Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fish and Swollen Knees

12 - 26 - 2007

SMG's founding guide is known as the Big Fish, and he has swollen knees. Years of abuse have seen the Big Fish nearly have an obliterated elbow amputated. The wrist and hands of the Fish have repeatedly known the loss of feeling and function. First long days are spent on the ice or more likely in the skis, then countless nights are spent with an ice pack elevated on a very swollen knee. On the Big Fish list of injuries blisters and sunburns need not apply. Right now his knees are swollen for the same reason they are always swollen, he has overstressed them, especially the one he just had surgery on.

You see the Big Fish has a problem we call dedication, and when something he's dedicated to requires standing, you'll see him stand, no matter how swollen the knee. The Big Fish shows dedication to SMG by hard work, and by leadership through example.

At SMG we are all dedicated to adventure and adventure sport education. Our dedication shows as our lives become filled with one adventure following another and we in turn pass those adventure enabling techniques to those around us. With the slow winter work schedule we guides now pursue our own adventures. The Big Fish rehabilitates his knees in anticipation of adventures in the ice and snow of the winters coldest months. The remaining guides seek our own sore knees. We hope to bring home some pictures, and some fish stories, to inspire you, as we have been inspired!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall Glory

These Wild Grapes were found Nov 6 not too far from Skyland lodge. These and a lot more like them are ripe for a trailside snack, provided the bears haven't found them.

Noticed this Red-backed salamander crossing a Tulip Poplar leaf near Rocky Branch trail.

A lightning strike this spring connected with this Oak just off the Skyline drive near mile 40. The splits' jagged path can be followed all the way up the tree. Check it out, it's cool.

Topping out a first ascent of the boulder problem now known as Haggis. It ascends the arete on a chunck of great Old Rag granite in SNP. Some serious fall color in the background. Nice problem Jonathan!

Not all the fall color is in the leaves, this rocks' bright patterns can be seen year round on the passamaquoddy trail.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rocks and Walks

Oct 16 07
Rocking and walking through the fall in SNP. The incredible temperatures are trying to make up for a lack of color, and doing a pretty good job! Looks we'll wait a bit longer for the leaves to peak this year but, "the times they are a changing."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Balanced Trip


A balanced trip takes the right distance, the right amount of time, the right trail, and does not walk under this tree at the wrong time!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hanging Out

Noticed this flowering jewelweed plant hanging out next to some nettles, roots, moss and a small falls on 8-28-07. As for the SMG crew, in the last several weeks we might have been found hanging out at any of the following places:

in a rain storm with GWU students

guiding climbers in the GW National forest

guiding climbers in SNP

guiding climbers at the Frederick Co., VA Sheriff's Camp

guiding hiking on various trails in SNP

climbing personally at Franklin, WV, the Red, the New, and the most dirty, loose cliffs in WV

swimming in a multitude of swimming holes.

Living the good life!

Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar hanging out near the trail on a guided hike.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Before and After

8 - 10 - 2007

If a picture's worth a thousand words then zoom in on these faces. Sometimes it feels like we have to drag ourselves kicking and screaming to make that hike, rappel off that edge, or slide that slide, but in the end the face says it all. It's totally worth it!

Boys in the Wood

Aug 4 - Aug 10, 2007
When we leave our comfort zone we stand to learn a lot about life. For seven days the ten of us learned through paddling, climbing and living out of a pack. Although everyone under 25 started the week having never spent a night in the woods, much is learned through thunderstorms, struggles, and six summer nights.

Hot and Cool

8 - 6 - 07
A hot and fast hike up the mountain was followed by a very cool day of climbing. After a few great climbs at the Skyline wall it was the beauty of the evening light, victory, and a cool breeze for chilling on the Old Rag summit. We made it back late, tired, and smiling.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Slippery Sods

Hanging from a slippery sloper in Dolly Sods, WV and doing a little water bouldering. I guess that's what you do when you've had enough river tromping, water sliding, rock jumping, and you're still looking for some more high adventure.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


With the Nature Conservancy
7 - 25 - 07

When the goal is to discuss nature's conservation, how long is it appropriate just to enjoy nature? When will wolves again run free and American Chestnuts stand tall in Shenandoah National Park? If Adirondack National Park creates an invaluable source of fresh water for New York City, how do we show the world that parks are financially viable and fiscally responsible? If many species we see are invasive, The dominant tree (chestnut) and predators are gone, then what has been conserved? How can we think bigger and help more?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Zeb walks on water

July 16 - 20, 2007

The high adventure "Zeb" program spent much of their packed week in the water. From Shenandoah, VA to Dolly Sods, WV, canyons were descended. Caves and cliffs were also descended. A great week!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

High Adventure

July 8 - 13, 2007

Camp Rock Enon's Zeb, high adventure program led by us (SMG) is just that. Whether climbing or rappelling a large cliff in VA or WV, swimming a hundred yards through frigid cave water, canyoneering, mountain biking, or just team building the adventures won't be forgotten.

Summer Vacation

June 28 - July 01, 2007

My Summer Vacation in Shenandoah was amazing! I saw many great views from the Skyline Drive. But the views were so much bigger from the Appalachian Trail, or from the top of the rocks I climbed. I saw lots of waterfalls. I jumped off rocks into crystal clear water. I slid a natural water slide. I liked the locals too; the Rattlesnake I stepped over was nice and didn't even rattle. I accidentally interrupted a Black Bear while he was eating a dinner of ants but he just turned and walked away. I hope he finished his meal after we passed though. I had fun and learned a lot, but the best part was hanging out with Dad.

Normal Rockwell

July, 1 - July, 6 2007

No it's not a Norman Rockwell painting you see above, just a normal view into Camp Rock Enon's Mountaineering Week. There were many Rockwell like scenes from the week. Those scenes include a group of boys enjoying hot drinks during a cool evening's sunset from one of four high cliffs where we sat in Shenandoah. Another scene is that of the same group trying to look 360 degrees at once so we wouldn't miss any fireworks exploding in the valleys all around. Perfect weather, a great week on the trail.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Enjoying the Va,IEWS

Enjoying Shenandoah Va views with us this week were folks from VA, MD, NC, NH, CO, S. Africa, Southern Living mag and probably a few more. Good times had by all.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What's better?

If anyone knows a better way to bring in the summer than going out with good folks and canyoneering, please let us know, we want to lead those trips, too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Skunk in the Meadow with you

After Search and Rescue training a relaxed walk in the Meadow is sweet. Watch out for this family of five skunks, they might be cute but momma can spray you from 10 feet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

6 - 17 - 07

Spent some time looking at the wildflowers in the morning, saw this guy in the afternoon. It's amazing what you find when you're looking.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fresh Air

A lot like this bear, we spent the day enjoying the fresh mountain air. We spent some quality time hanging out above a lot of that fresh air on the side of a hundred foot rock. Once finished climbing and rappelling with the group I decided to go bouldering alone. While I climbed, a bear lingered nearby. I'm not sure which one of us was more interested in the other, with me climbing rocks and the bear searching for grubs. But as with the earlier part of the day, I think everyone enjoyed the company.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blue Ridge Bounty

June 7-9 07

Our second day hiking revealed Shenandoah’s diverse wildlife. First we watched Peregrine Falcons in flight then we headed to the water. In a pool near the first waterslide we watched this common water snake eat tadpoles as a frog enjoyed a dip. More waterslides, good company and rock climbing were also enjoyed.

Guides go Big

Before the summer rush a couple guides managed to slip out for vacation. It started with some deep water soloing in West Va. before hopping a plane for the Zion canyon lands in Utah and some rock climbing at Red Rocks Nevada.

The rock in Zion is incredible! The sheer walls of Zion form immense mountains of Navajo sandstone. Here are some pictures of the stone on a small scale.

The canyons we chose to descend were mostly technical and included rappelling, wet or dry suits and some canyoneering specific techniques. We descended Keyhole, Das Boot, The Subway, Kolob, part of the Narrows and Imlay.

Even in the above 90 degree temps it can be very cold while descending the beautiful but dark canyons. In the picture above Brian shivers in his dry suit while Jeremy starts a long chained rappel. The picture below shows one of us doing push-ups to warm up after a swim.

We rounded out the trip with some bouldering and some hot climbing in Red Rocks, the home of the Horned Lizard pictured below. It was an unforgettable trip.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hanging in Shenandoah

A great couple of days with Cisco, Southern Living, and this guy, a Red Spotted Newt in the Eft Stage. Hanging next to waterfalls, on the porch of the lodge, in a forest covered with flowers, and off the side of Old Rag with new friends. This is the life.

Living Large


Cruising down the river or watching Eagles cruise overhead, you can't help but have a good time.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

High Angle Rescue

The staff at Shenandoah Mountain Guides is delighted to announce our successful completion of the Eastern High Angle Rescue Course! The course was held April 23-27 at Shenandoah National Park.
A fully loaded week of the many skills learned and practiced included all the elements of several types of technical high angle rescue. From litter tending on wet vertical rock, to rigging hull systems, to ascending on the jungle penetrator into the park police's Eagle One helicopter the course was extremely educational. The fun wasn't limited to learning new search and rescue skills. We took joy in showing off our home park, night climbing with students and instructors on Old Rag and Stony Man mountains and teaching anchor systems.
New friends, a wealth of new knowledge and ultimately the preparedness to keep endangered lives alive. What an awesome week! Thanks to all our extremely competent instructors and to Shenandoah National Park for this opportunity.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia's Waterfalls Weep

Life goes on in the Blue Ridge.
We start atop a mountain on what poses as a winter morning. The fog and cold accentuate a feeling left from Monday's tragedy. It unfolded not so many miles south of where we stand. Soon we are aware of the earliest signs of spring. The yellow buds of Spicebush with their lemon scent, and Redbud, which adorns the woods with Tech burgundy. We reach water and begin to follow it down. The stream weeps over smooth stone slabs, falls, narrow chutes, and flowers beginning to bloom. Trilliums, Chickweed, Spring-beauties, Buttercups, Bloodroot, Cutleaf Toothwart, Wild Geraniums, varied Violets, Bluets and many others are proof of renewed life. The blooms show us frailty, beauty, and change. All this alongside the power of the water and the permanence of rock. We are in awe of these creations. Like budding trees on a beautiful spring day we begin to heal. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Bloodroot springs, from cold

Ice falls and crack climbs invite

New season, new joys
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