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May 18

Day 5 – Fauna at the Falls

Today was a great day in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The day started off with a visit to the Western North Carolina Nature Center. This center is home to species native to western North Carolina. The center had many species that we have not been able to see in the wild, such as the timber rattler and the copperhead. The cougar, which is no longer found in North Carolina, can also been viewed at the center. Our trip to the Center was a refreshing change from the strenuous hiking that we have engaged in all week. Our second stop of the day was the Catawba Falls. To get to the falls, we hiked a rugged trail crossing over streams and the Catawba River multiple times. The search for more snakes became a success when the northern water snake made an appearance at the falls. This snake was captured by Dr. Carpenter for our viewing. It was over two feet in length. Although water snakes are known for their aggressive attitudes, this one was very cooperative. Dr. Carpenter was, however, covered in the snakes pungent musk. Species such as crawfish, stone flies, the Dobson fly, and small fish were also examined at the falls. We caught many crawfish this week; however, it was Catawba Falls that produced the first female of the trip! The new species were not the only highlight, but the falls themselves were majestic. The water was clear, and the sounds of the forest were relaxing, making the three-mile round trip well worth it.

Max Evans