Monday, June 29, 2009
Balmy with low clouds moderate number of visitors. No major incidents. The last week or so has seen a lot of Old Rag weed wacking done by the trail maintenance volunteers.
NO PETS ALLOWED ON OLD RAG
For more Park pet information see:
Summer Flowers Are Blooming
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Great day, great weather, great company lots of training done.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I have two daughters I am equally proud of Meghan and Sarah. One has a blog:
Great weather, seventies breezy with big cumulus clouds.
In the picture below, there are two different parties lead climbing on Old Rag Summit. Most of the climbs on Old Rag are of higher grades and leads can be pretty bold. It takes a lot of knowledge and effort to enjoyably climb on Old Rag. It would not be unusual for climbers to miss out on a large part of their climbing day just to hike in and find the start of their route.
You hiked uphill with lots of climbing gear for over an hour before you have even started your bushwhack.
You can hear the hissing of a rattlesnake in brush so thick you can not see your feet.
You just spent an hour bushwhacking trying to find the base of your climb.
It seems like every branch in the park is getting snarled on your pack.
Your exposed skin is branded by spots of red inflammation caused by stinging nettles, abrasive rock, swarming bugs.
Among these frustrations some crazy people in orange grabbed you aside to remind you about Leave No Trace.
AND YOU THINK
YA RIGHT! I JUST WANT TO BAG MY CLIMB AND GET AWAY FROM ALL THE BAD STUFF ON THIS MOUNTAIN AND IF I TRAMPLE A FEW STUPID WEEDS OR HAPPEN TO LEAVE AN EMPTY PLASTIC WATER BOTTLE THAT THE WIND BLEW OFF THE CLIFF TOUGH. THIS IS REAL SURVIVAL STUFF. REAL WILDERNESS IS SURVIVED NOT PROTECTED BUDDY!
(Note: My satire is over the top and there is actually some correctness within the above. The early settler who killed the rattlesnake in his back yard to protect his toddlers has my extreme respect. The person who was in a 747 crash in the wilderness and did normally unethical things to survive has my respect. If someone in your party just sustained a life threatening injury than your priorities must change. There are no black and white rules, it is all fluidly changing with hundreds of variables. You truly have the lead. The Bridge and the Conn(authority for ship's control) in Navy parlance. The person on scene who on a moment by moment must make the best judgement they can.)
BE A PROUD MAMMAL THAT NOT ONLY BOLDLY STRIVES AND SURVIVES BUT DOES IT WITH SOME STYLE AND CLASS BECAUSE YOU HAVE A BRAIN WHICH ALLOWS IT.
HYPOTHETICAL STYLE SCORES FOR A DAY IN VARIOUS OUTDOOR ORGANISMS' LIVES (IN MY OFF -THE-CUFF, TONGUE-IN-CHECK WAY):
NEWBIE HIKER WHO ALMOST DIED BUT WHO IN THE END DID OKAY (ALL THINGS CONSIDERED) 7.5.
(Despite: The fact they left accidental impact.)
RAVENS ON THEIR BAD STYLE DAYS 8.
(I have a huge soft spot for ravens.)
RATTLESNAKES (who just brutally killed the mouse) 7
(Note: This reflects my prejudice against death not so much the snake's style).
LEAD CLIMBERS WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE ON A GREAT DAY 9.1.
LEAD CLIMBER WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND ON A BAD STYLE DAY 1.5 .
MAMMALS IN GENERAL ON BAD SYLE DAYS 1.8
(oops upon appeal 5.5)
PLANTS ON BAD STYLE DAYS 8.5
GROSS PAIN INFLICTING NOTHING GOOD TO SAY FOR THEM STINKY BACTERIA 9.0
(After all how much control over style can a bacteria be scored on.)
SUBURBAN COMFORTABLE NEWBIE HIKER WHO PURPOSELY AND UNCARINGLY LITTERS 1.5
GOD (9.99...... ) out of 10
(Everyone can improve).RATTLESNAKES, RAVENS, EARLY SETTLERS AND HUMANS THAT ARE NEW TO THE OUTDOORS ARE JUDGED WITH DIFFERENT HANDICAPS THAN YOURS. I ALWAYS EXPECT MORE OF BOTH MYSELF AND CLIMBERS.
PLAN AHEAD BE PREPARED
BE SURE TO CLIP INTO YOURSELF
WHEN POSSIBLE APPLY GRACE, STYLE. CLASS
Old Rag is a precious climbing resource. For certain types of climbing it is the only resource within a few hours drive of mid-Atlantic climbers' homes. Obtain Betta, read up, talk to climbers who know the mountain well, scope out what Old Rag is about and carefully and thoughtfully use it for the reasons it is unique. If everyone pitches in the climbing experience on Old Rag will be much the same twenty years from now as it was twenty years ago.
Once understood and approached appropriately, the bad and survival stuff fades to obscurity and the precious and aesthetic stuff crescendos to the forefront of importance. For yourself and the rest of us celebrate life, boldly explore, protect your safety but go a step further and do it responsibly, cleanly and with style.
Note: A January 2009 blog entry has additional climbers advice.
Below are some Old Rag Mountain Stewards involved in some ascending training.
In my opinion our simple orange T Shirts are simultaneous emblems of EXTREME PRIDE and ABJECT HUMILITY (like any other symbols assumed by practitioners of responsible formal ethical systems.)
On this wonderous day a beautiful multi-spectral beatle was accidentlally fatally injured by the MOST caring of responsible stewards who was trying to celebrate its magnificence in a photograph for the world to share. In a flash of a moment before the accident I was conscious of the danger and did not warn fast enough.
Another steward concerned about pain versus quality of life took the beatle's life and ended its suffering.
On almost everyday I am on the mountain I am concious of things I did but should not have or at least could have done better. A branch unintentionally broken or a centipede accidentally stepped on.
Perfection strived for but life is messy, mistakes are made.
How do I judge my actions?????
Who am I to even judge actions?????
When do you turn off reflection and just live????
Even simple can be complicated????
DAO DE JING
ROAR IN CELEBRATION OF LIFE FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS !!!!
An idyllic June day at Byrds Nest
Double click on the picture and the rattlesnake is still very hard to see. From the end of the big sawn off log look down to the rock on the trail below and see if you can spot the Rattlesnake.
Lots of amazing nature.
While not pictured here we received an amazing amount of botanical/nature training. Living large on a wondrously great solstice/father's day.
Red Admiral Sitting On The Trail Near The Summit
Monday, June 15, 2009
It is starting to feel like summer. I did not get home to Woodbridge from an Annapolis wedding until 2AM in the morning so a nice SLOW (limited crowd) warm early summer day patrolling Old Rag was welcomed. There was still some Mountain Laurel blooms showing but I am sorry to report that I think they are past their peak for 2009. This year was a great year for Pinxters on Old Rag but not so much so for the Mountain Laurel.
This Sunday definitely felt like a hazy day of summer. Adding to the summer feel I saw too young ladies hiking Old Rag in sneakers and bikinis. (Do not try this without a good supply of bug repellent.) I think their boyfriends were carrying their 10 essentials and water.
My Shadow prepares for a day of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
Every kid should have a country road, woods, streams, mountains and pastures to grow up near.
When kids get a little bigger and know more about what they are doing they can graduate to more adventuresome country activities. At some point they become adults and we can only hope their continual and gradual training gives them the tools to responsibly handle the challenges and responsibilities of their adult lifes. Happy early Father's Day.
Looking back up rock scramble towards the first false summit.
Looking back at first false summit from just below the cave. Double click on this picture and look for the hiker in the green shirt. The trail actually goes up the other side of the false summit. I am not sure if this hiker was just exploring or lost. They eventually went back into the big crevice(hidden in this picture) which starts the rock scramble and then showed up coming up the trail.
The hiker in the picture below had just finished walking out to the end of the top of what I call Atlas rock and had jumped up and down on it declaring to his group he was trying to get it to finally slide off its mooring. Neither he nor his group were concerned. I on the other hand decided to stay out of the fall line.
I have known of some very large rocks that were precariously perched for thousands years which finally did actually come loose during my lifespan. (The Gendarme at Seneca Rocks W. VA which I and thousands of other rock climbers summited probably had a mass that was many times that of this rock and it stuck up 40 to 50 feet like a sentinel. It leaned slightly out over a cliff and was attached at its base by an uncomfortably small amount of rock. Local lore had it that someone who felt it a safety hazard had tried unsuccessfully in the 1950's to use explosives to get it to fall. It finally broke its moorings during the fall of 1987. Fortunately no climbers were on it or in its fall line. The climbers used to say you had not truly summited it until you balanced on its top with both arms lifted up and out to your sides like a cross. On windy days this balancing act was definitely the crux for acrophobic climbers like myself. For a picture of a climber on top of the Gendarme before it fell go to this page:www.panoramio.com/photo/7211613 )
As any hiker who has surmounted the challenge of the Chute will tell you this picture does not do it justice. Virtually no back ups at the Chute today.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Congratulations to Chad and Jeremy on their creatively conceived then boldly and cleanly executed classic FA and FFA (First Ascent and First Free Ascent). Many months of planning, dreaming and anticipating. Many days of climbing. Check out the blog entries on Shenandoah Mountain Guides titled A Long Way Around and Almost Alpine for a little bit of newly made climbing history.
EAGLE ONE INVOLVED IN DRAMATIC RESCUE
Check out the following huge news story:
Monday, June 8, 2009
(Double click pictures for higher resolution.)
HEY you got PATC Trail Patrol mixed up with my ORMS! No you got ORMS mixed up with my PATC Trail Patrol!
Because I went to PATC Trail Patrols pot luck dinner (great food and company) at the White Oak Rangers Cabin and then to the Big Meadows presentation by WindTalker and Mom about their new book, Solemates: Lessons On Life, Love & Marriage From The Appalachian Trail by Randy Motz and Georgia Harris it made sense to sleep about a quarter mile up and off the Weakley Hollow fire road Saturday night.
Dawn comes early these days and the birds had me up and eating my breakfast in the upper lot at around 6AM. Two parties came out on the Ridge Trail. They had gone up under moonlight around 2AM during the night so they could set up and take pictures of the sunrise. After breakfast I ambled down to the lower lot and provided visitor assistance until the rest of the gang showed up.
On the way up the Ridge Trail we met a man and his wife coming down. They had gone up the Ridge Trail to Old Rag summit. I had seen them in the upper lot while I was eating my breakfast. The gentleman told us that he has climbed Old Rag over a thousand times. While he has probably seen more than half his sunrises, I do not think I would try to race him up Old Rag. I hope he manages another thousand hikes on the mountain he obviously loves. He talked a little bit about the lyrics of Banjo Joe. I have not yet had the time to find renditions of Banjo Joe's music but I intend to. I may share some of the lyrics on a future blog.
Slips can happen to the most experienced hiker. Below the PATC Trail Patrol provides first aid to one of its members who took quite a slip just below the first false summit.
PATC Trail Patrol in the Rock Scramble.
At the end of the day bear crossing the Weakley Hollow fire road just before the three footbridges.
Lots of time, distance, nature, and cultural history information provided.
Pinxters were compeltely gone. The full Moon glowed through the balmy air. Mountain Laurel still not at peak but may be next week. Absolutely great fun filled weekend in the mountains.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Since 1993, the first Saturday of every June is known as National Trails Day, inspiring the public and trail enthusiasts nationwide to seek out, discover, learn about, and celebrate America's trail system. And this Saturday, June 6th, marks the 17th annual National Trails Day!
CHECK OUT THIS STELLAR MAP OF MANY OF THE BIG LONG TRAILS
As Trebor Kool one of our more illusory Old Rag Stewards sometimes explains to summiting hikers who look around and ask how to get to the Old Rag Summit they remember from their past? “Well that’s a little bit complicated, it is not far from where you are at the moment. While you can almost experience it from where you are, you will not be able to get to it again. As you travel on down the trail, please keep in mind that wherever you go to fully enjoy where you will be and LEAVE NO TRACE you were there.”
One of the ephemeral memorable moments on the trail.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Just as GLOWUORMS (the Global Worldwide Union of Old Rag Mountain Stewards) was pondering a strike, our shirts arrived and the need for the strike disappeared along with the morning mist. Now the hikers will be able to recognize us even from a distance.
Newts and other little creatures are often on the trail please be careful not to step on them. The newts often come out onto the trail during and after rain storms. Despite their beautiful color they are not as easy to spot as a Mountain Steward. On the other hand if your not seeing one of these guys good luck with the Copperheads and Rattlesnakes which sometimes (fairly rare but it does happen) cross our trails.
Of course the better you get at seeing these things the better you will get at seeing any visually obnoxious gag reflex inducing litter left by those who have not heard about Leave No Trace. We have a lot of newbies on this mountain please get up to speed on outdoor ethics.
Except on our shirts I did not see any Trilliums they have truly passed until 2010. The Pinxter/Mt Azela bloom was in its last waning. The Mt Laurel were in the earliest stages of their 2009 bloom. Speaking of waxing and waning we had around a half moon showing in the late afternoon and evening.
He is very quiet, not much for conversation. My shadow very seldom scares any wildlife away. He seems to only like to join me on fair weather daytime hikes and he is not fond of the noonday sun(he never carries enough water). My shadow has been known to join me on rare bright-moonlit hikes. Even though he appears to be deaf, dumb and blind he is an idiot savant at both playing monkey-see monkey-do and also at practicing perfect Leave No Trace ethics.
Shenandoah Sunset from near CCC Stairs. If your hiking party is seeing a scene similar to this one than each member should have a light and a backup light. That is unless you intend to bivouac over night and hopefully survive to see the sunrise.