Tuesday, April 7, 2009

According to ORM Steward, Liz...

(from the Lynchburg News Advance.com)

Real Sense of Adventure
By Liz Barry on Apr. 01, 2009

Hiking 8 miles in flip-flops is a bad idea. Scrambling over car-sized boulders in high heels is downright absurd.
Believe it or not, those feats of stupidity, and others, have been attempted on Old Rag Mountain, a strenuous hiking hotspot in Shenandoah National Park that offers a challenging rock scramble and stellar views.
Each year, upwards of 50,000 people ascend Old Rag, making it one of the most popular hiking destinations in the mid-Atlantic region. Because of its proximity to Washington, D.C. and a number of smaller cities like Lynchburg, Old Rag, tends to attract city folk looking for adventure.
“It’s the closest big, wild experience to D.C. It gives everybody a real sense of adventure,” says Andy Nichols, coordinator of the Old Rag Mountain Stewards, a volunteer group that mans the mountain every weekend from May to November.
Over the years, the high volume of hikers has damaged Old Rag’s natural resources — including rare mosses and other vulnerable wildlife. Park officials have considered restricting access to the mountain.
That’s where the Old Rag Mountain Stewards (ORMS) come in. This motley crew of trained volunteers protects the mountain’s natural resources by educating hikers and keeping them safe. After last year, their first season on Old Rag, park rangers saw a significant decline in trash and injuries on the mountain.
The volunteers hope to continue that work next year. And for the foreseeable future, the mountain is open year round to the public without major restrictions.

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