Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween with Old Rag Mountain Stewards

We worked with Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) both days this weekend.  The fall colors, while past their peak on the summit of the mountain, were at their peak anywhere they were sheltered from the strongest gusts of wind.  Saturday was a bit windy and chilly.  It was a busy day, but not excessively crowded for an October Saturday and six of us were out with ORMS.  Since it was Halloween weekend, several of us showed up with some costume elements to celebrate the occasion.

We headed up the Weakley Hollow Fire road.  Another volunteer drove around to Berry Hollow and also went up the Saddle Trail.  The rest of the volunteers hiked up the Ridge Trail.  The trees on the fire road were spectacular.  Bright yellow mixed with red maples and other trees to make a beautiful hike up to the Saddle Trail.  We made it up to the summit in record time without even trying.  At the summit, most of the leaves have been blown off of the trees already. It was windy and cool, even in the sun.  We took a look around the summit, which was crowded, and then spent some time in the sun chatting with people as they reached the top. 

After the other volunteers reached the top, we went down to Byrd's Nest shelter to do some training on the haul system for the litter.  The haul system is a set of ropes and rigging that allows us to safely move a patient over difficult terrain.  It can even be used to raise or lower a patient on a cliff.  By the time we were done with training, it was getting late, so we went back up to the summit to see if any hikers remained.  We were treated to a spectacular sunset on the way down the Ridge Trail.

Saturday night, we camped at one of the campsites along the fire road.  It was clear and cold, but not unpleasant.  We sat up for a little while with another volunteer, drinking tea and chatting before climbing into the tent.  We awoke to another, slightly warmer, bright clear morning.  By the time we walked down the road to the parking lot, crowds of hikers were on their way up the mountain.

There were just four of us on the mountain on Sunday, but the crowd was lighter, too. The weather was perfect, probably one of the best hiking days this fall.  We went up the Ridge Trail and looked at some of the routes down to some climbing areas.  At dusk, on the summit, the ravens were out, riding thermals and darting in and out of the cliffs.  All in all, it was a great weekend on the mountain.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

 Walking up the Weakley Hollow Fire Raod.

 The trees along the fire road.

The summit from the Saddle Trail.

 My costume for Halloween:  Sequined red horns.

Weakley Hollow from the summit of Old Rag.

 Sunset from the Ridge Trail.

 Looking out over Etlan from the Ridge Trail at sunset.

 The S-Curve where I almost always take a picture.

 Wild Grapes.

 Maple leaves.

Ravens darting around the cliffs at sunset.

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