Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hard Work on Old Rag

I am a couple of days late this week because I was on travel for work.  We spent the weekend volunteering with Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS).  Saturday started out pretty normally for a fall weekend:  a crazy, crowded parking lot, large groups, and nice crisp weather.  Since this was the last weekend of the year on the mountain for ORMS, we planned to camp at Post Office Junction and have a big potluck dinner with other stewards.  Eight stewards were scheduled for Saturday:  the largest group on the mountain this year.  In the morning, that just seemed like a great chance to see a lot of people we hadn't seen in a while, but by the end of the day, the number of stewards would be critical.

We parked on the back side of the mountain, walked to Post Office Junction, and pitched our tent.  The rest of the group caught up with us and we all walked up to Byrd's Nest Shelter for Leave No Trace training.  We spent a pleasant afternoon talking about the principles of Leave No Trace and giving people directions to the privy further down the mountain.  Late in the afternoon, we walked up to the summit, mostly looking forward to a good dinner that night.  And then, about 30 minutes before sunset, the call came in.

The park called with a report of a non-ambulatory hiker.  Three stewards headed for the patient while the rest of us waited to see if more gear would be needed.  The stewards found the patient and confirmed the patient was, indeed, non-ambulatory...and had no extra clothes...nor did the other members of the party.  The rest of the night was spent hauling gear, addressing the patient's needs and transporting the patient.  The patient was in one of the more difficult locations on the trail for an evacuation, but the team worked together flawlessly to do it as safely and as efficiently as possible.  We finished up after midnight.  The three of us staying the night stumbled into camp, ate dinner and collapsed into bed, thankful that we didn't have to drive home.

Sunday was another beautiful day and, thankfully, it turned out to be a quiet day.  We had a great lunch at Byrd's Nest Shelter, did some training on knots and closed out the year without further incident.

I want to give a huge thank you to the four climbers who jumped in and helped with the rescue on Saturday.  Given the number of people we had, we could not have done it with out them.  We also owe a huge thank you to the members of the Virginia Tech fraternity who helped us carry gear.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 The summit on Saturday afternoon.
One of the great things about Old Rag in the fall is the ravens.  They ride thermals up, over, and around the summit.  They can provide hours of entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, we watched a remarkable sight:  A couple of the ravens carried rocks in their claws.  They tossed them into the air, then they dove, rolling over on their backs just in time, and caught the rocks in the air.  They did this over and over until a hawk appeared.  The ravens scattered, regrouped and then harassed the hawk until it went away.
 Another raven flying near the summit.
 A raven taking off from one of the boulders.
 Transporting the patient.
 Lycopodium sp.  This is a club moss, but I'm not sure which one.
Sunday afternoon:  Stewards moving slow after a long night.
Knot training.
Sunset on the summit on the walk out on Sunday.


  1. Third to last picture about sums it up! :-)

  2. Nice post. Very nice Raven shots. Something about that glow on Sunset Walls warms my heart.