Posts filed under ‘Old Rag’

Banking on Disgust

Years ago, I had my own special strategy when I left valuables in my car. I kept a box of tampons in the console between the two front seats. If I had to leave money or jewelry in my vehicle, I would bury it in that box. If anyone wanted to steal from me, they would actually have to touch a tampon to do so.

Now these are unused tampons, of course, but from the faces I have spied on various male acquaintances when their significant others requested a “special pick up” from the grocery store, I was pretty confident the mere notion of a tampon would be deterrent enough.

I was banking on disgust.

A couple of months ago, when hiking Old Rag, our group of hikers ran into a dung beetle.

Old Rag - Beetle with Dung
Dung Beetle at Old Rag

I was actually unaware that dung beetles lived in North America. I had thought they were only found in Africa, when in fact, they inhabit all the continents except Antartica. While reading to rectify my dung beetle misconceptions, I ran across a cute Aesop fable called THE DUNG BEETLE AND THE EAGLE.

Basically, a beetle got pretty darn miffed at an eagle for brutally devouring a hare. To retaliate, the beetle ransacked the eagle’s nest and destroyed all its eggs. The eagle made another nest, this one higher and safer. But never underestimate a grudge! The beetle found that as well and once again the eggs were destroyed. The next time, the eagle had to step up his game. Men are always having to protect their crotches from the likes of irate knees or toddlers with whiffleball bats. So what safer place could there be than the lap of the almighty Zeus himself?!?

So here’s this little beetle. If he wanted to destroy his nemesis’ eggs, he would have to take on the King of the Gods. The King of the Gods! He’s a tiny beetle!!! Zeus is HUGE, not to mention he has a whole arsenal of lightening bolts at his disposal! There was only one thing the beetle could do.

He banked on disgust. 🙂

…he stuffed himself with dung and went straight up to Zeus and flew right into his face. At the sight of this filthy creature, Zeus was startled and leaped to his feet, forgetting that he held the eagle’s eggs inside his lap. As a result, the eggs were broken once again.

— “THE DUNG BEETLE AND THE EAGLE” translated by Laura Gibbs

P.S. It’s all a happy ending, I suppose. I never had anyone infiltrate my tampon box and run off with my jewelry. Meanwhile, Zeus changed the eagle’s nesting season to when the beetle was harmlessly hibernating underground. The eagle’s eggs were safe for centuries. That is…until the beetle finally mastered DDT.

July 19, 2010 at 10:59 am 6 comments

Old Rag – Favorite Shots

A number of months ago, my camera was disemboweled by a faulty memory card. Really. A loose piece of the memory card snagged on part of the camera and pulled it out.

I finally went ahead and procured myself a new camera (A Rebel EOS T1i). Two days later, the camera was on its very first hike! It felt so good to be empowered to take pictures again! Here are a few of my favorite shots from the outing.

Old Rag - Somma Takes in View
Ryan Enjoys View

Old Rag - Relaxing
Hiker Relaxing on Ridge Trail

Old Rag - Curvy Trunk, Holey Trunk
Curvy Tree, Holey Tree

Old Rag - Backlit American Chestnut Leaves
American Chestnut Leaves!

Old Rag 2010 - Moss and Log
Mossy Log

Old Rag - Two Ryans Near the Top
Two Ryans Near Top

Old Rag - Lichen Rock
Lichen on Rock

More pictures of our Old Rag Hike:

My pictures on Flickr
Ryan Somma’s pictures on Flickr

June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Hiking in Vibrams – Old Rag

For my 35th Birthday hike, Ryan and I did a 6.7 mile hike in our Vibram Five Fingers. But– it was a flat hike mostly on packed soil. We didn’t really get a feel for how the footwear would do on a “real hike”.

So two weekends ago, we found out. A small group of our friends decided to hike Shenandoah’s Old Rag. In 2009, Backpacker Magazine readers voted Old Rag to be the best hike in Virginia. It’s 8.8 miles, at least one mile of which is a rock scramble, and has an elevation gain of 2,510 feet. Should be a suitable test!

My concerns going in were traction and lack of ankle support. Because I wasn’t certain about the Vibrams, poor Ryan completed the whole hike with my boots tied to his backpack… just so I would have backup footwear. : )

Pros – Ascent and Rock Scramble
I was very pleasantly surprised with traction of the Vibrams. I felt sturdy and safe on all the different terrains we encountered that day, including the boulders.

Old Rag - Vibrams At Work
Vibrams – Traction is Great!

I really didn’t notice the lack of ankle support I was so concerned about. I did, however, note that I felt very nimble in the Vibrams. I think they were particularly handy on the rock scramble. The free toes and added flexibility allowed my Vibrams to sneak into small dents in the rock surfaces and help me climb up. My clunky boots wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of such small crevices.

Old Rag- Nicole, Greg, Ryan Rock Scrambling
Vibrams – Added Flexibility and Less Bulk for Rock Scrambles

We got up to the summit with surprising ease. So I would say with the ascent and the rock climb the Vibrams were fabulous. In fact, I preferred them over my Asolo hiking boots.

Old Rag - Vibrams at Summit (Far)
Ryan and Vicky’s Vibrams at Old Rag Summit

Cons – Descent and Stubbed Toes
I did, however, find the descent down the mountain to be uncomfortable. I can’t be certain if that was due to the fact that we were going downhill or just a product of all the mileage we had put in (walking on flat terrain my feet typically get sore around 6 miles in the Vibrams).

What I am certain of is stubbing your toe(s) is entirely unpleasant. I nicked a rock few times as we descended. Each time, as the pain traveled up my body to my brain, I’d instantly covet my boots. But, I’d continue walking, take deep breaths and within moments, I’d be good again. It didn’t take Ryan and I long to adapt and put in place preventive action. You simply have to concentrate even more than normal on every little step down the mountain. So you can expect conversation to falter. 🙂

Will I Do It Again?
Even though I know the risk (not to mention the pain) that can come from the more exposed toes, I’m going with yes! They felt so great on the ascent and the rocks. It would be hard to pass that up.

June 8, 2010 at 8:13 am 8 comments


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