Monday, April 26, 2010

April 24 and 25 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
PATC Trail Patrol Training at Glasshouse

Map and compass skills training.
Trail Patrol routine procedures training.

Trail Patrol Leave-No-Trace training.

Trail patrol scenario training.

More Trail Patrol scenario training.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 Trail Patrol on Old Rag.
The forecast had called for rain but it turned out to be great weather. SNP was having a FEE FREE day. But because there had been rain forecast the parking lot only had about 30 cars in it and the mountain probably only had around 100 hikers on it this day. There were weekend winter days with deep snow that had more visitors.

A flutter of Swallowtails obtaining minerals from the mud. Not long after seeing these we walked through the middle of a different flutter(kaleidoscope, rabble, swarm, rainbow) of over a hundred yellow swallowtail butterflies that swirled all around us.

Looking up the Ridge Trail.

A PATC TP member providing a little bit of advice and interpretation to a couple of hikers.

The summit of Old Rag.
The Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) are back on the mountain next week.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS)
Spring 2010 Training
Partly Sunny Coolish Days Chilly Nights
Sat & Sun, April 17&18, 2010

Do not adjust your set, the following pictures are blurred on purpose.

During its regular season while ORMS is helping plants, animals, rocks, and hikers it also manages to fit in continuous training each and every day it is on the mountain. Despite all that on-the-job training, ORMS also has weekend training sessions that are dedicated to just training. These weekends are filled with highly focused training during the day with a little bit of good food, and socializing in the evening.

While we managed to have a little bit of fun on Saturday evening the days were packed with training for; wilderness first aid (WFA), Leave No Trace (LNT) and preventative search and rescue (PSAR).

The Shenandoah National Park(SNP) has been an absolutely wonderful sponsor and joint creator of our highly successful ORMS program. SNP graciously hosts our annual training sessions somewhere within the park each year. You may want to check out the rich history of the National Park Service at:

As always, the staff from Shenandoah Mountain Guides (the other joint creator and sponsor of ORMS) provided a phenomenal training weekend. If you or your organization ever need a professional program for; team development, environmental education, mountain sports and outdoor education, youth development, or backcountry guiding this highly professional and public spirited organization should be tops on your list. Their web-site can be found at:

While the staffs of ORMS's two sponsoring organizations all have a huge amount of baseline training, each staff member of these organizations also brings a wealth of personal experiences, knowledge and skills and a unique personality and style to their job. One of the advantages of volunteerng with ORMS is that you get to learn from this group of dedicated public servants and professional guides who in addition to their vast knowledge are also a bunch of great folks.

The next picture shows us getting to meet one of the many wonderful SNP Rangers. SNP's Law Enforcement group is the authority in charge of SAR activities within SNP. I have always enjoyed the time National Park employees (not all were rangers) have shared with me and the lessons they have taught me.

The BackCountry Management part of SNP is another group within SNP that is a major supporter of ORMS. Steve Bair who was instrumental in ORMS's formation as an alternative to Old Rag hiker restrictions came by and spoke to us during the weekend. I did not get a picture of him but if you click on the label called Rockfest in the labels list to the lower right you will see a picture of him and Wendy Cass doing a presentation to a lot of rock climbers who did volunteer work for SNP last year. In addition to those already mentioned and Bob, Bridgette, and Stacy many thanks to all of the SNP employees who made this weekend possible.

The following picture shows patient assessment training.

In the next picture you see the end result of an exercise in inclement weather patient packaging.

The next picture shows three stewards during scenario training which required the care of a serious leg injury.

As part of our Leave No Trace LNT training we broke into small groups and each group put together a short lesson demonstrating one of the seven LNT principals. Being a very creative group many of the lessons involved humorous skits.
In the next picture we see a simulated scenario where Splish Splash the simulated, cheerfully inebriated, singing hiker was both taking a bath and washing his cloths in the simulated mountain spring (blue tarp). In the skit an ORMS member arrived and helped educate the wayward hiker.
Most the hiking public might think something like this would never happen but dealing with large numbers of the general public ORMS members eventually run across very colorful characters from which ORMS' legends and sometimes tall tales are made.

In the next picture we see a skit of an LNT knowledgeable ORMS member discussing how to plan ahead and prepare for the Old Rag Hike with two novice hikers. In this skit the two novice hikers were anything but planned or prepared.
This skit was also a good example of what is called Preventative Search and Rescue or PSAR. SAR organizations would much rather prevent the need for a search or rescue and one of the tools used in PSAR is providing outdoor participants good advice before something bad happens.

During the middle of our training weekend the ORMS class got to assist with a real carryout.
A hiker had badly hurt her leg near Camp Rapidan and needed to be carried out.
In the next picture you see ORMS members unloading the liter from a SNP SAR vehicle which is parked at the intersection of a trail and a back country fire road.

The following pictures show the patient being carried out to the SNP SAR vehicle.

Finally the patient is loaded back into the SAR vehicle for transport to an ambulance located at the end of the fire road and then on to a front country medical facility.

Saturday, April 17, 2010



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010 Trilliums

Saturday, April 10, 2020
High 60's and Clear
Swallow Tails, Lilacs, Trillium

The trees are quickly developing their leaves.

Parking lot was full to capacity again so I paid the $10 to park in the neighbors lot. Parking in Shenandoah National Park's parking lot is free. What you pay the SNP for is entry into the park. If you already have a one week pass that is still active or if you have an annual pass to the park than you have already paid for entrance to the park. For more information on SNP Fees see:

When the SNP lot is full the neighbors will sometimes open their pasture for parking at the cost of $10 per car. With Old Rag's popularity it is good to bring enough cash to cover you in case you need to pay for both the boundary entry fee as well as parking in the neighbor's pasture.

There was some Civil War reenactment going on this weekend.

The Swallowtail were out and the Lilac's were blooming. Note the bilateral symmetry of the wing markings.

The Trillium were starting to bloom. The one below was a very pretty shade of creamy pink.

If you double click on the above picture you might be able to see the hiker.

Another Old Rag summit sunset.

The spring melt created some washout on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road so it is being repaired.

Friday, April 9, 2010




This is a rapidly evolving situation so I will post more information as I get it.

A lot of effort is going into helping this species reestablish itself in the park. This may be the only active nesting site for this species within the park this year so everyones' help with these efforts will be greatly appreciated.

There are many other rock climbing and bouldering areas on the Mountain that are still open. Refer to your guide books and online Beta sites. My blog has links to some of the online climbing resources for Old Rag. It would be good if you would pass the word along to your fellow climbers. If anyone has any questions please contact the park. Two of the SNP contact points that are closest to this situation are: Steve Bair, Backcountry, Wilderness and Trails Manager at or or Rolf Gubler, Park Biologist at

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Overcast mid 70's
Early Spring

The lower elevation trees are showing some green.

Another busy Saturday.

A new sign mounted in anticipation of closing the Upper Lot.
Lots of Bloodroot was blossoming

Spicebush was blooming.
I need help identifying this? I believe it is some type of stonecrop but I am not sure? Thaks to one of my friends, Emily from ORMS I learned that this is Epigaea repens or Trailing Arbutus. There was quite a bit of it blooming in the gravelly/sandy banks along one of the Ridge Trails switchbacks.
Overcast view from the rock scramble.

Looking towards Etlan and Woodville.

Ravens playing around the summit just before sunset.

Just after sunset.

Twilight approaches.
If you are seeing this than you should have headlamps. Headlamps leave your hands free and you are not at risk of dropping it out of reach or having it break. I like to use my light as little as possible. On some nights the moonlight is bright enough to walk out without a light. That said, once the venemous snakes are out, make sure you can see well enough so as to not accidentally step near or on one.

Friday, April 2, 2010


NOTE: There was a time when the above diseases where not recognized by the scientific or medical communities. Lymes was first recognized in 1975 and STARI was first recognized in the early 1990s.

I recommend that you use both Deet based insect repellent on your skin and permethrin treatments on your cloths and footware.

With the beginning of the spring season you need to start being extra cautious about ticks. If you have not gotten up to speed on ticks you should. There is lots of good information online including these sites:

Adult ticks which can carry disease are active during all months of the year. Of course it would be very rare to see one during winter but they can still be active.

It is the nymphs which will be emerging soon that are the most dangerous. They can be infectious and they are tiny and you may miss seeing one on your body during your tick check.

The larva are non-infectious because they have not had a chance to have a blood meal from an animal that is a carrier of the disease.

For obvious reasons the more blood meals a tick has had the higher the chance that it fed on an animal disease carrier.    While the adults are more likely to be infectious than the nymphs because they had to have at least two blood meals on their way to becoming adults.    The good news is that being much bigger than nymphs they are much easier to find during a tick check and if removed within 24 hours after attachment will not have transmitted any disease.

Infected persons will not always develop the classic bulls eye rash.  Sometimes it will be a more non-descript rash or no rash at all.  Be alert to the possibility that you contracted a tick borne illness anytime you become sick a few days after being out in the woods.

I repeat that I recommend that you use both Deet based insect repellent on your skin and permethrin treatments on your cloths and footware.