On Wednesday, May 14th, the class set out at 9 in the morning to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of Asheville, and the Mt. Mitchell state park. We traveled to Craggy Gardens Trail, about a mile and a half of steep hiking and plenty of plant life to see. Because the area was so similar to the areas we had explored the previous day, many plants became easily recognizable, like big patches of Solomon’s Plume, Canadian Blackberries, and Rhododendrons galore! It was especially easy to identify plants when signs along the path told you exactly what they were. At the top of the trail, we really learned what the term “grassy bald” meant, actually seeing one for the first time. It was incredible, with the wind whipping every which way and the few trees twisted shapes against the grassy background. It was completely different from the Heath Balds found along the end of the trail, which really were dominated by rhododendrons and azaleas and would be difficult to traverse if it weren’t for our somewhat rocky path. After the trail was a hike up Craggy Pinnacle, which sported a glorious view of the surrounding area. Then, it was off to Mt. Mitchell. When we first arrived at Mt. Mitchell we set up and had lunch. The wind was very strong at this elevation which was above 5000 ft. Once we were done with lunch we walked up to the top of the mountain, the walk up was very steep which caused me to have problems with my breathing especially with the elevation that we were at. But once we got up to the top of Mt. Mitchell the view was breath taking, so losing my breath was all worth it. Before we left Mt.Mitchell we all did the Balsam nature trail. This trail was steep and very rocky. On the trail there were a lot of red trillium, and Frasier fir trees. Once we explored some of Mt. Mitchell we headed back to Christmount. When we arrived back at Christmount we changed into our water shoes then we went to YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. The YMCA has a pond in the back of it. We found red spotted newts, swallow tails, tadpole, and a dragonfly. We had another successful day exploring the parkway, and the pond at YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.
Lillian Sarvey – Biology, Health Sciences
Jasmine Cannady- Biology, Organismal