Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Old Rag and Dark Hollow Falls

This past weekend, Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) held training at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. In our downtime on Saturday, a group of us hiked down to Dark Hollow Falls. I've hiked up to the falls from the Rose River trailhead on the boundary of the park, but hadn't actually ever hiked from Skyline Drive. It is one of the busiest trails in the park, probably busier than even Old Rag simply because of its proximity to Big Meadows and its length (only 1.5 miles round trip). In spite of the short distance, it is plenty steep and and you hike down first. We saw more than a few people who had underestimated the effort required to return to their car.

Tusilago farafara (Coltsfoot). Although not native, Coltsfoot is pretty and it has the distinction of being the first wildflower I saw this year.

 Upper Dark Hollow Falls
Another view of Upper Dark Hollow Falls
Lower Dark Hollow Falls. The water is forced into much smaller crevices in the lower falls.

On Sunday, training was held on Old Rag. We inventoried the cache at Byrd's Nest Shelter and generally enjoyed the very nice weather. The mountain was very busy, but we came up from Berry Hollow, so we missed most of that. The native wildflowers have started blooming in the valleys, which made me very happy to see after a long winter.

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot). One of the first flowers of spring.
Another S. canadensis
Corydalis flava (Yellow Corydalis)
Lindera benzoin (Spicebush)
Byrd's Nest Shelter through the trees from the Saddle Trail.
Looking down from the summit at the rock scramble.
One of many opferkessels  (which is a great word) on the summit of Old Rag. They are often filled with water, like this one.
So, I often say that there is nothing out there that I could possibly see or hear about on Old Rag that would surprise me. I was proven wrong twice this weekend: 1) A ranger said that he saw a woman with a parrot on a leash on the mountain on Saturday. That actually surprised me. I have not seen anyone with a parrot on the mountain before. 2) Above. Some idiot filled at least two of the obferkessels with plaster. Seriously. The plaster wouldn't easily come out (two members of our group tried), so it will just be there.
 Looking southeast from the summit.
A butterfly near the summit sign.

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