Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend 2011 Revenge Of The Nerds

Memorial  Day Weekend 2011
Sat. & Sun. & Mon
Camping near Byrds Nest Sat.& Sun.

Sorry folks but the following comment is an insiders comment.

I am told that when I rank lead steward weekends that I make them self conscious, hmmmm I wonder if that is good or bad?   Not sure but just in case:

All lead stewards training days are now ranked equally with the exception that the last one I attended will always be just slightly  ahead.    You guys will just have to learn to enjoy riding the bubble of ever higher training excellence expectations.    For outsiders just understand that this is already truly top level outdoors training.  Think as good and better than NOLS and Outward Bound.

I will affectionately remember this weekend as the revenge of the nerds weekend.   From delightful conversations concerning the philosophy of science and nature of intelligence to hiking public who could as a group  spontaneously recite the value of PI out past five places Old Rag was swarming with funny, friendly, effervescent, sparkling, nerds.

A line from our intellectually challenging conversations that will  always make  me laugh (at least internally) was:

"Well I am no expert but I have had some dining table education from my dad who......"  


Without giving too much away I  have just added the dad's most recent New York Times reviewed book to my Kindle.
Next video is sideways turn your head or computer.    At some point I will have the time to figure out how to turn the video right side up.  

The Stewards took some time late on Memorial Day to enjoy a Shenandoah swimming hole.

Memorial day weekend and it was a festival of learning Tech Rescue One and Tech Rescue Two skills.
While inspected by the Lead Steward anchors at the end of Tech Rescue Two are the creation of the students who then use their own anchors to rappel.

Stellar weather , the company of Stewards, learning new skills.  


Ho hum yet another day in paradise!

Sunrise over Old Rag from near Byrds Nest Shelter.

Looking down at the First False Summit in the late afternoon from near the Chute.

Looking down the Ridge from the summit in the very early morning.
More shots of the swimming hole.

Transitioning between worlds.

Home is where the heart is .

The 2011 Mountain Laurel blossoms have arrived.    Come and bask in their ephemeral glories.

A flutter or is it a kaleidoscope of Spice Bush and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.

Knots, knots, and more knots.   Tying the knot for life takes on a different meaning.

More swimming hole  fun.

Hey come on Bob snap that picture so I can drop in already.

Speaking of Nerds, Trebor Kool ask that I include the following:

On a personal level I have been told by  two people that if I can find the Trinity that they will be forever grateful.   Well I do not think I have ever had the opportunity to have someone forever grateful.  Especially from good folks whom I suspect forever will  be longer than just a lifetime.   So another new addition to my Kindle is C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.   I already had Einsteins God,  and Homo Evolutis in my reading Que.   I suspect that finding a deep belief in the Trinity is a spiritual and not an intellectual study.    Like listening to the wind talk to me there will be no words I can use to describe it but like learning to listen to the wind talk to me I think my time in nature will be critical to learning to just believe in the Trinity.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SAT&SUN May 21&22 2011 Navigation Climbing

Saturday and Sunday
May 21&22, 2011
Navigation and Rappelling and Climbing

A termite swarm exiting a trail side blow down.  Besides termites these blow downs are also home to massive colonies of carpenter ants.  When there are sawed ends near the trail look just below and sometimes you will see three to six inch conical mounds of sawdust from where the Carpenter Ants  have dropped pieces of wood removed during tunnel making and if your really lucky you will be there at a time when the pile is in the process of being made.

On Saturday we did a lot of work with various elements of navigation.

The Mountain Laurel were just on the verge of exploding with blossoms.

It was a wonderful day with record crowds of around 2,500.

A vision quest lands in Rio.

It was an absolutely awesome 10++ Day.    The weather was supposed to be rainy all day and yet turned out pretty nice.    The threat of rain meant there were not many visitors on the mountain.   We were able to spend a lot of time practicing anchors, rappelling, and yes climbing in the warm air on sun kissed granite. 

There seemed to be a conspiracy to get a lot of shots of me on my camera.   Here is one of me just before dropping in on rappel.

That's Liz high on her return climb after having rappelled in.

Here is new ORMSer Don on rappel.    If my back of the envelope calculation is correct as one of his life's accomplishments he potentially has well in excess of 10 Hours of free fall time.
Here is a shot of me climbing and Chad belaying way up on the right.     I did the three quarters of this route that was very easy (for Old Rag) slab climbing.   None-the less it made me think and required some shifting  balance movements.   It felt like vertical dancing on sun warmed rock.   One of those days that leaves you understanding why some drop out to do nothing but climb for days, weeks, months, years, maybe even decades.   Gravity games.

This is a shot of Don climbing up.   I always love it when you can look up at the boundary of the blue sky and rock to see bright white clouds floating by.

We came across a King Snake on the way out from our day on the mountain

Here I am doing some outreach and providing some information to inbound hiker/campers that were new to the area.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sat. & Sun. April 14&15, 2011

MAY14 & 15, 2011  


Lead Steward Ben discussing patient preparation, packaging and litter tie in.  Looks like this was one of our more somber moments.   Perhaps some day we will learn how to relax and enjoy each others company a little.

Rope em, tie em, brand em.    Well maybe we can do without the last item.

Where are Emily or Ann when you need them?
On Sunday I learned from Emily that this was Corydalis semipervirens or Pink Corydalis.   By the time I wrote the blog I had already forgotten the name but Emily must have sensed one of the Stewards needed a little identification help.    Before I could even get to my second edit rewrite (my writing process is more like sculpting where I slap up a big blob of ugly writing and then sculpt away with multiple rewrites) of this post she left a wonderful comment as to its name.    It would be cool if we could make super miniature clones of Emily to carry on our packs.   Maybe she will write a book some day.

Okay I got this next one Pink Lady Slippers.   Quite a cluster and I thought they were supposed to be rare.

I have heard that the Smokies used to have a lot of Lady Slippers which could be seen from the hiking trails but now the ones near the trails are practically completely gone.    Hikers picked or dug them up.      

The following is from the:

The New England Birdhouse Blog

It contains a lot of neat wildlife information and feeds.


Pink lady’s slipper is a wildflower in the orchid family. It grows 6 – 15″ tall with two large basal leaves at the base of the plant. It is easily identifiable because of its bulbous flower hanging at the top of a tall leafless stalk. It generally flowers between May and July, is pink to whitish-pink, and sometimes all white. Another common name for this plant is moccasin flower.

Like most orchids, the lady’s slipper is symbiotic as it has a mutually beneficial relationship with a fungus. The pink lady’s slipper uses a fungus in the soil to break open their seeds and to draw food and nutrients to its seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older, the fungus draws nutrients from the orchid’s roots. Pink lady’s slippers also require bees for pollination, luring them into the flower pouch through the front opening.

Pink lady’s slipper takes many years to mature, living twenty or more years. Pink lady’s slipper usually grows on a wet, acidic forest floor with mixed shade in the eastern United States. The plants should not be removed from the wild because of their rarity and the near impossibility of successfully transplanting and maintaining the plant. New plants are difficult to start because of the need for the symbiotic fungi and their particular growing conditions.

 Indian Squaw Root (Conopholis americana)

One of the Red Efts that grace Old Rag's woods.   The black circled red dots are very decorative.    These guys do not move very fast so be careful not to step on them.

A Painted Box Turtle who turned out to be very gregarious.   Quite a character.

We placed a lot of brush on a social trail that was really starting to get cut into the soil.

My consummate skill as a photographer LOL involves pointing and shooting a LOT then hoping that I get lucky once in a while.    

This next one was a very lucky catch.

Enlarge it so you can see the expressions.   Priceless!

As we were leaving the summit we could hear that there might be a carryout response being considered for another part of the park (NOT OLD RAG)   Old Rag was quiet and we were ending our day so we figured  if we hustled out we might be of assistance. 

While not every one's cup of tea the ORMS folks love a chance to participate in a wilderness injury response.   Exhausting work, tick and poison ivy filled woods, spider webs, obstacles like swift running mountain rivers, streams, steep rocky trails, brush, nettles, rocks, blow downs,  a possible snake or bees nest, nasty weather, darkness ....What could be more fun then to get intimately close with nature and bunch of other sweaty grimy folks all working closely together for the purpose of getting a non-ambulatory patient out and on their way to modern medical facilities.  Serious rewarding work.

Sure enough it turned out the response could use our help.   The litter was being carried downhill moving the patient to an ambulance waiting on the eastern boundary of the park.   It was relatively quick for us to get there and hike upward towards the downward travelling litter team.     As we hiked up to meet the downward bound team we were able to scout out and start planning for the stream crossings.
We met up with the downward bound litter team not too far from their first stream crossing and we were able to rig a taut static line across the stream to help folks either cross the stream or quickly set up for their next position in the stream in order to caterpillar the patient across.

After rigging several more stream crossings we arrived at the ambulance which was able to take the patient to a medical facility for treatment.     While not life threatening the injuries were very serious.   

Hoping, praying, wishing for the patient's successful speedy treatment and recovery.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sunday May 9, 2011

Sunday May 9, 2011
Mother's Day

Pictures now text to come.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sat. & Sun April 30 & May 1, 2011

Pictures for now text later.   Oh man, my writing backlog keeps building.   I will try and knock it all out this week.