You may recall that Melissa and I recently became involved with a rather dedicated group of hikers/climbers/general outdoors types that do weekly patrols on Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. You may recall that this group is called Old Rag Mountain Stewards, or ORMS for short. If you’re really good, you may even be able to remember that way back in late March Mel and I spent a cold, snowy weekend in Shenandoah National Park, learning wilderness first aid and generally trying to figure out what the heck we had gotten ourselves into. I also went to some high angle training with these guys. Is this all ringing bells?
Since that time, Melissa and I have patrolled on two separate dates; we patrolled on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 8, and I patrolled today, Saturday May 14. We just wanted to give you a quick recap of what has been going on up on the mountain.
First Patrol: May 8th, 2011
We arrived at the Old Rag parking area on May 8th expecting a fairly busy day. The weather was gorgeous. We also overestimated the time we had to leave home to make it on time, and as a consequence arrived about half an hour early…oh well… We met up with the rest of the group, consisting of lead steward Chad, with Liz, Lizandra, Bob, and of course us.
We decided to hike the ridge trail, and enjoyed an excellent, hands on lesson on the local plant life. This was, of course, with the exception of Poison Ivy, which we studied from a distance. Lizandra is becoming a whizz at identifying it, and I’d like to point out that IS intended to be taken as a factual statement!
We could not have been more wrong about the crowds; despite it being a beautiful Mother’s Day, we guess there were only around 300-400 people on the mountain. Here are a few photos from the day.
Today I patrolled as the only Zook representative. Mel was in Richmond visiting family, so I headed for Old Rag solo. Remembering our previous experience of arriving 30 minutes early, I naturally swung to the opposite extreme…and was almost late after leaving 15 minutes later than I wanted to. Oops…
I was optimistic as I rolled out of the ‘burg, and headed north on I-81. The weather in the valley was clear, with sun shining through partly cloudy skies and some clouds sitting on Massanutten ridge and the Blue Ridge. I found myself happily contemplating the start of another beautiful day on Old Rag…
…My thoughts were complexly dashed as I drove up over Thorton Gap on 211. I rolled into a heavy fog, with stayed with me until I reached Sperryville. As I approached Old Rag, I couldn’t even see the mountain for the fog. The National Park Service might have well have removed the darn thing for all I could tell.
Despite the crummy weather, the parking area was reasonably full. I met my patrol crew, which consisted of lead steward Ben, as well as Bob, Jason, and Mary, and we began our patrol. We decided that the bulk of us would head up the Saddle Trail due to slippery rocks, though Bob and another patroller elected to sweep up the ridge trail.
Despite not being able to see much more than 40 feet ahead for most of the day, I have to say Old Rag in the rain is still beautiful. I’ve included some pictures from the day here.