Monday, July 25, 2011

Air You Can Wear Sat.&Sun July 23&24, 2007 Raccoon

Very hot humid and mostly still air.    Not many folks hiking.     Wonderful both days as usual.   The raccon in the video walked past myself and a hiker with only about eight feet of clearance.   We were on the first slab looking east just before the start of the rock scramble.     
Sound Bite credit Michael Murphey Carolina In The Pines

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday July 17, 2011 Old Rag tunnel/cave Rattlesnake

On Sunday July 17, 2011 there was a good sized Timber Rattlesnake  Crotalus horridus located in what some call the cave and some call the tunnel.      As you entered the cave from downhill there is a spot where you make a sharp right hand turn.   The snake was located on the far left on a rock shelf and was being very good about issuing a warning rattle whenever folks got within about 20 feet.    (I am not sure why there are funny alien sounding background noises with the video they did not exist in the wild.)   

I started getting reports about this snake over an hour before I got to it.    It stayed were it was for at least 2 to three hours and lots of hikers got the wonderful opportunity to see it and perhaps get some pictures.   I am really happy to say that there was no hiker mis-behaviour in regards to this  animal.

All of the Rattlesnakes I have seen close to the trails on Old Rag I have seen during the day and in every case they were good about alerting me to their presence with loud rattling.    All of the Copperheads I have seen near the trail on Old Rag (except a dead one on the road near the parking lot) I have seen between 18:00 and 24:00.   Copperheads can not warn you with a rattle. 

While it is unlikely that an adult human who has been envenomed will die it would not be unheard of to lose a digit, hand, or major functionality of a limb for the rest of your life.   Anti-venom is very expensive with a full course of treatment costing over $15K-$20K.   It is possible to receive a dry bite.   If one is bitten the best thing to do is move deliberately towards the closest emergency medical facility.   Do not run.  Try to keep your heart rate as low as possible while still minimizing your time to emergency medical facilities.  If extra hikers are available you can send runners out to the nearest place where they can contact the Park's emergency dispatcher.    Unless you have had specific training do not try "cutting and sucking" "tourniquets" or other first aid since there is a good chance anything you might do will cause more harm than good. 

Sometimes you need to gracefully enjoy life's ironies.   Like participating in a relationship with a wonderfully gifted  person who also has tragic flaws, snakes are just the way they are by nature's, the universe's  or God's design (depending on your leanings).   My sense is the best thing to do is skillfully stylistically, artfully, ethically commit to the tumult, flirt, dance, conversation, amble, ride, meal, performance, ... taking advantage and appreciating the fun fascinating good things while avoiding the curiously bad.    Witness, learn, play, celebrate what Nature, God, the Universe have provided.

The most dangerous risk for visitors to the park are tick bites that transmit a disease.    The natural reservoir from which ticks become infected are small mammals like mice, voles, chipmunks, squirrels.   To the extent that snakes can keep the small mammal population down it will lower the number of ticks which are carrying human diseases.     Except for the obvious situations where a snake is a clear danger to humans please do not hurt, harass, or bother them in anyway.     They lead a very tenuous life and even disturbing them could potential lead to a cascade of events that would cause their death.  


Just like the Catskills we have both Timber Rattlesnakes and Copperheads.   The following link has a lot of useful information but expect that any of the date related entries to be potentially different for our area.

Viginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:

PATC Trail Patrol
New Member Training
Glass House
Friday Night thur Sunday morning
July 15-17, 2011

Class room on the porch great weather and a full moon. 

Practice hike and scenario training,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summertime Drifting

Summertime Drifting
Saturday July 9, 2011

Yet another date with my good friends Old Rag and its denizens.    

Just a long slow hazy summertime drift.  

Had a very friendly Towhee fly inches past my left knee and land four feet ahead of me on a rock.   It did not say anything but it did stay there looking at me for about 20 seconds.   Reminded me of a Chickadee that followed me around one cold  sub-zero winter day in my early teens in the State Forest near my parents except that my Chickadee friend would sometimes land as close as a foot from my head and sang to me a lot.    I am sure it had something to do with the GORP I was sharing before I knew better.

My paternal grandfather had backyard birds that would feed out of his hands and on more than one cold winter he was willing to share his home, hearth, and some food with a field mouse of two.    

A lazy drifting day on Old Rag is hard to beat.

Credit to The Carpenters and Muppets for the Rainbow Connection sound byte.


Hey folks it is hot and steamy out.    Bring lots of water and it would not hurt to load up with electrolytes calcium, potassium, etc. before you start.    I am beginning to run into lots of folks with cramping and no water.    I can only carry so much extra water and maybe  a banana or two.   I do carry water treatment tablets but if you have already thrown away your one 16 once sports drink bottle (you should be carrying closer to 100 ounces not 16 ounces per person) then you will have nothing to fill and add my treatment tablet to when you get to an open water source.    You have also been the most RUDE of hikers by trashing what should be a pristine natural area.  

Start of Sarcasm:
By the way, blaming the Rangers(whom I think the world of) for not telling you how hard the hike would be or how much water you would need will probably only make me laugh, think you were not listening to the Ranger, or not  telling the truth.     I will probably ask if the Ranger forgot to put out matching socks or double tie your footware for you this morning?
End of Sarcasm: 

Putting sarcasm to the side for a moment, no person or organization is perfect and I always  carry complaints or suggestions back to the Rangers when I check in with them before my next hike day on the mountain. 



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July Weekend

Fourth Of July 2011 Weekend

The view from the first false summit of Old Rag.

Hours and hours of just relaxation.   Theme song for the day:

 I Just Dropped In  To See What Condition My Condition Was In, Kenny Rogers

Was able to watch some rappelling and ascending activities over the weekend.

This Silk Tree, Albizia julibrissin was really looking good.  

One amazing thing that happened over the weekend was that in order to get a Sharpie out of a pack I use I had to take my camera out of the pack first.    I set the camera down and then used the Sharpie and returned it to the pack but forgot to put the camera back in the pack.    By the time I realized what I had done I was about a mile away.    It was incredibly lucky for me that a hiking group had picked it up and we connected and they were able to return it to me.    THANKS GUYS YOU WERE AWESOME!