Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 Late Fall approaching Winter

Late Fall

Approaching Winter

Low Somber Sun

Long Mid-Day Shadows

Note: This post covers several weekends patrols

Old Rag from the east.

Old Rag from the west.

Lamas on patrol in the park.

Jody and Bill B.  on the day of their PATC Trail Patrol One-On-One Training.

Christmas lights.

Ice on the mountain think about your microspikes.

Twilight One Think About Your Headlamps.

Twilight Two


Strong wood smoke wafting out of the woods.    Cluster of tents set up along Brokenback Run.   Not a campfire but a BioLite woodstove being used to grill a large number of steak medallions for a troop of about 10 scouts and their adult leaders.   I was offered a wonderful nosh of steak....Y U M M  Y   D E L I C I O U S!   Had great conversation about ghosts of past present and future and a hundred other things with Dow, the adult scout leader and undertaker from Luray.   (Both a small world and a small town world as it turned out Dow had grown up with Andy Nichols)  The young men  were going to be climbing Old Rag the next day and I asked if it was a first time for any of them.   Two of the young men who some might mistake for older boys raised their hands so I told them how lucky I thought they were.  I always get a huge positive charge of joy whenever I see visitors "catching the Old Rag bug".   Every once in-awhile, when I am in a contemplative mood and my wandering mind starts reflecting on this feeling of joy my curious mind attempts to start to try and categorize, analyze, deconstruct this mysterious joy.   So far, I have always quickly stopped my ponderings in order to just let the feeling be felt.


The following song harmonizes with some of the feelings evoked by my late Fall Trail Patrols.   A lyrical cynicism diluted, vanquished, and washed away by a deep powerful melody. This song's emotions awaken, evoke, weave around, and edify emotions from my Old Rag patrols.   Profound feelings of love for nature and good will towards its species sometimes called man-kind.

Randy Newman

I Think It's Going To Rain Today

Broken windows and empty hallways
A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
With frozen smiles to chase love away
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Lonely, lonely
Tin can at my feet
Think I'll kick it down the street
That's the way to treat a friend

Bright before me the signs implore me
To help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Monday, October 26, 2015


These next two pictures are not mine.   They were taken by John Geracimos and posted on social media.   They are accurate portrayals of the huge  multiple hundred person lines that can form on one or two peak usage Saturdays in the Fall.
 John Geracimos's photo.
Saturday one-on-one PATC Trail Patrol training for  new member Liz T.

About a mile into our training hike we came upon a young lady who had badly hurt her ankle.  With lots of help from her hiking party and Good Samaritans we were able to wrap and splint her ankle  and get her out to the upper parking lot and into one of the cars her hiking party had driven to the mountain.

Sunday PATC Trail Patrol Training for new member Keith T.

During our training hike we met up with and briefly visited with the Old Rag Mountain Stewards.   This is a group of volunteers who works closely with Shenandoah National Park on Old Rag Mountain.   They are a great group of folks.   Besides being trained in backcountry first response they are walking Wurlitzers of  Wisdom about all things Old Rag; LNT, flora, fauna, geology, how to carry heavy things like non-ambulatory patients over rugged mountain terrain, and all kinds of backcountry skills.   The orange shirts with "VOLUNTEER" on the right arm patch, SNP's signature flower a Trillium on the left shoulder, and a SNP radio or two are good ways to ID them.    If you are interested in volunteering with them you can contact them thru their web site at:

This Black Rat Snake was crossing the trail.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Oct. 17&18, 2015 Training and Patrol


Steve Paul was one  of two Rangers that helped hikers  on the summit on Saturday.

Ray B. was my student.   He was finishing up his PATC TP new member training.

It was a pretty sunset on the summit of Old Rag on Saturday night.

If you watch the sunset from the summit you are going to be hiking part of the way back to your car under headlamps.

The line waiting to pay their entrance fee at the Old Rag Contact Station.

A cluster of the approximately 2,000 hikers who went up Old Rag on Sunday.

Thank goodness for the portable commodes and the company that services them when needed.   These resources mean that hikers are able to practice good outdoor ethics and Leave No Trace LNT.

The  fire road before the crowds are coming down it to get back to their cars.

 The summit blueberry pushes add nice red highlights to the Fall color.

The sun gets low in Sunday afternoons skies  as sunset approaches.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Columbus Day Weekend PATC Trail Patrol Stuff

This post is mainly up to provide  visual aids for my Trail Patrol reports for Columbus Day aka Indigenous Peoples Day reports.

Check out the swarm of Old Rag visitors cars parked on Sunday.  A glorious Fall day to hike Old Rag

Little Devils Stairs Blowdown # 1 note the spring loaded tree on the downward bound hikers left

Little Devils Stairs Blowdown # 2 note the spring loaded tree on the upward bound hikers right

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Columbus Day Weekend Little Devils Staircase

Some of the maples had turned vibrant red.

The trail head.

More color.

There was a good amount of water in the canyon.

There is a pretty twenty foot water fall at the top of the canyon.

Fall's Asters are bloomings

The stream hugs the cliffs on the right then the cliffs on the left then cliffs on the right..... and each time it does the trail switches sides.  

These photos do not do the rock walls and burbling cascade of water justice.   Every twenty to thirty feet of vertical gain reveals another set of beautiful pools and cascades to enjoy.

Lots of things for photographers to take pictures of.

SNP has numerous cemeteries that were used by the families who lived in what is now SNP.   Double click on the next picture and read this wonderful memorial titled WHYTHE MOUNTAINS ARE BLUE by Wayne Baldwin.   It honors the sacrifices made by the residents who were forced off their land so that SNP could be made. 

Notice the  plaque's  location in this backcountry cemetery located at the junction of the Hull School  Trail and Keyser Run Fire Road 

A whole cluster of fungi living off a decomposing tree.

Lawyers Wig, aka Shaggy Ink Cap, aka Shaggy Mane, aka Coprinus comatus.