Blue Ridge

“What Lies Beneath”

“It was a different experience to see the mountains up close.” — Cecilia, Instructional Coach, Warren County Schools

Group Photo at the Stone River.

Group Photo at the Stone River.

Lying belly down on the cliff face with a magnifier to study the rock up close, the Blue Ridge has become an intimate experience for all of us. With the magnifier in hand, we were astounded at what we could discover in a wide open, sunlit cliff face: sparkly crystals, sage green and dark gray lichen, signs of weathering and water channels. Melissa put North Carolina’s geological history into a story that explained how we ended up on this gorgeous, igneous rock face.

Io moth caterpillar

Io moth caterpillar. Photo by Chris Smith.

On our shaky-leg hike down the mountain, we were introduced to the Table Mountain Pine, whose very special pinecones are serotinous — they only open to disperse when burned, so they patiently wait years — decades even — to spread their seeds. Greg shared a quotation by Rachel Carson about many children being fascinated by “inconspicuous things.” This was true for all of us as we took our time exploring this mountain, asking questions, pointing out caterpillars, box turtles, dragonflies and Indigo Buntings.

Cecilia taking a close look at the rocks

Cecilia taking a close look at the rocks

Crayfish hiding halfway under a rock

Crayfish in the Stone River. Photo by Greg Skupien

To culminate our journey below, T.R. Russ, from the NC Wildlife Resource Commission, told us all about the mussels and fish that are in the Roaring River (which, disappointingly, does not include the Rayed Pink Fatmucket, a species of freshwater mussel). We gathered them with a river seine and then crawled the river bottom with snorkels to see what else we could find along the rocks.

Journeys above and below, patience and presence — here’s to day two!