Sunday, September 5, 2010

Old Rag Mountain Stewards - The Beginning of Fall Season

Yesterday was the first day of fall season for Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS).  We got lucky and the weather turned out perfect.  The high was in the 70s and, with the exception of the summit wall, it was only moderately windy.  I am sure we will have some 90 degree days again this year, but yesterday was a really nice break from that.  We arrived in the lower parking lot at 9:30 and found it already two-thirds full.  A friend of ours happened to show up to hike the mountain with two of his buddies, so we spent a few minutes chatting with him before they left for their hike.

By the time we started up the Ridge Trail, it was mostly full.  We passed a number of moderately large groups and one very large church group.  The hike up to the first false summit went quickly.  We paused there for lunch and one of the local farm dogs, an adorable hound mix, tried to convince us to part with some of our food.  In spite of his best begging, he did not look that hungry.

The summit was very crowded when we got there.  We found a shady spot and took a break. Ravens and vultures soared above the summit on the thermals.  After a while, the church group, which was all men, assembled and began singing hymns.  They were actually pretty good.  One of the things I like about volunteering on Old Rag is seeing all of the different people who hike the mountain.  Every time we volunteer, we see people for whom this might be their first hike in the woods, people who were not prepared for how hard it would be, and people who didn't think they could do it, but found out they could.  It is pretty cool to see their eyes light up when they see the summit sign.  

All in all, it was a good start to the fall season.  It was a beautiful day.  The only assistance we had to provide was handing out a couple of bandaids.  There was just one disappointment:  We were dismayed to find that someone had dug up nearly all of the individual plants of a fairly rare species that we had been watching for most of the year.  The holes where the person dug were still visible and it was clear that the plants had not been eaten by an animal, but dug out of the ground.  It is a shame that someone is selfish enough to contribute to the further destruction of an already rare species.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

Looking northeast from the summit. 

Eupatorium rugosum (White Snakeroot).  Composite Family

The S-curve in the trail where I always take a picture.

Red berries on a tree I was not able to identify (suggestions welcome).

Looking southeast from the Saddle Trail.

Lobelia siphilitica (Great Lobelia).  Lobelia Family.  Note the three lobes on the bottom petal, the marker of the Lobelia family.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower).  Lobelia Family.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like the plant with the red berries is in the Cornus family, maybe a dogwood. The fruit and leaves look like that of cornus florida or flowering dogwood.