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)

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