Sunday, April 28, 2013

Old Rag Flowers and n+1

This was the first weekend that Old Rag Mountain Stewards was on duty in 2013. I talked to WanderMindfully last night. She spent yesterday on the mountain and said it was pandemonium, complete with proverbial flying monkeys. The parking lot filled by 9:30 and lots of large groups. Our experience today couldn't have been more different.  Although it was beautiful and sunny on the drive to the mountain, by the time we were ready to start walking, it was drizzling. The rain continued for the rest of the day, right up to the time we arrived back at the car.  Fortunately, it never rained very hard, and except when we were exposed to the wind up near Byrd's Nest Shelter, it wasn't very cold.

Spring has arrived in Weakley Hollow.  Flowers are blooming everywhere and the leaves are starting to fill out on the trees.  The climb from Old Rag Shelter to Byrd's Nest Shelter effectively takes you back a few seasonal weeks to when the trees are just barely budding out and few flowers have started blooming.  Returning to the bright green valley after being back in the drab colors of winter up high is a little visually shocking, but a welcome sight nonetheless. Changing seasons in a few hours' walk is always like that. A nice quiet start to another season on Old Rag.

Saturday was a different adventure. Our neighbor said he wanted to sell a couple of his old mountain bikes and we fell victim to an immutable law of cycling:  The Correct Number of Bikes to Own = n+1, where n is the number of bikes you currently own.  We had talked about how it would be nice to own bikes with larger tires so we could ride on the C&O Towpath and other unpaved places, but had never really gotten around to doing anything about that.  Then two bikes presented themselves to us.  We took them out on the Towpath on Saturday and rode 34 miles from Riley's Lock to mile 40 and back.  We had a blast and are talking about setting them up to do some touring on the Towpath.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 The trail through the clouds at Byrd's Nest Shelter.
 A dogwood tree blooms above the fire road.
Thalictrum dioicum (Early Meadow Rue).  These flowers are tiny - about 1/4 inch across.
 Old Rag Mountain Stewards looking at an old fruit tree along the fire road.
 Obolaria virginica (Pennywort)
 Maple seeds on the upper Saddle Trail.
 My new ride.  This and the next two pictures were taken with my phone.
 Asimina triloba (Paw Paw Tree)
Trillium sessile (Toadshade Trillium)


  1. Yea ha! Finally got you guys off the pavement. Welcome to the world of mud and grit; roots and rocks. I was down on the Big Slackwater section above Dam #4 yesterday. They really did an excellent repair along that section. We will definitely have to get you out here to western-MD!

  2. We had a blast. We are thinking of doing some touring on the towpath in the near future.