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
- 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.