Monday, April 2, 2012

Flowers on Old Rag and a Meeting of Mountain Stewards

Michael and I had Friday off and the forecast was pretty good, so we headed to Old Rag.  Yeah, we've hiked there a lot, but we hadn't been up there since the end of fall season with Old Rag Mountain Stewards in November.  It was also a chance to hike it on a weekday, when the mountain sees far fewer visitors.

When we arrived, we were surprised to see the fee station open on a weekday.  I had gotten the impression that it was only staffed on weekends, which is apparently wrong.  We showed our pass and headed up the road. We were walking along and I found myself thinking, "I don't remember being able to see the summit from here."  Then I looked around and realized why:  There has been some logging along the road to the trailhead. Private property extends right up to the first few feet of the Ridge Trail and that has been logged.  We were talking about it and realized that, in 300 years of settlement, this is certainly not the first time the area has been logged.  The landscape is constantly changing and this is just one more of those changes.

The hike up the Ridge Trail was pleasant and we made good time.  We had lunch at the first false summit, where we noticed that it had clouded over.  By the time we were underway again, it was sprinkling.  Wet rocks just make the rock scramble more fun, right?  We ran into two women who got turned around and were heading down the mountain, but thought they were still headed for the summit.  Even off duty, we wind up giving directions.

We didn't spend long at the summit since it was raining. We took our time descending, checking out the flowers along the way.  By the time we reached Old Rag Shelter, the sun was back out and the rain had stopped.

Saturday, we had our annual spring Old Rag Mountain Stewards weekend.  This year, it was held at the Blue Ridge Environmental Center near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  We had a good meeting, after which, much revelry ensued.  We volunteer with such an amazing group of people.  This weekend just reinforced how proud and lucky we are to get to participate in the program.  As the last activity of the meeting on Sunday, I led a wildflower hike on the grounds of the Blue Ridge Environmental Center.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 Trillium grandiflorum (Giant Trillium)
 A fiddlehead on the Ridge Trail.
 Epigaea repens (Trailing Arbutus).
 Robertson Mountain after the rain.
 Houstonia caerulea (Bluets)
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) on the Ridge Trail.  Usually, these are just starting to bloom right now.  They are mostly finished blooming this year.
 Obolaria virginica (Pennywort) on the Ridge Trail.
 Redbuds blooming along the Weakley Hollow Fire Road.
Hiking down the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. 
 Packera aureus (Golden Ragwort) on the Fire Road.
 Gordon Pond at the Blue Ridge Environmental Center near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) on the Little Turtle Trail at the Blue Ridge Environmental Center.

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