded. We dispensed some advice, picked up some liter, had no major medical needs. Old Rag and her guests were treating each other gently on this wonderful Sunday.

For ORMS members the following link goes to part one of a five part video covering one individuals well thought out mid-sized first aid kit. It starts with about two minutes of a collage of music and photos of the authors outdoor experiences before getting into the actual tutorial. If you are going to only watch one part skip to Part 2. Between the five parts the tutorial takes over two and a half hours but there is a lot of good info in it.

Azelas and bluets were out. Trillium was out but may be waning. One of my favorites the Mt Laurel is still to come.

OLD RAG MOUNTAIN STEWARDS ORMS getting ready during our morning meeting before the days patrol.

BLUETS lined the trails.
At the top of the Ridge Trail switchbacks lots of Triliums.

Delicate Azaleas

Wild Germanium

All of the following shots are of the same Old Rag Raven who decided to show off and play in the wind around the summit rocks and my head for about fifteen minutes. He was quite a character.

Corvus Corax Principalis Northern or Common Raven

Take a bow Sir Raven many thanks for celebrating the days perfect flying weather with me.

Exit stage left.

A couple of hikers traversing the top of Skyline Wall.

Spectacular weather

Summit panaroma stitched together from several shots

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First ORMS 2009 Weekend Mushroom Weather

Sunday May 3, 2009 A very rainy, misty, weekend. On my way home the mist looked like grey white smoke. There were fewer hikers on the mountain this Sunday then were on the mountain on a rainy weekend in February. Probably less than 50 people hiked Old Rag today.

The lack of hikers gave us time to:

* Get a lot of botany lessons in.

* Learn more about the past history of the park.

* Visit some of the favorite backcountry camping spots.

* Pick up lots of litter.

* Work on the ongoing development of the Old Rag Mountain Steward(ORMS) program.

During the next couple of weeks the Lady Slippers will be blooming, the morels will have most likely passed and the Mountain Laurel buds will be preparing to blossom.


In many parts of the country Lady Slippers are either at risk, endangered or extinct. Old Rag is blessed with quite a few Lady Slippers and they should be blooming in the next couple of weeks.

Enjoy them in place.


There has been some evidence to indicate that each orchid is dependent not only on a fungus but on both the specific species of fungus and the specific strain of that species that exist in the soil where it grows. The slightest amount of change in soil chemistry can cause the fungus that the Lady Slipper is dependent on to die. Also Lady Slipper roots spread laterally and are extremely long and extremely brittle, and if any of the roots are broken in the process, the plant dies. It is virtually impossible to move the plant without breaking the roots. Hence successful transplanting is almost impossible. If by some miracle you can transplant the plant without breaking a root then it is almost a certainty that the fungus the plant is dependent on will die followed by the death of the plant.


Many mushrooms including false morels are toxic. Even though morels are fairly easy to identify make sure you know what you are doing. If you use a mesh bag (like an old onion bag) than any spores released during your search will be distributed around in the woods.