Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blowin' in the Wind...

A nice thing for some of the ORM Stewards is that some of them/us are able to make our living in the mountains as outdoor educators and guides... meaning we get to see the mountains on days other than the crazy busy and crowded weekends... and visit many of the other fantastic mountains in the area... (contrary to commonly held beliefs, (apparently) Old Rag is NOT the only great mountain with a great mountain hike!)
Last weekend saw more than 3000 (!) hikers and visitors to Old Rag Mountain on Saturday... Can anyone picture a granite Kings Dominion??
Sunday the place was "relatively desolate".. only 1000 (!) people on the mountain.. with more than 100 on the summit area at any given time thru 6.00pm.

If it were not for our days away from Old Rag, I think the crowds would be a bit discouraging for someone who wants to really have a "mountaintop experience" . But I guess if you live in the city, it'll do....I mean it IS nature, sort of..
Although with 3000 visitors, I suspect even Nature stays away or wants to stay away (for a very good reason!

And now for the bad news:
Having spent the midweek this week in Shenandoah, I am sad to report that the wind has stripped a large amount of the Fall color from the trees, and most of the mountain summits and ridges above 1500 ft (most of them, in other words) are looking pretty much like winter
...But you don't have to take my word for it...The picture (above) was taken today (Thursday, October 28) at about 5.00pm looking toward Old Rag from the Skyline Drive..


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When the rubber meets the road..

While the primary raison d'etre for the Old Rag Mountain Steward program is to provide "mountain stewardship", promoting sound outdoor practices and ethics (like Leave No Trace) and trying to provide mountain education and safety awareness (our orange tee-shirts are an effort to make us very visible to hikers who may have a question or need assistance)...

..more often than not, our presence on Old Rag is most often realized in the event of an emergency: hiker illness or injury or separated parties.

Every weekend we have training on a very wide range of topics (see the previous post) so that regardless of the situation, be it a first time hiker's bear encounter or a traumatic injury we are prepared to respond appropriately.

This past weekend was no exception, except this was not training. A hiker experienced a severe lower leg injury (from short-cutting a trail, I might add. ..something that we actively discourage in our LNT role) and required a helicopter medevac.

As always.. training pays off! The joint NPS-ORMS team was able to effect a very smooth and rapid rescue from a very remote and inaccessible part of the mountain.... if they had just stayed on the trail in the first place...

(All images courtesy of Silver Spring Wanderer... one of our key ORMS members.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Training, training, training...

Even on the busiest of days, the Old Rag mountain stewards are always training during their time spent on the mountain: technical mountain skills, wilderness first aid, Leave No Trace, flora and fauna... the scope of their training is wide and inclusive.

And in between we help find "lost" hikers, offer backpacking and hiking tips and assist folks who may have become injured... sometimes all three of those in the span of an hour!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Of Mice and .... HIKERS

This little one lives in the Byrds Nest near the summit of Old Rag Mountain..
About the size of a nickel, it has a furry coat, a protected shelter from winter's howling winds, plus plenty of food and drink...
In most ways, this mouse is much more prepared for a day on Old Rag than are many of the hikers, especially during this busiest of seasons.. fall.

And while hikers don't have to worry about predatory birds and snakes, they should take steps to prepare for all of the other eventualities that the mouse has to worry about...

Warmth, water, food, protection from the elements.

Regardless of the Indian Summer warmth in the valley, the summit of Old Rag is prime hypothermia terrain this time of year.

Pack plenty of water... and don't forget a few extra layers. We have already had several hikers who wished they had come so prepared. Of course, by the time we connect with them, it's usually on the too late side of comfort.

mouse and dime

"Thanks to the Volunteers on Saturday October 2nd

My name is --- and I was assisted by 3 Volunteers this past Sat. afternoon. I was leading a group of 7 people and we lost 1 person in our party. I sent everyone else down to the car and climbed back up to the summit ,alone, to get help. 3 of the volunteers moved into action and started a search for my friend. 2 of the volunteers, I didn't get their names, descended via the ridge trail, and (ORMS X)and I descended via the saddle trail looking for my friend, XXX. Thankfully, XXX had returned to the car at the Old Rag Parking area.
I am very grateful for your willingness to help me look for XXX. Your help on the Mountain is something I will always remember. Keep up the good work!!
Thanks again,

You are most welcome!