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May 21

Day 1 – Hiking and Learning

Today, we explored Christmount. We hiked up to the trail and took note of some of the plant life that grew along the side of the road. We saw several different types of ferns including; lady fern, Christmas fern, and New York fern. We learned that different types of ferns have different types of arrangements from opposite to alternating: opposite, in which the leaves are symmetrical on both sides of the stem; and alternating, in which the plant is not symmetrical on both sides of the stem, but instead there is only one leaf across the stem in each row. We also learned that ferns are edible in the fiddle head stage when it is purplish red and curled up at the top like the handle of a violin. We discussed invasive species such as English ivy and Asian bittersweet. Invasive species are considered so if they displace the natural species, spread/reproduce rapidly, and cause damage.

When we entered the forest, we made sure to overturn rocks and logs that might have critters underneath. We weren’t very successful to begin with; but, further into the hike and higher up the trail, we were able to find a wood roach, a couple of millipedes, a centipede, and a snail. Upon coming to a stream, we spotted a few black snails and some salamanders. We were able to catch and observe a mountain dusky salamander in this stream. We continued along the trail; and, when we reached the halfway point, we heard the rumble of thunder. We continued up the trail and came down the other side, which was primarily a switchback: the arrangement of the trail in a zigzag formation. The purpose of the switchback is to prevent major erosion of the mountain side and mud slides during rain. The path became very narrow while we were descending the mountain. Luckily, there were trees to hold onto to steady oneself as we descended. We didn’t collect as many specimens on the way down as we had going up; and, in addition to the difficult hike down, it had begun to rain. We all made it out of the woods alive and without any issue; and, when we returned “home,” we reviewed the species that we had collected out on the trail. Most of the specimens that we collected were plant species, and most of those ferns.┬áIt was indeed an interesting hike.

Ashley Maamari