Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sat. Trail Patrol Training Sunday Old Rag Patrol

Pictures now text  later

Cindy Kelly's photo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Columbus Day Weekend and Weekend After

While driving around and some of the hollows bordering SNP I took a picture of this well built stone wall.   It ran along the road for over a half mile.   No mortar but very square and well kept.

The three day Columbus Day weekend rained and rained and rained.  Louise and I managed to go for a few short walks around the cabin during spells when the rain slowed down to a drizzle.    For the rest of the time we sat on the big covered front porch enjoying the wild life, reading and conversation or were inside compulsively working on a 1,000 piece jig-saw puzzle that featured historic Virginia.    One of the delightful bird songs came after dusk from a Barred Owl doing his "Who who who cooks for you"

Fall colors are here for the next few weeks.

The weekend after Columbus Day I taught a Saturday introduction to LNT for the Mid-Atlantic Climbers during their Great Falls National Park adopt a Crag work day after which a ran out to the Vining Tract on the eastern border of the southern part of the SNP in order to have dinner and spend the night with PATC Trail Patrollers who had rented Mutton Top cottage for the weekend. 
On the way there I stopped at the Old Rag Parking lot to see if things were crazy busy(first weekend after the government shutdown ended).   I was surprised to find that it was not much busier than I would have expected for a nice mid-October Saturday.  (The parking lot was full with an additional 130 cars in the neighbors pasture.)    I arrived after the Rangers had left so answered questions from hikers arriving back in the parking lot after their circuit hike of Old Rag.   For about an hour I answered all the typical questions and helped with a separated party issue that resolved itself after about a half hour.   
Just as I was about to leave a couple who look a little befuddled were staring at the map on the back of the interpretive sign so I asked if they had a question.    The question was, "Where are we?  This is not where we parked.  This is where we wanted to park but could not find it"    I asked where they parked and they said they were not sure but it sounded something like "Sleepy Hollow".    I asked "Did you mean Berry Hollow" ?   Oh yes that is it.    I started to explain to them how to get to their car but realized it was already near sunset and close to getting dark so  I asked if they had lights?  The answer was no.   Not having any backpacks, looking fairly lightly dressed, and clearly not knowing what the ten essential systems were I figured it best that I drive them to their car on my way to Mutton Top Cabin.   They were a very nice couple in their early 60's and we had a good conversation on the way to their  car.   They said they had a great time and wanted to hike more.   I was not sure giving them advice as to how to go on other hikes would be the best thing I could do for them but it was clear to me they were going to most likely do more hiking regardless of how much I did or did not help them.    I used the 25 minute ride to try and give them basic outdoor-hiking pointers along with suggestions about how to find additional resources.    Sometimes but not always,  the best adventures are mis-adventures.

On Sunday I  hung out with the PATC Trail Patrollers until around noon then went to Old Rag to hike and do volunteer outreach


A cloudless sky so the sunset did not involve much color.   It is interesting to notice how far the place the sun drops below the horizon changes with the passage of the seasons.    I like to try to visualize the Sun being still and the giant ball called Earth that I am sitting on slowly rotating me away from the sun.    It was too cold on Sunday night for the frogs to engage in their chorus.   Perhaps it will be next summer until I hear them again.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hag Mouth Larvae or Monkey Slug

Hag Mouth Larvae or Monkey Slug

Phobetron pithecium

At some point in time a couple of months ago a visitor to Old Rag came up to the Contact Station in the parking lot and asked the Ranger and I if we knew what the following caterpillar was.

We did not.   I looked it up when I got  home and I thought I had posted it to my blog but had not.

The answer to his question was Hag Mouth Larvae or Monkey Slug and below is a picture of what it looked like:

All pictures from following link:


This is what the moth looks like:

Nature continues to amaze me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

LNT Fifty Shades Of Gray

Shades Of Grey
Safety Versus Preservation

Leave No Trace is not a system of rules but rather ethical guidelines.  What initially seems an egregious breaking of "rules" is not always so.

Scout Leaders Destroy Ancient Rock Formation In State Park

Ancient rock formation's destruction could draw charges against Utah men

Authorities in Utah are considering criminal charges against a group of men who gleefully shoved a boulder off its perch in a state park — and disturbed a rock formation that park officials say is 170 million years old.

The men, identified by The Salt Lake Tribune as Boy Scout leaders, recorded the antics, and cheered and high-fived after they toppled the rock. As one of the men was jostling the boulder loose, the cameraman sang a 1990 dance-party hit: “Wiggle it — just a little bit.”
The Tribute posted the video to YouTube:


Upon reading further down in the article it turns out that their underlying motive was that they thought it looked like it was about to fall over any moment and it presented a safety hazard.

Is mountain top mining appropriate?    Was hacking away a large portion of Six Grandfathers to create Mt Rushmore appropriate?    Was destruction of The Buddhas of Bamiwam appropriate?   Is any graffiti on rock appropriate?   How about pioneers names carved into the rock at Chimney rock is that appropriate.    What about Anastasi Petroglyphs should they be removed?

Mount Rushmore

The re-imagining of Mount Rushmore goes beyond disputes about, for instance, who should be considered the "real" founding fathers -- Mount Rushmore is located in the Black Hills, land that is sacred to a number of tribes. It's also land that, according to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was forever ceded control of to Native Americans only to be unilaterally abrogated by the US Government.

Is purposely causing  avalanches or trundeling  OK?



Unexploded shells used to trigger avalanches liter the landscape?

Park's bombs litter slopes
Yellowstone can’t say how many unexploded shells lie above Sylvan Pass, or how to find them.


 Should an image of Crazy Horse be carved out of a mountain?

Future of Crazy Horse Mountain

I will not pretend to know the answers but in my opinion this is why LNT is considered a frame work of ethical guidelines and not a set of rules or laws.    

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

One-On-One Training (September)

PATC Trail Patrol One-On-One Training
Note: This post is chronologically out of order it happened in September.
The following shot is of Joe C on his Trail Patrol One-On-One Trail Patrol Training day on Old Rag.   Joe will be a great addition because among many other things he is deeply involved in ham radio communications.

A week after his training this is a shot of Joe letting the park dispatcher know that a separated party incident was successfully resolved.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shut Down


Nature Gets A Vacation From The Hikers
  • A gorgeous Fall day and the Old Rag Lot is closed and EMPTY. 
  • Imagine that.
  • Air crisp and moderately cool.
  • Leaves changing color.
  • Walking Sticks soon to be seen near the ground.
  • Snakes migrating to hibernaculum.
  • Carpets of leaves covering the ground.
  • Not even one vehicle in the lot!
  • What alternate reality is this?

With SNP closed it was the perfect opportunity to tour the back roads that run up into the many hollows just outside of SNP.  I enjoyed the countryside vistas and the feel of early Fall 2013.   It allows me to explore and add pieces to the jigsaw puzzle of my mental map of the lands bordering the SNP.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sunday September 29, 2013 Backcountry Interpreters

Twenty minutes after I took this picture I met a Dad and his two daughters (estimated ages 4 and 7). It had become dark and they were hiking with headlamps.   They were coming up to have a late night dinner at Chez Old Rag Summit.   Their ceiling sparkled with stars including an absolutely gorgeous Big Dipper.   They would be serenaded by a wonderful symphony of tree frogs and other night wildlife voices.  The homely lights of Graves Mountain Lodge, Etlan, Culpepper and Madison glowed down in the valleys to the East.   Lights of distant cars would be seen moving high across the western horizons on Skyline Drive.  The American wilderness experience would shape the spirits of a new generation!  In wilderness is the preservation of our children!

A new generation of employees representing the long proud heritage of The National Park Service!    Sherri and Gwen (sp?)   I can not say enough good things about the wonderful salt of the earth NPS employees I have had the chance to interact with in the back-country of our National Parks.

Moms and Dads do not let your kids grow up to be politicians.

Note:  This was written at a time when the NPS was making sure no one was within National Wilderness Areas within their jurisdictions during the 2013 government shutdown.   Heard that technically folks could not even walk from Independence Ave. to Constitution Ave. across the lawn of the Capital Mall because the government says it is technically shut down.     Hmmm Constitution, Independence, the Peoples' Lawn, thought provoking?    I wonder what they are going to do about any climbers half way up the Nose Route in Yosemite, bivouacked on the Exum Ridge, or camping in the deep back country of Denali?  

When humans are involved things certainly can get complicated.   ;-).

End of humor and back to the simplicity of nature:
An excerpt from the Summer 2013 finale of Old Rag TV's Summit Sunsets.