May 21

Day 1 – The Adventure Begins

Who knew biology could be such an adventure?¬†When I woke up at 6:30 am this morning to get ready to get on the van, I sure didn’t; but, at 8 am when my ten classmates and I loaded up the vans, started talking and laughing, I knew I was in for a good time. Just the ride to Black Mountain, NC, was fun! We made good time, stopping to eat in Statesville around 11:15 am, which was cool for me because my best friend just moved there and I’d never seen that town before.

Now it’s 9 pm, and the day is finally over (I say finally because I’m so tired!). As soon as we arrived, we unloaded the vans, unpacked our bags, and went straight outside to explore our new surroundings. Erika and I went straight down to the creek beside our lodge, and I caught a salamander! We named him Soloman but then changed the name to Sally because I think it’s a girl. Anyway, then Dr.Carpenter and Dr. Basinger came back to the lodge to start our first hike. We started at Christmount and saw hardwoods and pine trees. The weather was beautiful in the mid 70s, with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds just a little. We took the Blue Ridge all the way to the Azalea Trail that, then, took us back to our lodge. The trail was long, winding and steep! I’m a college athlete, and it was a little workout walking up and around and down the trails; but I had so much fun.

We learned about so many plants today: the great rhododendron, Fraser magnolia, jack-in-the-pulpit, daylily, mountain laurel, sour wood, white clover, ivy, Asian bittersweet, eastern hemlock, rag wort, Indian cucumber root, maiden hair fern, rattlesnake fern, lady fern, New York fern, and a Christmas fern. As we talked about these plants, we even tasted some of the edible ones (only when Dr. Basinger said it was okay, of course!). We were turning over logs and looking under rocks for critters and creatures and found some of those, too – a wood roach, a centipede, a millipede and a snail.

After the Blue Ridge, we turned right onto the Azalea Trail and started our journey back to the lodge. We saw a broad beech fern, umbrella magnolia, a chesnut tree, and a goatsbeard; but we weren’t on this trail very long because it started to thunder very loudly, and we walked a lot faster back to the lodge, just barely avoiding the rain. All in all, it was so much fun! I hope you enjoy this blog and continue to check in because we will be posting new blogs every night that we’re here.

Taylor Parrish