Monday, May 24, 2010

MAY 22&23, 2010

Dave and Saleena Devore have been providing great Wilderness First Aid and CPR training at PATC for years. They recently had the opportunity to build a new home in the country side just outside of Frederick Maryland. As founders, owners and operators of Emergency Response Training, LLC they took the opportunity to plan their new home so that it included a training facility in its lower level. Having this training facility makes it easier for them to provide a more robust two day Wilderness First Aid curriculum complete with lots of hands on practice and scenario training.

For those that have never heard of Wilderness First Aid it is different from First Aid which is taught with the assumption that an ambulance and than a modern medical facility are only minutes away. Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT are taught with the assumption that modern medical facilities will be hours if not days away.

Emergency Response Training, LLC can be reached via email at

These courses were first created to aid individuals who were travelling in remote areas but it has since become obvious that this same training is useful when a modern urban area looses access to good medical services after a large disaster such as a flood, earth quake, tidal wave, or major storm.

Lots of hands on practice.

An awesome scenario.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Black Rat Snakes and Mt Laurel

MAY 15&16 2010


!!! A RECORD!!!

Even though dogs are not allowed on either the Ridge Trail or the Saddle Trail I find myself reminding two to three parties of the rule every weekend. Almost all the trails in the SNP allow dogs but there are a few that do not. Check out SNP's web site's page titled PETS.

For some reason the Black Rat Snakes were out in large numbers on Saturday and members of our group saw three. I saw two of them, one on a tree and one on the trail. The snake in the tree was about four feet long and the one on the trail was at least five feet long. Other members of our team saw a third black snake in the Old Rag Shelter. Check out Silver Spring Wanderer's blog for a picture of the third black snake peeking its head out from the Old Rag Shelter rafters along with a whole bunch of other great pictures.

The second Black Rat Snake I saw started to cross the trail but thought better of it after sensing a large group of hikers approaching. I was able to point him out to about 50 passing hikers.

The Mountain Laurel were starting to bloom.

Saturday was a little bit warm and mostly sunny. Sunday was mostly cloudy and a little cooler.

Most pictures offer higher resolution if click on them. Click on the next one in order to better pick out hikers on the summit.

There were no significant problems on the Mountain so we got in lots of training on litter tie-ins and natural anchors.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It was a busy ORMS day with lots of training focused on fixed anchors. Weather was very windy and a little cool. Great hiking weather.

In my rush to get the next pictures I was not holding my camera steady.

Looking out west from a view spot just above the CCC Stairs on the Saddle Trail. Robertson Mountain is in the center of the picture and Hawksbill is on the left side of the horizon. Skyline drive runs along the horizon. Weakley Hollow is at your feet and White Oak Canyon and Corbin Hollow are behind the left and right ridge lines of Robertson Mountain.

The Mountain Azaleas (Pinxters) were out. If you are a fan of wildflowers you have to check out Silver Spring Wanderer's blog. I have a link to it on the right.

The Lady Slippers were out.

The next photo is of Bluets. Photo by Chad Heddleston author of the Shenandoah Mountain Guides whose blog is linked to the right.

A number of the ORMS Lead Stewards had recently participated in Eastern Mountain High Angle Rescue Training 2010 which is featured in a recent post on their blog which also has a link on the right.

The Shenandoah Mountain guides have been the creators of the ORMS program and provide copious amounts of training for ORMS:
  • First Aid
  • Rescue
  • Leave No Trace
  • Old Rag history/interpretation
  • Plant/rock/animal identification
  • Various other Steward skills

If you think you might be interested in participating in ORMS check out the Old Rag Mountain Steward blog which is linked on the right

This last picture is for the PATC Trail maintainers. It is a long small diameter tree lying parallel in the Saddle Trail about a third of a mile up from Old Rag Shelter.


One of my unique experiences on this hike was that about half way up the Saddle Trail I noticed a foot high cone of new sawdust on the trail just below the end of the sawn stump of an old three foot diameter blowdown. Being curious I stopped to look closer and realized that new sawdust was falling on top of the pile like snow flakes. Following the stream of falling sawdust I realized that it was coming from a steady stream of Carpenter Ants that where busy carrying the fresh sawdust pieces out of what must by a big nest they were building inside the old blowdown tree. It was fun to just stand there in the warm sun and watch their frenetic activity as every second several ants poked their heads out and dropped their load of sawdust and then disappeared back into the stump to pick up another load. I marveled at the unseen wonder of tunnels and cavities being built inside the trunk of the big old blowdown. I thought about the fact that during this last winter when I had padded by this snow covered tree in the serene muffled silence of what seemed like a lifeless world that safely nestled inside this tree trunk there existed a whole society of thousands of Carpenter Ants just waiting for the warmth of Spring to explode with activity.

I am inspired to read some of Edward O. Wilson's recent work on ants and group selection (a fairly controversial area of evolutionary science) or maybe one of his more recent books The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth and of course there is always his classic work Sociobiology: The New Synthesis not to mention Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge and others. While one of Wilsons books is high on my list they are below my desire to get the flower identification book recommended by Silver Spring Wanderer, Newcomb's Wildflower Guide or the PBS DVD I just ordered Appalachia: A History Of Mountains and People Time and Terrain. So much to do so little time.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Sunday, May 2, 2010

The following is a Tall Tale written by my backwards ego Trebor Kool. It is written in the spirit of mischievous fun and is not meant to be mean spirited or disrespectful. Especially since I consider Trebor a good friend. While it is a lighthearted blog the activity of hiking at Old Rag still needs to be approached with some sobriety. Good judgment, planning, consideration and respect for yourself, others and the resource are still very much needed. Very bad things can and have happened on and to Old Rag. Revel, recreate and enjoy but please be careful and considerate.

By Trebor Kool




First off I want to complain about the fact that my car’s GPS was at fault for taking me to some crazy non-Old Rag location. By the time I made it to the Old Rag International Parking Lot my 60 person hiking group had long ago left the bus and started up the mountain.

Of course since I had driven all the way from Suburbia-Ville wearing my best Sunday strolling cloths I was definitely going to do enough of the trek so I could get some pictures, buy the tee shirt and scratch Old Rag off my bucket list.

Since I had parked my own car, I was not going to engage the attendants with any questions in hopes I would not have to tip them. I still wanted to get a picture of me starting on my walk so I waited until the attendants were busy with other stuff and then got a passing hiker to snap a picture of me with my Venti Carmel, Chocolate, Hazelnut Latte with Whip and Nutmeg powder topping.

There was a white board mounted on the attendants’ shack which mentioned the possibility of thunder storms.


Not wanting to talk to the attendants I found out from a nearby hiker that they did not sell umbrellas. But the good news was I remembered that the weather report I had heard a couple of days earlier on San Francisco KFOG radio had said the whole Baltimore region was going to be sunny all weekend.

As I was starting up the trail I realized it was getting really hot and there was a ton of pollen in the air. I had left the house without taking my heart, diabetes, allergy or blood pressure meds. Worst because of the distraction of a slight hang-over I had left them all at home.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Is it turns out there are no water fountains on Old Rag so I could not have taken my meds anyway.


I finally made it up to something they call the old upper lot but which I have nicknamed Old Rag Base Camp. The bugs were getting way to annoying so I decided Old Rag Base Camp would need to be my highpoint for the day.

As I started my descent my new dress shoes were starting to dig a hole into the back of my heel. The return was a little desperate but I managed to limp back to Old Rag International Parking no worse for the wear.

During my trek I saw hundreds of people of different sizes and shapes and I am thinking somebody should write a field guide on Old Rag Primates someday.

Ben and Mark the friendly stewards I met when I got back to Old Rag International Parking

Back at Old Rag International Parking I met these great volunteers called Old Rag Mountain Stewards who were just a wealth of great information about how I could get better prepared in the event I ever come back to Old Rag.

I found out Shenandoah National Park has a great website with all kinds of useful information and they even have a great podcast about Old Rag. It turns out the attendants were really friendly Rangers who like to help for free. You do not need to pay for parking but there is a cost to enter the park. In addition I found out there are all kinds of other guides, books, maps, and Internet sites with information about Old Rag. Even better there are all kinds of clubs and commercial organizations that offer training.
While I think my next trips will be to one of the lodges up on Skyline Drive. I may decide to get better prepared and try for Old Rag's summit someday.
Two last things,
If you accidentally lock your keys in your car you are going to need to wait hours for a locksmith and there are no street lights at Old Rag International Parking.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday May 1, 2010 ORMS STARTS 2010 SEASON

Saturday, May 1, 2010 ORMS begins its season. The day was mostly sunny with the temperatures in the 80's. The Old Rag lot was filled to capacity. On this particular weekend there were some pesky biting flies and of course you always want to watch for ticks. While sitting near the summit I found it fascinating to watch all the bees busy going to and fro as they scrambled to harvest the wealth of pollen produced by the mountain's plants.

There is no indoor plumbing at the Old Rag contact station or anywhere else on Old Rag Mountain within the park. There are springs and streams low on the mountain and in the hollows but any open water in the park should be considered unsafe unless disinfected. Boiling, UV Light sterilizers, chemical treatment, and filtration are all methods that can be used to disinfect your water. There are many good sources on the web concerning water purification. Here is just one:

Advice About WATER From US (slightly altered)
During hot humid months each hiker should plan on needing to carry two to four quarts of water on an Old Rag day hike. Watch your "ins and outs". Drink enough so that urine frequency, clarity, and volume are normal. You are not drinking enough water if your urine is dark, small in quantity, or non-existent in the course of a day's hiking. In addition, eating adequate amounts of food will help you replace the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating.
During the summer months, your fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed two quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Do not wait until you start feeling thirsty to start replacing lost fluid. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Your body can absorb only about one quart of fluid per hour. Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water where it is easy to get to and drink small amounts often.

During weeks when seasonal variations can be observed I try to post a picture taken from the same spot each week just for comparison purposes.

The next picture has been zoomed a little just so you can see that the leaves on the trees along the ridge line have not fully developed yet. Down in the hollows the leaves are fully out and the understory bushes and brush are growing in. Some Azaleas were blooming .

There was a profusion of Bluets along the trail. The simple elegance and colors of this flower has always enchanted me.

The next picture shows some Violets that were growing tucked up under a boulder near Byrds Nest Shelter. At first I mistakenly identified them as Birds Foot Violets but then I learned from a fellow ORMSer who writes a great blog Silver Spring Wanderer (see link at right) that Birds Foot Violets have orange centers and these are most likely Common Blue Violets. She was nice enough to send links to pictures of both Birds Foot Violets:
and Common Blue Violets:
I am glad they at least look fairly similar and thrilled to have the chance to learn about discerning some of their differences. The more I learn about all the things I pass on my hikes the richer my experiences become.
This is also a good time to post a warning about my content. I try to do the best I can with the correctness or accuracy of the information in my posts but if you read or see something on my Blog that seems wrong there is a chance it is. Good or bad my Blog will reflect any lessons I learn along the way and there are orders of magnitude more than a Yotta raised to a Yotta (a very big number) of things I still need to learn.

ORMS has started its 2010 season. Here you see some stewards near the summit. You should be able to spot ORMS members by their orange shirts with the Trillium(Wake Robin) logo on the upper left chest. I have posted the link to the Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) web site on the right of the blog.

I found the abundance and the coloration of the seeds on this petite summit Maple tree to be wondrous.