Monday, April 27, 2009

High Angle Rescue

This year the Eastern High Angle Rescue Training (EHART) was held on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC from April 20 to 24. It was a great success! Here at SMG our full time staff were given the opportunity to be a part of the 09 training Cadre and to help instruct the 36 student class. We were happy to oblige, and proud to join this highly professional and exceptional group.

From the moment we arrived Sunday the 19th till the moment we departed Friday the 24th the days were packed with training, planning, teaching and evaluating. Breakfast usually began at 6:30 am and many days did not draw to a close until the finish of planning meetings or night operations post midnight! The above picture was taken during a night evolution on top of Grandfather Mtn where one of the stations was a rappel off the swinging bridge by headlamp. The wind gust were in the fifties, and this student can be seen to have spun several times in the few seconds it took to reach the ground.

Several nights there was a short window of free time after dinner and before evening meetings. While during the day it was purely training at beautiful climbing areas like the above pictured Table Rock, in the backs of minds there was plotting. Several instructors and students could not ignore the fact that if one was to just skip dinner the free time window could be expanded just long enough for some incredible rock climbs to fall beneath our feet!

In the end, we were all proud to see the extremely competent group of rescuers head back to their home parks. Lives will be saved, and we look forward to the rescue stories brought back next year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

As Good As It Gets

Three days in the incredible Shenandoah backcountry, wildflowers in bloom, snows followed by swims and just the right amount of grunt to make you sleep sound and wake a bit sore.

A raven swoops the Old Rag summit and as with most of nature, we watch in awe.

An Early Saxifrage blooming out of what appears to be pure rock next to a waterfall/slide.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Egrets and Easter

From a canoe or kayak slipping silent through a stream, river, or lake you never now what you will see. One week ago we watched as a fish flapped violently fifty feet above our heads, clutched in the talons of an Osprey and headed towards the chirping nest on the Thorton river. Then on Good Friday there was the treat of watching Egrets from the water of a local lake. The spring rains make local streams runable an who knows what we will see on the next trip.

The Egret standing in the tree on the top left corner is hard to see unless you click on the pic and blow it up.

Sunrise Easter morning on top of Red Oak Mtn.

A Yellow Adder's Tongue bloom seen on last Thursdays hike.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

and More Training

Today two helicopters zipped in from Delaware and D.C. for some training with the Shenandoah High angle rescue crew. The weather was clear and cold, ice hung on the sides on the Skyline Drive and the wind whipped even before the aircraft arrived. Park service personnel and volunteers alike were battered by the cold wind chop throughout the training evolutions. Watching a loaded litter, basket, or jungle penetrator ascend into the hovering craft inspires confidence in the rescuers who deftly control them.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Watch your step, there's some little guys out there!

Friday, April 03, 2009


Sometimes a rainy day forecast is dead wrong!
I love those days.
So do the snails.

So does the Bloodroot.

Be careful with Lassie though, he's not so good at the rain swollen stream crossings and occasionally needs a rescue!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Walk in the Fog

When it's so foggy you don't know if you're looking off a twenty foot cliff or a two hundred foot cliff... be careful, it might be a two hundred foot cliff! But if you've seen the boulders and had the urge to become a bird, well then you know you've been to the top of the world. Keep vigilant. It's a long slippery walk down.
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