Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday August 28, 2011 Day After Irene Several After Earthquake

Sunday August 28, 2011
Day After Irene Several Days After Earthquake

Wonderful weather, folks having fun, no sign of rock movement from earthquake, four blowdowns from hurricane Irene, some good interpretation done, two pieces of cut lumber moved to Byrds Nest, Sparkles my raccoon friend tried to sneak up behind me while I was pre-occupied shooting sunset pictures,  a bat either counting coop or trying to dance with me near the Tree-With-Three-Trunks and the Twelve-Foot-Stump  (Actually flew up and almost touched my face before making pass two where it  lightly brushed my chin before flying away.  I wonder if the music on my Beats headphones worn around my neck had anything to do with it, (Not on my ears so I can still hear voices and nature's sounds.), super wonderful solitary evening on the Ridge Trail/rock scrambles.

These delicate Spicebush Swallowtails made it through Irene.   

How do they do that and how many did not make it? 

The more I experience nature the more I wonder with awe.  

ADDENDUM  Wednesday September 21. 2011

If you check the comments section for this post you will find that a naturalist that lives near Old Rag (David C.) has corrected my identification of these  butterflies.    They are not Spicebush Swallowtails but rather Red-Spotted Purples one of several species that mimic Spicebush Swallowtails because Spicebush Swallowtails are toxic/distasteful to butterfly predators.   It is awesome all the great stuff I keep learning about Old Rag and its denizens.

The following are some great links for learning more about Spicebush Swallowtails and species who mimic them.

about Spicebush Swallowtail:

about Pipevine Swallowtail and both Batesian and Mullerian mimicry:

about Red-Spotted Purples:

Sunset video not chronologically in order. 

First two pieces of cut lumber muled from Old Rag Shelter to Byrds Nest Shelter.   The biggest projects can start with the smallest steps.   

Sparkles my raccoon friend visited on the summit but was disappointed that I never left my pack unguarded.
Another Old Rag Sunset

For me it was a wonderful solitary trip down the Ridge Trail and rock scramble under headlamp.    There is something intoxicating about knowing you can comfortably and competently range deep in the back country, in all kinds of conditions, completely by yourself.   For those who were not aware the NPS actually considers solitude a resource that needs to be protected for current and future generatiosns.

I just recently read a great article about how the cell phone and connectiveness is destroying many young adults opportunities to grow through solitude.   The following is a link:

Even though the drive on a busy highway is far more dangerous for me than being alone in the backcountry... it is not as safe as having a friend who can help in the event of some random unlucky bad event.  Mowing your lawn, reading a novel, first responding, swimming, driving your car, rock climbing they all have risk reward equations.    

The air was warm and balmy low 70's.  Breezes were blowing.  The frogs and other night life were singing.    The city and country lights in the valley looking towards Culpepper were twinkling wonderfully.    Music that gives flight to the soul.   Life is blessed. 

The next picture was taken from the first false summit just before R22.

All the tenuously perched rocks I examined (around 10) did not seem to have moved one iota.   I even looked for small rock crumbles/rock dust around edges of large many multiple ton rocks that rest on small steeply sloped granite-to-granite contact zones.   I did not see any new cracks or fissures and the old cracks and fissures all seemed to be of the same width.

Double click pictures for higher resolution.

Blowdown one just 100 yards down from PO junction completely across Weakley Hollow fire road.
Blowdowns two and three just 400 yards up the Saddle Trail from Old Rag Shelter.

Blowdown four was the coolest one for me.   At the end of the switchbacks on the Ridge Trail just before the location of the Trillium field there was a boulder and large widow maker that marked a little side trail to the last good camping spot on the Ridge Trail before the NO Camping zone.   



  1. Hey Bob, it's Mark from ORMS. I examined everything around the tree very carefully. I noticed that it took down a small 1 inch diameter tree. That tree was wilted quite a bit. The leaves and branches all around were not visibly wilted. According to Chad, (via one of the Rangers at the fee station) a large tree was down on Friday. I went up and back on the ridge trail Sunday, so I was not sure if this was the tree he was talking about. Since you described other things in such a detailed fashion, it seems like this was the tree that Chad was talking about.

    As far as I can tell, you are correct about all the rocks and cracks.

    Thanks for another great post!

  2. Bob,

    I enjoy your blog. I wanted to point out that the "spicebush swallowtails" in your recent post are actually red-spotted purples. This species, along with the spicebush swallowtail and 4 other species, mimic the pipevine swallowtail, which is why they look alike. An easy way to identify the red-spotted purple is that is has no "swallowtail," no long tapering tail.