Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Old Rag Mountain Stewards: Final Weekend of the Year

This past weekend was the final weekend of patrol for Old Rag Mountain Stewards for the year.  We are on the mountain in the spring through approximately July 4 and then again in the fall, which is the busiest time of year.  We spend all year walking the trails, talking to people, training, more training, and rarely working a rescue.  Last year, a new tradition was started for the last day:  an epic adventure.  This year was just as epic.

Saturday was a regular patrol day.  After checking in at the Old Rag fee station, we started our day at Berry Hollow because we had a lot of gear to carry.  A lot of gear.  We looked like a disaster walking up the trail.  We all agreed that, if we encountered a similarly encumbered group as part of our patrol, we would raise an eyebrow.  Many eyebrows were raised as we made our way to Old Rag Shelter, where we set up camp. 

Saturday was busy.  The crowd had some unusual suspects, including this guy, who arrived on the summit barefoot and wearing long underwear. 
There was plenty of wind and this hiker came prepared.
Getting the ropes set to do vertical ascending training.
The rare spinning bootshot while ascending one of the ropes.
 Michael ascending the ropes.
Berries in the fading sunlight.
Sunset from the summit of Old Rag.
After the day's patrol, we had a fantastic cookout.  Old Rag Patrols brought steaks, Shenandoah Mountain Guides brought veggies and brownies, another mountain steward brought pasta salad, and I brought a pecan-bourbon cake.  That is the long way of saying we had a feast.  As we were sitting in front of the fire, the nearly-full moon rose over the ridge. 

 We got up early on Sunday to carry gear up the mountain.  We made it to the summit around 9:30, which is probably the earliest I have ever been up there.  The summit was empty since we arrived ahead of the crowds.  It was also windy.  We had to yell to talk to each other.
The wind eventually died down a little bit and it turned out to be a very nice day.  There was a lot of work to be done setting anchors and ropes. 
Michael rappelling down a face from the summit.
Another volunteer setting up a top-roped climb (he is in an orange shirt on the cliff near the center of the photo - click to enlarge).
Packing up after a long, awesome, epic day.  The day couldn't have happened without the hard work of each person.  This is the end of our fourth fall season with Old Rag Mountain Stewards.  We are incredibly lucky to work with such a great group. 

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