Sunday, May 16, 2010

Old Rag Mountain Stewards - Water? Who needs water?

Yesterday, we volunteered with Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) again.  It was clear and sunny and promised to be a beautiful warm day.  When we arrived at the parking lot at 9:30 a.m., it was already 2/3 full and one of the park rangers was directing traffic.  We were definitely going to be busy. Far fewer people brought their dogs this week, which is a good thing.  We managed to convince one couple who did arrive with their dog that White Oak Canyon would be a great alternative to Old Rag.

This week, we headed up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road to the Saddle Trail with Shenandoah Mountain Guides.  The summer flowers, including Aquilegia canadensis (Red Columbine) and Houstonia longifolia (Long-Leaved Bluets), are already blooming along the road, which is several week earlier than last year.

We had lunch at Old Rag Shelter.  While we were there, we spotted a Black Rat Snake in the corner of the shelter, just under the eaves.  I would guess that it was 3-4 feet long.  It is probably a pretty good place for a snake since a lot of people eat in that shelter, the food they leave behind draws rodents.  Black Rat Snakes are harmless to people.  They are not aggressive and will not strike unless they feel threatened.  The best way to treat snakes, even venomous ones, is the same way you would treat a large unfamiliar dog:  Give them their space, don't corner them, and don't try to handle them.

We spent some time at the summit talking to people, before heading back down the Saddle Trail to Byrd's Nest Shelter for training.  We practiced a new patient tie-in for the litter.  If someone is injured and cannot walk, the safe way to get them off the mountain involves securing them into a litter and having a team of people carry them out.  I was the patient for one of the tie-ins and the team did a good job - I didn't move much at all when they tested the tie-in.

At the end of the day, five of us went back up to the summit and down the Ridge Trail.  Now to water:  Overall, it was a great day and the crowd was really friendly...and thirsty.  It was a little warmer than was forecast and a number of people we talked to did not bring nearly enough water.  Bonus points for the ones that had not eaten anything all day, either.  Being out of water at the summit makes for a very, very long walk back to the car.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
A. canadensis (Red Columbine) along the Fire Road.

Houstonia longifolia (Long Leaved Bluets)

Click to zoom in to see the black rat snake.  Its head is peeking out, just under the roof and just to the right of the gutter.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel).

Boot shot from the summit.

The S-Curve where I always take a picture.

Hydatica petiolaris (Michaux's Saxigrage).

Capnoides sempervirens (Pink Corydalis).  This is blooming a full three to four weeks earlier than last year.

I took this from the overlook just below the Chute as the sun was going down.


  1. Great photos, I couldn't resist following over from Bob's blog. We have a lot of the black rat snakes at the Hawksbill Cabin too.

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