Monday, April 25, 2011

Sat&Sun April 23&24, 2011 Easter Weekend

Saturday and Sunday
April 23&24, 2011
Easter Weekend

The following picture is from the location near the winery that I have chosen to take pictures for the purposes of watching for the seasonal changes.   If you double click and enlarge this picture you will notice that the tree leaves are out in some places and not out in others.    Some of this is driven by elevation, exposure or soil conditions differences and some of it is driven by species differences.

The following is a picture of a lesson concerning early morning procedures.   Jeremy, Glen, Lizandra, Dwayne and myself were on this day.

The days lessons included training and practice on putting up various types of tarps as well as building fires.

I find that I have often learned best from my outdoor failures.   I failed miserably at making a fire but learned a heck of a lot and after making some minor equipment adjustments, practicing some more with my existing equipment and then with my new equipment I will be far more savvy at making a fire and will probably qualify as a strong intermediate fire maker.    The real experts can start with literally nothing in the way of matches, lighters, or carried tinder and still get a fire started by doing something like rubbing sticks together.    Getting to this expert level can take days of training and practice though.   For now I will settle for making sure I take good fire making supplies and train enough to be a strong intermediate fire starter.

On a personal development level it is sometimes healthy to have an ego crushing epic fail.   Reminds you that you always have a lot more to learn.   Builds character and you can never have too much of that.

The picture below is selfishly mostly for me.    It is a reminder of what will always be a very cherished memory of a fellow steward holding this object in front of their face, staring at it while turning it around in the air in order to see all its angles and then looking at me and with the most honest open mind quizzical look asking what is this?    Of course I could not see my own face but I know inside my brain I was reeling from an equally total sense of befuddlement over the meaning of the question.  A visual koan.  Seconds after this fest of mutual befuddlement, the light went on in the other stewards brain that it was a pen.   My befuddlement over what the steward meant asking "Whats this?"  turned to a conceptual understanding that they really had not realized it was a pen.    One of those random but very special moments that happens in life. 

I was thinking later that it is a shame that there was not a way to purposely cause and exploit that state of truly seeing an object with no prior preconceptions.   Once we surround an object with definitions we lose an ability to really see it.    I do not draw much but I have always been amazed that when I have had to draw something I "see" all kinds of things that I had looked at but not recognized.


Easter Sunday and the weather was wonderful.   Anita and I had originally been interested in a day on Old Rag but then realized we both needed additional rest.   Before either of us lost cell phone reception we were able to reach each other by cell phone to let each other know that we were both running really late but would meet at the Old Rag Contact Station AKA Old Rag International Parking and then decide what to do with the rest  of the day.    I arrived there at around 11AM and got to visit with the Contact Station staff and help direct traffic for a couple of hours until Anita arrived at around 1PM.     For me it was a very pleasant two hours.   

I spend a lot of time on Old Rag.    Out of 104 annual weekend days a year I spend over 70 on the mountain.   In the distant future when our society is so productive that we can afford to have 20% of our population working as full time research psychologists, I am sure my mental condition will be some sub-classification of a sub-classification of a sub-classification the definition of which will have earned someone their doctorate.    The good news is that I have no question that my Old Rag relationship is healthy.     I am old enough to have had my share of unhealthy crushes, limerances and obsessive love experiences and know that my relationship with my Old Rag mistress is not like any of those. 

If my strong feelings had a theme song it might be Glen Campbell's Gentle On My Mind.   Metaphorically I definitely keep my sleeping bag rolled up behind Old Rag's couch.

It was not always this way.    When I was first exposed to the mountain it felt like a  remote dangerous place full of adventure.  It almost felt like you might meet the Nazgul or Gandalf and Strider around the next corner.   

Now it is my weekend back yard complete with neighbors that I have known for years.    A comfortable relaxed place. A place for fun, exercise,  listening to the wind, enjoying nature and being a member of a small country community.   Even when totally alone at night in the worst of winter weather with wind blown ice crystals stinging my face Old Rag still feels like home.  But I digress.....

One of the benefits of having this level of familiarity is that the goal of doing "the hike" or seeing the summit is no longer first priority. Oh do not get me wrong the summit area is still a favorite place (especially at sunset) but I can spend two hours in the parking lot helping with parking, visitor instructions, and visiting with friends and do nothing more than that and life is still good, really good.

Anita arrived and we decided we did not have time for even a hike to Old Rag's first false summit.  I had wanted to check out the cliffs at Little Stony Man mountain so we decided to head up to Skyline Drive.    On Skyline we got to see a young bear just off the road sleeping in a tree.    

(If there was a song it would be probably be both a little upbeat and a little bluesy)

We finally got to the Little Stony Man parking lot and actually scored a parking  space.     Up the trail we headed.  We had thoughts of doing Little Stony Man, Bear Fence, Big Stony Man and then getting some good eats in Warrenton on our way home.

Well when your a Good Samaritan your plans often happily get changed.   About half way up Little Stony Man we ran into two wonderful women just a few days into an Appalachian Trail flip-flop hike.   Their trail names were Spicy and G. G. (Granola Girl).    They had dreamed and planed for years followed by several months of serious preparation and training and they left their northern mid-western homes to start what was planned to be several months on the trail together.   They had left Waynesboro a week or two earlier.   Unfortunately that impish little devil name Chaos that you see on the insurance commercials had jumped into their lives.   Spicy had very badly strained her knee near Big Meadows.    She was moving, (ambulating as we like to say in the response world) but every other step was  very painful and required immense amounts of will power to take.     I was wearing my Leave No Trace LNT trainers shirt and still had my name tag with the Red Cross, my name and information identifying me as a volunteer for NPS, PATC and ORMS.    I asked if she (Spicy) was all right?   Spicy immediately explained that she had badly twisted her knee and asked if I knew how she might connect up with a ride to Luray.

Sorry folks got to get to work.   Next writing installment to come and yes believe me I know I have a huge backlog of writing.   Not an excuse but just an explanation, lots of personal stuff requiring my attention lately.

1 comment:

  1. I see you photographed the old Page Valley Telegraph and Telephone cable... runs right down the AT. Some moron last year pulled it up not knowing that the thing was waaay older than the park and as such, an artifact.