Monday, June 28, 2010

Scenario Training Sat.&Sun. June 26&27, 2010

June 26 and 27, 2010
High 80's Mostly Clear
Two short showers on Sunday


ORMS had a very busy weekend with scenario training. Between the focus required for the scenario training, the hot weather and my being under the weather with the remnants of a cold I did not get many pictures. Both scenarios were excellent learning and skill development experiences. On Saturday we had a hypothetical teenage hiker 12 feet down a 3 foot wide crack which could only be exited upward. While climbing in the crack he had fallen and very badly hit the side of his head. The good news was he was lucid and ambulatory when we arrived. Later in the scenario he severely and fairly rapidly deteriorated to unconsciousness. Sunday's scenario involved a young man who had been heavily drinking while chopping down a tree when he accidentally amputated two fingers after which the tree fell on his leg causing a severe compound fracture.

The next picture is of Sunday's scenario.

Every once in a while you will find an old dead tree that will have had fresh bark lying at its trunk. This is most likely from a bear who was stripping away the bark in order to get at any insects that might be under the bark.

The remediation of the impacted summit area is continuing. Some new signage and barrier wire has gone up. Besides the obvious areas that have been marked for restoration please try and be particularly conscious of your actions any time you are visiting rock outcrop areas. These area are often both very sensitive to impacts and unique habitats.
There are many crevices that have sandy/gravel soils in them which have had stepping stones placed in them so that you can avoid stepping on the soil in hopes that the crevice vegetation that once was there will make a comeback.

There are many different varieties of moss that can seen along the trails. Some of it seemed very vibrant this weekend. I remember being on a remote but large and long series of slides in the Adirondacks between pitches we had to bushwhack through a small section of trees and moss clinging to the side of the vast 1,500 foot slide. The moss was particularly amazing because you would sink into it past your knees and it was such a dazzling vibrant green.

Friday, June 25, 2010



The Shenandoah National Park has started a Hike Smart PSAR (preventative search and rescue) program. It is modeled after successful Hike Smart programs in other National Parks.

Below is a quick picture of a bandanna I received from the PSAR Rangers. The text on this bandanna highlights the concepts that the PSAR program is trying to remind hikers of.

In The Center:


Above and Below the Circle:

It’s your responsibility

Around The Edges:

Proper Clothing/Footwear
Weather Forecast
Communication Device
Emergency Plan
First Aid Kit/Medications

As far as I can tell Shenandoah National Park does not have any Hike Smart information on their web site yet. I will post a link to it when it is available. In the meantime, Grand Canyon National Park's web site has a robust set of information related to its Hike Smart program. While the Grand Canyon site is tailored to its local conditions much of the information about hot weather hiking is applicable to Shenandoah National Park. One of the podcasts has good information for parents who will be out hiking in the heat with infants and toddlers. It can be found at:

Monday, June 21, 2010

SAT. & SUN. JUNE 19&20, 2010

JUNE 19&20, 2010

Click on picture than click on picture again for highest resolution.

Old Rag summit remediation. Please stay out of the vegation zones and walk on durable bare rock surfaces as much as possible. Many of the sandy soil filled crevices have had stepping stones placed in them so you can avoid crushing endangered summit plants.

Day Lilly (Hemerocalis fulva)

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhinia)

Wild Hydrangea(Hydrangea arborescens) with Long Hornbeetle (Stenocorus cinnamopterus)
be glad it is not the South American Long Horn Beetle (Titanus Giganteus)

Monday, June 14, 2010

SAT & SUN JUNE 12&13, 2010

Saturday and Sunday were both very hot. Saturday had a very intense thunderstorm.

Saturday's Lightning Storm
The Old Rag Mountain Stewards had been practicing natural anchors and rappeling but retreated to the Byrds Nest Shelter when they noticed approaching thunderstorms.

During the downpour, hiking groups streamed off the summit and into the Byrds Nest Shelter for protection from the intense but short downpour.

Two groups coming down the Saddle Trail said that they had felt shocks in their feet when lightning struck near them while they were up close to the summit. One hiker told the story of being blown off her feet and looking down to see smoke coming off her sneakers. No one got badly hurt but clearly the potential is there. Please take appropriate shelter when you see approaching thunderstorms. Get away from open high points until after the storm passes.

I periodically see hikers using umbrellas. During a thunderstorm these will act as personal lightning attractors.

Byrds Nest is protected by a couple of well grounded lightning rods.

On Sunday we had practiced bear bagging and tarps. During the tarp exercise we had to put up a tarp with an assumption that the simulated patient could not be moved. In the picture below this meant there was a tree in the way.

Thom and Kevin D and Ranger S Bair discussing some work that SNP needs done to the Byrds Nest Shelter. There is a good chance this work will end up turning into an Eagle Scout project.

On Sunday I only went as far as the first false summit and then hung out for there until early evening. Had there been an emergency it would have been relatively easy for me to respond from this location and I could keep an eye on the rock scramble between the first false summit R22 and the top of the Chute R30. Of course Byrds Nest Shelter, the top of the Chute, Skyline Wall and the Summit are all good spots from which Old Rag Stewards can fairly quickly respond to emergencies while providing passing hikers with PSAR(preventative search and rescue) advice and or Old rag interpretations. If you happen to see us at one of these locations we encourage you to ask us questions.
The first false summit can be a wonderful final destination for individuals that are not up to doing the complete hike. It has great 360 degree views. If the rest of Old Rag Mountain did not exist I believe the hike up and back to this spot would still be one of the favorite hikes in the park.

Fame Flower

Looking up towards Old Rag's lower summit from near Byrds Nest. The Saddle Trail passes over the slab in the middle of the picture.
Check out Silver Spring Wanderers blog for more information about two Sunday's ago and this Saturday on Old Rag this blog is particularly good about displaying and identifying flowers which is how I found out the pretty flower pictured above was called Fame Flower.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sat., National Trails Day & Sun. June 5&6, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010
National Trails Day and
Old Rag Summit Restoration

Sunday June 6, 2010 ORMS

The following pictures show PATC and NPS setting up their display tables at the Big Meadows Visitor Center for National Trails Day.

After helping with the PATC setup and making sure PATC had enough hike leaders and sweeps to man PATC's agenda of short hikes being offerred to park visitors. I went down to Old Rag so I could participate in SNP staff's presentation to ORMS on Old Rag Mountain.

ORMS members received a presentation about SNP's on-going Old Rag summit area protection and restoration efforts.
Some Background
You can think of mountains as islands in the sky. Because of elevation change and unique soil conditions mountain tops form micro-habitats that may support rare species of flora and fauna. The island effect can be particularly profound when the summit includes a rock outcrop since the rock outcrop often has very unique soil conditions. In some instances a rock outcrop may harbor an extremely rare species which has evolved and exists only on the rock outcrop. The National Park Service creates Rock Outcrop Management Plans(ROMP) for National Parks that have rock outcrops.
A two page factheet about the SNP's ROMP can be found at:
After many years of study, planning and public outreach the latest draft of the SNP ROMP (large fact based document) can be found at:
Rock outcrops are often also favorite hiking destinations.
ORMS was formed with a purpose of providing outreach, education and interpretation about Old Rag's rocks, plants and animals with the hope these efforts would limit human visitor impact on Old Rag.
The following pictures show ORMS members engaged with SNP staff members learning about on-going protection and restoration efforts on Old Rag Mountain.

Sunday, June 6, 2010
Sunday was very hot and I did a very long slow circuit. For pictures and a more detailed write up of conditions on the mountain on this day check out Silver Spring Wanderer's Old Rag post for this same day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Training, Bears, Summer, Rescue

Misty Saturday, May 29, 2010
Sunny Sunday, May 30, 2010
Mixed Monday, May 31, 2010


Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer

Mt Laurel and Fireflies

Saturday and Sunday were great ORMS days. Our Lead Steward Ben did a great job training on spinal injuries Saturday and natural anchors on Sunday. There was a good volume of hiker traffic on both days but all the hikers were able to stay reasonably whole and well.

We had numerous reports of bears in Weakley hollow and actually got to see one ourselves.


All the following pictures (except the one in the mist) were taken on Memorial day when I was doing a PATC Trail Patrol.

A shot from near Peola Mills on Memorial Day.

The classic shot from near the winery.

Around two weeks ago SNP trail workers did an incredible job at Bartenders Spring

I had a good conversation with Robert from PATC TP when we passed each other on the Ridge Trail.

Looking down on Etlan

The First False Summit On Monday

Mt. Laurel in Saturday's Mist

Mt. Laurel in Monday's sun.

I was feeling slow and lazy on Monday so I took about a two hour nap/rest bit under an aesthetic pine where I could periodically open an eye or ear to make sure things were going okay in the scramble. It was extremely pleasant basking in the sun and listening to the wind blowing.

After my long rest bit I started up to the summit. Not being in any particular hurry I spent about an hour moving up through the scramble. The mountain had really quieted down late in the afternoon. As evening was approaching I was approaching Skyline or PATC Wall when I ran into two sisters who were going down the Ridge Trail. They said they did not have lights and had never hiked the trail. Rather than continue the circuit I decide to join them on their trip down the mountain. The following picture is of them on the 1st False Summit as evening is approaching. It was fun hearing their stories about trips they had taken to the park when they were kids.

As we approached the upper lot the fireflies were putting on quite a display.
Fire and Rescues
It was a busy day for first responders on Monday. As I was approaching Sperryville I had fire trucks and volunteer fire fighters passing me from both directions. I was later to learn that there was a parked car near an SNP trail head which had caught fire and then caused a little bit of a brush fire. Then as I checked in at the Old Rag Contact Station I heard that there was an incident with an injured hiker in the Chute. By the time I was very far up the Ridge Trail Eagle 2 and the SNP Rangers were able to get the injured hiker off the mountain. Then the SAR team members who where hiking off the mountain on the Saddle Trail ended up helping a second hiker who was having great difficulty with the heat. Awesome smooth efficient job by the SNP SAR team.