Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Riding Skyline Drive

We rode Skyline Drive on Sunday, taking advantage of the only sunny day in the last two weeks. We had a really nice ride, even if it was a bit windy and cool up high. It was a nice break from the two weeks of rain we've had.
The Peak from Hogwallow Flats Overlook, where we stopped for lunch.
Michael near milepost 19.
Looking east from Little Devils Stairs Overlook.
 Looking west from the top of Hogback Mountain
My loaded bike. I was carrying about 25 pounds on the back of the bike.
Michael and one of our friends finishing the last climb of the day, earning a well-deserved six mile descent.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pinnacles Dedication, Spring Flowers and Wonder

There are a few random things I wanted to post about, but none of them really warranted their own post.

Saturday, we went to the re-dedication of Pinnacles Research and Stewardship Center in Shenandoah National Park. Old Rag Mountain Stewards have had training there a few times. The building is one of the original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) buildings in the park and was in pretty rough shape the last time we did training there. The restoration effort was recently completed and it is a pretty amazing transformation. 
 The outside of the renovated Pinnacles. You can see the condition before the renovation here.
Inside the center. The pictures are of the CCC camp that was on the site of Pinnacles.

After the dedication, we intended to do a little bit of hiking, but the weather was pretty terrible. I took a few photos of flowers and we decided to head home.
Trillium grandiflorum (Giant Trillium)
The Appalachian Trail in the clouds near Pinnacles Picnic Area
Dogwoods along the Drive
 Clematis occidentalis (Purple Virgins Bower)
Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)

And now for something completely different:  We went to see Wonder, an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery near the White House a couple of weeks ago. The exhibit had about 10 large scale sculptures and was just fantastic. 
This sculpture was made by casting a living hemlock in plaster. Then the artist used the cast to recreate the tree with small chips of cedar. It was suspended horizontally from the ceiling. This is looking down the length of it.
A rainbow made from colored string.
 This one reminded me of rock formations out west. It is made from styrofoam cups and index cards. I think this was my favorite, but they were all pretty cool.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Up Above the Clouds: A Magical Day on Old Rag

I have been hiking and volunteering on Old Rag for almost ten years. I often say, especially after the years with Old Rag Mountain Stewards, that nothing at all could surprise me up there. Yesterday, the mountain proved that it still had a few tricks up its sleeve.
Most of the day, we hiked in dreary, overcast fog.  After doing some training at the Byrd's Nest Shelter, we hiked the half mile up to the summit. Just below the summit, we emerged from the clouds into bright sunlight and a clear blue sky. The valley below us was completely filled with clouds and only the highest mountains poked up above the fog. In all the times I've stood on the summit, this was one of the prettiest. Only the very top 100-200 feet of the mountain was above the clouds. As soon as we started to descend, we were back under overcast skies. Even more remarkable: we were on the summit for about an hour and had it to ourselves the entire time.

We had a quiet walk down the mountain through the rock scramble. We saw exactly three people on the way down. In all, the five of us volunteering were approximately 25% of the total number of hikers yesterday. It was the fewest number of people I've ever seen up there, winters included. It was truly an amazing, magical day on the mountain.

More pictures:
Orobranche uniflora (One-Flower Cancerroot). The spring flowers are going full swing right now and did not disappoint.
Galaeris spectabilis (Showy Orchis)
Weakley Hollow Fire Road
 Uvularia perfoliata (Perfoliate Bellwort)
 Ascending the fire road into the fog.
 Looking west from the summit over the clouds in Weakley Hollow
Peeking above the clouds.
Opferkessels on the summit.
Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady Slipper)
Lichens and moss near the summit.
The spot where I always take a picture.
Rhododendron nudiflorum (Pink Azaleas)