Old Rag res­cue sto­ries told

Rappahannock News - - NEWS - BY GARY AN­THES

He was a rock climber, and a darn good one, too. But some­thing went ter­ri­bly wrong at 3:20 June 5 near the top of Old Rag Moun­tain.

“He fell 50 feet,” said Andy Ni­chols, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Old Rag Moun­tain Stew­ards. “ We had vol­un­teers on the moun­tain at the time, highly trained in first aid and res­cue and with all their gear. We got the call and were there and had him pack­aged and in a he­li­copter on the way to Inova Fair­fax Hos­pi­tal within three hours. He would have died if we had not been there.”

“We” is six mem­bers of Old Rag Moun­tain Stew­ards, a group of 50 vol­un­teers who work on the moun­tain 22 week­ends a year. “We help peo­ple who get lost, tell peo­ple about the flow­ers and the his­tory and the rocks – ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple,” said Ni­chols, who grew up in Rap­pa­han­nock County and still spends a lot of time here. “We are good stew­ards.”

And good stew­ards are in short sup­ply, it seems. Al­though Old Rag can get sev­eral thou­sand vis­i­tors on a week­end day, the Na­tional Park Ser­vice can’t af­ford to have rangers per­ma­nently on the moun­tain.

Ni­chols will have a lot more to say about the stew­ards and their res­cue and ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties at a pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion and demon­stra­tion at the Sper­ryville Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment Sun­day at 3 p.m. Sun­day, June 26. He will also talk about the Shenan­doah Moun­tain Guides ( SMG). Ni­chols founded and con­tin­ues to lead the Fred­er­ick, Md.based SMG, which of­fers in-the­field train­ing and guid­ing in all kinds of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing ca­noe­ing, cross coun­try ski­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and moun­taineer­ing.

SMG for has a pro­gram for trou­bled youth. The kids who at­tend, mostly of mid­dle school age and from the mid-At­lantic states, come from dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, such as homes where both par­ents are in jail.

“They are kids walk­ing a fine line be­tween the dark and the light,” Ni­chols said.

Re­fresh­ments will be pro­vided by the Rap­pa­han­nock His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, which is spon­sor­ing the pro­gram. At­ten­dance is free, but the non­profit so­ci­ety re­quests a $ 5 do­na­tion.

“Boy and girl scouts would be es­pe­cially ap­pre­cia­tive of the pro­gram, said so­ci­ety pro­gram chair He­len Wil­liams.

The Sper­ryville Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment is lo­cated at 11871 Lee Hwy. For more de­tails, call 540-675-1163.

Photo by Chad Hed­dle­ston

HIGH RIDE: Mem­bers of Old Rag Moun­tain Stew­ards prac­tice a cliff res­cue.

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