Monday, October 5, 2009


ORMS is back on the mountain until the second weekend in November. The fledgling ORMS continues to grow, on Sunday we had nine Stewards on the mountain. On Saturday there had been a different group of volunteers patrolling. Two of Saturday's volunteers had stayed overnight in the backcountry. They started their patrols high on the mountain early Sunday morning. We can usually be identified by our signature orange tee shirts.


ORMS is short for Old Rag Mountain Stewards. Our primary mission is resource protection. ROCKS, PLANTS, ANIMALS. As part of our resource protection mission we provide visitor services including; education, outreach, information, interpretation, basic first aid, emergency first response, Park communications, and SAR services. Shenandoah National Park sponsored our creation as a preferred method of limiting visitor impact on the natural resources of Old Rag(Raggedy) Mountain. The Park picked the outdoor adventure/team building organizations of Teamlink/Shenandoah Mountain Guides to assist the Park establish the Old Rag Mountain Steward program. ORMS welcomes new volunteers.

A fact sheet on the program can be found at:

There are also links to both the ORMS's blog and Shenandoah Mountain Guides' blog in the My Blog List section of this blog.

I wanted to ask you to do one thing in connection with it.
In your own interest and in the interest of the Country. Keep this great wonder of nature as it now as.
Leave it as it is. You can not improve it. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.
What you can do is to keep it for your children, your childrens' children and for all who come after you.
-Theodore Roosevelt (An excerpt from a speech given at the Grand Canyon.)

The following picture shows a group of ORMS volunteers getting ready to split up so as to patrol up both sides of Old Rag mountain. We enjoy providing information and look forward to your questions.

Some interesting mushrooms sprouting from the large blowdown featured in the blog entries for the two weekends prior to this.
I saw lots of these fuzzy white caterpillars with black spike hairs on the way up the Ridge Trail switch backs. They are white American Dagger Moth Caterpillars.

The first false summit is a worthy destination all by itself.
The next four pictures were taken from various spots on the first false summit. I have a label in my label list which if click on will bring up many blog entries with pictures of or from the first false summit. The first false summit is an approximately 2.8 mile and 2,000 foot elevation gain hike from the lower parking lot. There are only two easy rock problems that need to be navigated to get to the first false summit. The harder rock problems do not occur until the official rock scramble starts at R22 when you leave the first false summit on the way up the Ridge Trail. The first false summit consists of a massive granite formation that sticks up a couple hundred feet on the Ridge Trail and has 360 degree views. If the rest of Old Rag did not exist this granite peak would still be one of the favorite hikes within the Park.
The picture below contains Old Rag Dogs. These dogs live in one of the homes at the base of the mountain. They come up on the mountain by themselves (go walk about) and know how to get home on their own. They sometimes randomly hook up with various hiking groups. Pets are not allowed with hikers on Old Rag but I think these can be considered local domesticated fauna. They can appear to be abandoned and in desperate condition when they are actually fine. Two are very friendly but one is very shy. Being outdoor dogs, do not be surprised if they have found a way to get a little dirty or smelly. Their owners care a lot about them. Their current tags have messages letting hikers know they can find their way home.

Looking East North East towards Etlan, Syria, Woodville.

Looking West towards Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail
Note: This panorama is stitched together from three shots. Most of my blog pictures offer higher resolution if you double click and use slider bar.

Looking SouthWest up the Ridge Trail.
Note: Stitched together vertically. Color change on the rock is an artifact from stitching two photos together.

Looking up the Ridge Trail from the first slab on the first false summit. If zoomed you can see some of the vultures that like to soar around Old Rag.

A very pretty cluster of pink flowers growing from a rock crevice high on the mountain. I believe that this is some type of wild Sedum AKA Stonecrop.

A hiker enjoying the view from one of the summit boulders.

Trees were mostly still green but there was a little more color than last weekend and many trees looked like they were on the verge of changing.

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