Thursday, May 31, 2012

National Trails Day 2012

The following link explains National Trails Day:

Today there are thousands of miles of wonderful trails due to the tremendous efforts of thousands of volunteers and volunteer organizations who would be happy to know that there work is enjoyed by millions of hiking newbies and old hands alike.

Great Videos about PATC and the early days of building the Appalachian Trail:

Pictures from sunrise Saturday thru sunrise Sunday text later.

The following lucky catch was taken from a Skyline Drive pull off very early Saturday morning.

The following picture is from the interior of Pinnacles Research Station which is a SNP facility predominately used by college researches who are in engaged in various studies of the the SNP's rocks, plants, and animals.
PATC sets up its stations outside the Byrds Visitor Center located at Big Meadows.

On National Trails Day PATC sponsored SNP visitors on around six different short hikes.    Beside being enjoyable unto themselves one of the goals of these hikes is to get newbies comfortable being more than 100 yards from their cars.   In the picture below you see a PATC volunteer doing a little bit of map reading skills training at Lewis Falls. 

Lewis Falls
The Appalachian Trail runs parrellel to and crosses Skyline Drive and its affiliated pull offs at many places within SNP.

A different hike and a different group but more map reading skills training.

Sunset from a Skyline Drive pull out on Saturday Night.

Sunday morning sunrise from a Skyline Drive pull out on the way to a day on Old Rag.

An interpretive sign about Old Rag on Skyline Drive

Another sunrise shot.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sat Sun Mon Memorial Day May 26,27,28, 2012





The numbers are there to help the park know how to quickly find you, the number and skills needed of incident response team members, as well as what types of equipment will be needed in the event a hiker has an injury.   If you need to report a hiker who needs help it is very helpful if you are prepared to let the park know the nearest R (for Ridge Trail) or S (for Saddle Trail) number and how far above or below the hiker is from the marker.  The are not even close to being evenly distributed.    On open trails they can be thousands of feet apart and then their are places in  the rock scramble where they can be only 100 to 200 feet apart.   

After all our rain the plants were looking really healthy.

The Mountain Laurel blossoms were still very pretty but you could start to see signs that it will soon be gone for 2012.


I am not sure why but the cold weather hikers are much better about both not trashing the mountain up and also about picking up and taking out trash that is not theirs.

Once the warm weather arrives things seem to go from almost pristine to sometimes looking like a garbage dump in places!    By the way folks just because you throw something off a high cliff it does not mean it will not be seen.   Climbers and other backcountry visitors will see your trash sooner or later.  If you pack it in pack it out.   If you have some room and feel like a good samaritan take some trash out that is not yours.   Be polite and respectful but spread the word.


Of late I have had numerous hikers complain to me that the mountain is becoming disgusting to hike becasue of all the trash along the trail.  Folks nobody likes to see your old Orange peels, toilet paper, water bottles, egg shells, nut shells, power bar wrappers or anything else.   Whether you are a new hiker or old experienced pro please make sure you learn appropriate outdoor ethics and practice them.

Leave No Trace Link:

Looking back on the First False Summit from near the cave.

A large Mt Laurel in bloom on the summit.


Another great sunset from the summit.   Make sure you have a good headlamp and a backup headlamp if you are going to hiking in the dark.



I almost never see Copperheads during the day but I see them on or next to the trail a lot during the night.   They are nothing to worry about as long as you do not step on or near them.  Please make sure you have a good light and that you never place your hands or feet near or under anything that you have not visually checked to make sure there is not a venomous snake that might fear bite.

On my walk out in the dark I saw two Copperheads of almost exactly equal size just 200 feet apart on the road to the parking lot.   The first one scurried off into the grass before I could get my camera out but I did get these two shots of the second one.    If you keep your distance they are a wonderful part of nature to be lucky enough to come across.    Please do not disturb or hurt them.    They keep the rodent population down which in turn helps keeps the infectious tick population down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sat&Sun May 19&20, 2012 Old Rag Cottage

There are many commercially available houses, cottages, bed & breakfasts, hotel rooms, cabins and hostels available within a short drive of Shenandoah Natioal Park.    The one pictured below is within a mile of the Lower White Oak Canyon parking lot.

Jason S is one of the Rangers who is at the Old Rag Boundary Station this year.

Bluetts were plentiful especially along the Saddle Trail.
The Mountain Laurel was at its peak.

There are many trails on which hikers can no longer see Lady Slippers from the trail because hiker picked or tried to poach them.    We are very fortunate to stilll be able to see this rare flower from Old Rag's trails.  Please do not disturb any Lady Slippers you see in the future so that  future generations will be able to enjoy them!!!

My friend Louise was visiting from Texas.

We were blessed with a one of Old Rag's often wonderful sunsets.

The lights of Culpepper can be seen in the distance from one corner of the summit of Old Rag.

Not only does this cute little tree frog blend in to the bark of trees but his coloration blends pretty well with Old Rag Granite as well. 

If you are lucky you will get to see one of Shenandoah National Parks Black Bears.   If you are camping or having picnics in Shenandoah National Park you should read up and be smart about bear bags and protecting your food.    Bears that learn about human food are bound to become problem bears that may eventually need to be put down.  

The following link offers good information about North American bears:

 Ursus americanus


Louise Casey Clukey Louis Casey Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey

Louise Casey Clukey Louis Casey Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey

Louise Casey Clukey Louis Casey Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey

Louise Casey Clukey Louis Casey Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey Louise Casey-Clukey

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sat-Tue May 12-15,2012 VINING CABIN

The Vining Cabin is one of many (40 plus) cabins available for rent by either the public or members of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). 

These cabins are made available at very low cost because of the tremendous generosity of prior owners and the on-going mostly volunteer stewardship of PATC volunteers.   For more information about PATC visit their website located at:

What is now referred to as the Vining Cabin is part of what was called the Mutton Hollow Farm and it adjoins a large 600 plus acre tract of land and cabins that was generously donated by Dr. Vining and his family.    For those who enjoy adventure and joy of of discovering special deeply historic connections you will be interested in knowing that there is a bath tub which was used by Winston Churchill,  Bertrand Russell, W H Auden and many many other famous people which is available for the common man to take an open air bath or use to chill his beer under the canopy of the seemingly timelessness of the ancient mid-Atlantic woods the following two links provide first and insight to the aesthetic nature of staying at a primitive PATC cabin and then a view of a the bathtub once used by many famous people:

The following is a good blog posting about someone's stay at  the PATC Morris Cabin which is one of the cabins located on what PATC calls the Vining Tract:

The following link is to a good video about PATC's  Mutton Top Cabin which is also on the Vining Tract:


The following link brings up a picture of the Churchill Tub in the woods near the Morris Cabin:

Dr. Vining who was a professor at UVA found out that he could obtain some recycled bathtubs from the faculty club which had hosted many many very famous people and it just so happens that a tub which was used by lots of famous people who had visited UVA was headed for the dump.   Well one of those tubs which had hosted and comforted many famous peoples naked bodies is now located out in the open air of the Appalachian woods on the Vining Tract.    WHO WOULD HAVE EVER GUESSED?!   How many unassuming trails have hosted the intimate presence of prior dignitaries of today's or prior worlds!?


As written up in the PATC newsletter, The Potomac Appalachian of January 2004
ATC has leased the 675-acre Daniel

Vining family farm located in Greene
County, Va. The farm, previously owned by
Daniel Vining’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Rutledge
Vining, adjoins PATC’s Vining Tract, which
was obtained by purchase and grant from the
Vinings in the early 1980s. It is a classic example
of a 19th century Appalachian farm containing
a log cabin, numerous barns and other
out-buildings, and pastures surrounded by
stone and rail fences. The farm is located at the
end of Mattie’s Run Road (State Rte. 635) in a
valley at the bases of High Top and Daniels
Mountains (PATC Map 11). Known as the
Mutton Hollow Farm, it consists of extensive
pasture land bisected by Mattie’s Run and is
surrounded by rapidly rising forested hillsides
that ascend nearly 1,000 feet to where the property
adjoins PATC’s Vining Trail
Cabin Will Enter System Soon

With the lease, PATC members gain access to
the entire property for hiking and the cabin,
which will enter the rental system once minor
repairs are completed. The cabin consists of
the original chestnut log structure, estimated
to be more than 100 years old, and a stone
addition constructed by Dr. Vining. The first
floor of the cabin contains two large sitting
rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A large
bedroom is above the sitting room in the log
portion of the house. Well water is pumped
into the house to a toilet, shower, and bathroom
and kitchen sinks. The cabin also has
electricity for hot water, cooking, lights, and
baseboard heat. Fireplaces in both sitting
rooms provide additional heating. The cabin
will sleep six people.
The farm contains many roads and trails that
will provide opportunities for hiking and
exploring the area. Several of the trails extend
to existing trails on PATC’s Vining Tract and
to the Goose Pond/CCC Road that bisects the
Vining Tract. Once the trails are reopened,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sat&Sun May 4&5, 2012

Saturday & Sunday May 4, 2012

I provided one-on-one training for Harry N.  a new member of PATC Trail Patrol.

There was a very large example of Chicken Of The Woods along the Ridge Trail.

A yellow Lady Slipper Cypripedium parviflorum

The Mountain Laurel  Kalmia latifolia were blooming.

A Pink Lady Slipper  Cypripedium acaule

Sunday was one of those days when the mist often looked liked wafting smoke and parts of Old Rag kept appearing and disappearing behind the veil of the floating mist. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sundays April 22&29, 2012

Sundays, April 22&29, 2012

Rainy 22nd but nice 29th

Country Roads

I had to attend the 30th Annual Bankruptcy Institute's  conference at  National Harbor Thursday thru Saturday.  My professional job involves working for the Bankruptcy Noticing Center which is responsible for sending a large majority of  the US Bankruptcy Courts' bankruptcy approximate 500,000 daily bankruptcy notices  so I was not able to hike on Saturday.    Sunday was very rainy and I was tired from having had a very hectic and busy time during the week so I did not get to Old Rag until 3PM.    Because of the rain there were only about 5 cars in the Old Rag parking lot and I just was not in the mood for hiking so I spent about 3 hours just exploring country roads bordering Shenandoah National Park.   I always have fun doing this because it gives me a chance to explore a lot of hollows by driving up single lane dirt roads until they dead end.

A  view of Old Rag while heading south to get to some areas bordering SNP where I had not  explored all the back roads.

A roadside Iris.

A Dogwood in bloom.

Two short videos of one of the larger bucolic country roads I explored.

Sunday April 29, 2012 FLOWERS! and BLOWDOWN


Poison Ivy
Leaves of three leave it be!

Wild Azaleas Pinxters
Next three pictures.

Meadow Rue
Silver Spring Wanderer was very kind to help with identification.   You can learn a lot about wilderness flowers by following her blog.    It is listed in my blog list to the right.

My first 2012 sighting of Wild Geranium

Lots of Trilliums were still blooming.

Blueberry (identification by Silver Spring Wanderer)

Sunset from the summit of Old Rag

A huge blowdown that fell lengthwise down the Saddle Trail.

Another shot of the sunset from Old Rag summit.

Walking out in the dark my headlamp came across a flutter of moths sucking up minerals from the trail.    It took me awhile to get my camera out and by the time I got the shot about 70% of the moths that had been in the flutter had flown away.