Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Rag Once More


It has been my goal to hike Old Rag before I turn 50 for the last couple of years. I’m not 50 yet and a couple weeks ago I met this goal ahead of schedule. I hiked Old Rag several times when I was in my early twenties. I remember it being a tough hike but not something that I had to get in shape for. I’m not 20 anymore so the rules have changed…...

My past trips to Old Rag this year were by way of the fire road. This cuts about 3 miles and 800 feet off the journey. Going up the back way is still a very challenging hike but easy compared to doing a frontal assault. My goal was to do a proper hike and if feels great to have accomplished the goal. The trip stats are 9 miles and 2600 feet of elevation.

I was joined by 3 non-photographer friends. We started at the lower parking lot and made our way up the mountain. As we neared the top the bottlenecks became evident. Old Rag is a very popular hike and rightly so, but there are several places that are narrow or otherwise difficult to transverse. So people would back up at these locations. Also as we neared the top the mountain was covered in clouds. There were many photographic possibilities but a gray sky was a deal killer. Normally I’m quite excited about fog but not in this situation.

While the photo opportunities were somewhat limited, I did come away with the feeling that I can go back and produce some shots that exceed anything I’ve seen shot from this location. I’m sure others have taken spectacular images from this popular peak, it’s just that I have not seen them. That is just as well, when I return I don’t want my vision to be affected by the work of others if possible.

One other interesting tidbit. I had read on Hikingupward.com and some other sites about the Old Rag Dogs. These are local dogs that go up near the top of the mountain and run a scam on the tourists. People react by trying to give them food and water, and otherwise worrying about their general welfare. I heard some ladies exclaim great concern for these dogs. I tried to explain the dogs are local and doing just fine. But to no avail. These pups are running a very successful operation from the look of things.
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