Tuesday, March 29, 2011


It's spring and the Raven chicks are hungry! Or maybe the Raven chicks are not quite born just yet. Either way momma Raven is near by, and we are doing our best not to disturb her.

Hiking and rock climbing season are upon us and although sometimes it might be a little brisk, the views and the friction are the best this time of year.

Whether you want to practice anchor building on vertical faces...

Slab climbing with plenty of air beneath your feet...

or top-roping one of the parks classic crack climbs. Spring is the season!

And if you happen to get hurt on the Old Rag trail, or one of its many cracks or crystal pinching climbs, the Old Rag Mountain Stewards have been hard at work training for those ragged mountain rescues. In the unfortunate event of an accident, the Stewards will do their best to give you a splint and a hand, to put you on the level and send you on your way.

And then... Surprise! It's winter again, Beautiful and frightening the hoarfrost snow and ice come in.

It covers the rock climbs, pine trees, and milkweeds alike, but lucky for us it doesn't hang around long this time of year.

Before we know it we are back admiring the early blooming Spicebush and climbing some rarely touched rocks before we realize we have come to close to a Ravens nest and decide it's best for us and the birds that we move on.

Along with the dog we admire a walking tree. The willow tree is budding and although it's cold today we know that the summer is not far off and spring might be back tomorrow.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stigmata Chaga

A Chaga is a rare parasitic fungus. It grows even more rarely at this latitude. On a recent heritage hike we found one of these slow growing mushrooms on the side of a Birch tree at one of the park's historic church sites. The graffiti cut into the other side of the tree reads "Jesus Saves." Well, since the 16th century Chagas have been touted all over the world for their medicinal qualities. Recently a number of studies have shown an epochal effect in several types of cancer. As one of our guides has a family member with cancer I broke off a legally harvestable chunk of the growth to be sent to the family member. As we stood observing the interesting pattern in the center of the chaga a red drip formed and started running down the mushroom. I didn't think to get a picture but as we talked about it later a lady from the trip said "I'm not even Catholic but that gave me the willies."

New spring life comes to the old home sites in Shenandoah with the perennial daffodils.

Celebrating a monumental birthday during our heritage hike the birthday girl lay down for a SHORT rest near the historic park cemetery.

This beautifully curved hand-dug spring has been running since well before the park was established.

And this arrowhead was manmade far before the spring was dug, a recent rain washed it up so that we were lucky enough to see it. We left the artifact where it is most valuable to the archaeologist, right where we found it.

150 foot rappels? Yea, we do those.

Vultures dry their wings after a spring rain.
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