Spending five days in Black Mountain, N.C., for the field biology course gave our class hands-on experience in identifying organisms and plants. It was almost the same schedule each day. We ate breakfast, had a pre-trip meeting, and then set out for our adventures of the day. Each day we were able to collect specimens to take back to the cabin that would be reviewed for the final exam. Plants were collected as well as animals that were small enough to fit into the aquariums, petri dishes, or ziplock bags. At the end of each day, we reviewed what we had captured and got answers to any questions we had.
On the first day, we were able to view plants and animals found at lower elevations. These environments included areas around the Christmount Center, where we were staying. We also identified organisms in the creek and surrounding the creek.
The next day, we explored areas of elevation ranging from 2,100 ft. to 5,720 ft. We viewed many species of plants while walking on the trails. A black bear and cub crossed the road in front of our van. We saw multiple types of environments including a hardwood cove and an old bog.
On the third day, we traveled through the Blue Ridge Parkway making multiple stops. We were able to view a grassy bald and a heath bald.
The fourth day took us to ponds in order to collect invertebrates and whatever else we could find. The weather was very rainy, but it was a great day to find newts in the pond. We were able to go to the Western North Carolina Nature Center and gain more information about American Chestnuts and the history of animals. We also completed night observations in order to gain more knowledge by using our other senses to learn about nature.
On the fifth day, we traveled through trails to review our material for the final. We collected new specimens as we walked, also. We collected a red eft, fish, and nymphs that we had looked for previously. The rest of the night, we reviewed what we had learned and perfected our notebooks. We studied very hard for the final Saturday morning. We took the final, packed our things, cleaned up, and headed back to Wilson, N.C.
The trip for the five days here in Black Mountain, N.C., was a great experience. It was great to see nature in a way that we had not seen before. This trip was memorable and was very different when compared to my normal mountain trip with my family. Hiking was very different because walking on the edge of steep trails was tougher than I thought it would be. Walking up the trails to great heights was a new experience that I enjoyed. I could not have learned all these organisms as quickly as I did if I had been sitting in a classroom. There were parts of the trip that seemed difficult because we could not find what we were looking for, such as a snake. Seeing the bear and her cub cross in front of our van was my favorite part of the trip. The weather becoming colder and rainy on the fourth day was my least favorite part of the trip; and, as we all learned, everything in nature cannot always be controlled.