Friday, June 13, 2008

In the heat of the summer..

From our nice cool spring into the maw of the inferno in the snap of a finger... what's ever happened to transitions?

It's been a busy season for the folks at Shenandoah Mountain Guides and Teamlink.. a lot of end of school activities, a lot of time spent up in them thar hills...
From graduations (Congratulations Jake!) and all of the end-of-school-year activities and hoopla, to tromping all over the Blue Ridge.. to floating anything with water... This life is kind of like one big party.. and it just doesn't get much better!

Our guided adventure programs have been nothing less than amazing.... even on the micro scale... even for us! This is just another (one of many) upturned trees in a damp cove around the 2500 ft level on one of our local hills..
...until you look closer. Hundreds of tiny toadstools. (click on the image for the full effect.)

Besides our guiding, the Old Rag Mountain Steward program, a pilot program we are spearheading in conjunction with Shenandoah National Park, has proven to be significantly challenging. After three weekends of being on the mountain, we've experienced winter, spring and summer, encountered thousands of visitors, some ready for the conditions, many not quite as ready as they wished. We've assisted hundreds, helped locate numerous (misplaced people) and responded to several ("almost" medical emergencies.)

When the day is done, we're like whipped puppies.. ready and able to sleep in a second.

Stewardship by its very nature is born out of love and respect.. This mountain, Old Rag, which towered over me and sheltered me in my childhood, tempted me out to climb and explore during and after class (in high school) occupied many weekends and summer afternoons (in college), and filled my sleepless nights when I was light years distant (in the Navy)... This is a mountain to which I owe so much.
If all I can do is be a good steward to her, and help keep those who venture out on her flanks and summit rocks safe... than I will feel I have at least attempted to repay my debt.

Dung beetles. They lay their eggs in dung. Roll the dung into little balls, then roll those dung balls to wherever dung beetles roll their dung balls to... Go to the SMG blog to see the result of Chad's photographic efforts... below
For the next two Saturday evenings, we'll be doing our summer solstice hikes deep into the meadow at Big Meadows in SNP.. come on out and join us as we hike into the night, then watch the stars come out as the summer haze sinks into the valley.. Let your senses go wild.. taste the rich afterglow of the sun as she sinks thru the distant West Virginia ridges, breathe in the spruce- fir and wildflower aroma of a high elevation glade, wrap yourself in the summer chill, under a blanket of stars, listen as the dew forms on the grasses and sedges of the meadow floor, to a background symphony of barred owls, and watch as two by two, the meadow border fills with eyes... "we won't be gone long, you come too"

All next week, we'll be out on the river.. really...come go with us.