Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hot and Stormy on Old Rag

We had the weekend off from Old Rag Mountain Stewards, but we went out to Old Rag anyway.  Just like this winter, we just can't stay away.  This time, it was to take to friends up who had never been up there.  It was hot.  By 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot, it was already close to 90 degrees.  We ran into the group of ORMS volunteers starting their day.  The hike up the Ridge Trail was uneventful, hot, and sticky, but worth it when we broke out onto the first false summit and into the breeze.

We made our way through the Rock Scramble to the summit. The summit was a bit crowded and one large church group had a devotional while we were up there, but we found a spot mostly to ourselves to relax for a while.  Once again, we could see storms building over Hawksbill and Stony Man, so we decided to make our way down.  We began hearing thunder just above the Byrd's Nest Shelter, which grew louder and louder as we continued down the Saddle Trail. About 15 minutes above Old Rag Shelter, the heavens opened, lightning flashed, followed immediately by thunder, which meant the storm was directly over us.  We were very happy to be off of the summit (which is the last place anyone should be in a thunderstorm).  The rain continued for about half an hour and then the sun returned, but we heard thunder for the rest of the walk down the mountain.

Yesterday was a good day for wildflowers:  The summer wildflowers are starting to bloom in earnest and I saw a couple of flowers I have not noticed on Old Rag in the past.  The Kalmia latifolia is still blooming on the summit, but it is past its peak at this point.  The lower Ridge Trail is lined with Chimaphila maculata (Striped Wintergreen) and Houstonia purpurea (Large Houstonia).  Near the summit, the Saxifraga michauxii (Michaux's Saxifrage) is still blooming, along with Houstonia tenuifolia (Narrow Leaved Houstonia) and Penstemon canescens (Gray Beardtongue).

Pictures (click to enlarge):

Chimaphila maculata (Striped Wintergreen) on the Ridge Trail.  As the name implies, the leaves stay green all year long.

Coreopsis verticillata (Whorled Coreopsis) on the Ridge Trail. 

Talinum teretifolium (Fameflower) in the Rock Scramble.  I have never seen this flower before.  If we had not stopped for a break where we did, I likely would not have seen it this time.

The brush is growing in more at the curve in the trail.

Penstemon canescens (Gray Beardtongue)

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) on the summit.

Storm clouds rolling in over Hawksbill.

Descending on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road after the storm.

Scutellaria elliptica (Hairy Skullcap) on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.

Monotropa uniflora (Indian Pipe).  This plant is another saprophyte, or one that gets its nutrients from decaying matter on the forest floor.  It does not photosynthesize.

Old Rag from Virginia 600 after the storm.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for identifying the Fameflower we saw a lot of it on Saturday and were having trouble finding it in the book. A really pretty flower.