On Tuesday, May 14th, we departed Christmount around 8:30 a.m. and headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We made several stops along the way and one of those stops was the Mt. Pisgah trail which was 1 mile long and at an elevation of 5,000 ft. While hiking this trail we found a variety of plants such as painted trillium, lichen, rhododendron, red trillium, and fiddle heads. After hiking the trail, we went to Graveyard Fields where we hiked down to the Yellowstone Waterfall which was a beautiful sight to see. Here we tested the pH of the water and the soil, the temperature of the water, and the dissolved oxygen level. While searching for animals we found northern dusky salamanders, mayflies, stoneflies, and a casemaker¬†caddisfly. After making a quick stop for lunch we headed to Devil’s Courthouse which was a trail that had an elevation of over 5,000 ft. This was a straight up hike that was challenging, but the view from the top was completely worth it. After taking pictures of this beautiful sight, we went to Red Bank Cove where we were able to adventure into the creek and search for more animals. We ended up finding more salamanders, a millipede, and more mayflies and stoneflies. Once we left the cove we made a stop for dinner before our Elk observations. When we arrived at the National Park we saw several female Elk, some that were even pregnant. We learned about different characteristics of the Elk via some volunteers for the National Park. While we were at the park we also visisted the Caldwell House which was built in 1903 and housed Big Brown Bats in its attic. We learned about a fairly new fungal disease called White Nose which affects the tissues of the skin of the bats. It has killed milions of bats and it makes them very weak. While we were exiting the National Park, we saw a lot of wild turkey’s and a few bull’s. It was a really exciting, adventerous day and all of us learned a lot!

Courtney Jernigan- Middle School Science Education

Jessica Eudy- Middle School Science Education