The Last One: Thank You Haw River

Hello and welcome back to my blog. This will be my last blog post for this class, but I hope to continue to visit the park, even after this class ends. For this last blog post, I hope to finish reflecting on my most recent visit to Haw River State Park and then reflect on my experience as a whole, with this particular project and with this class.

Continuing on my trek along the Piedmont Loop Trail, I walk along the guided path before coming upon a tree. The tree was right in front of me. Literally. It laid across the trail so perfectly, like it was just lying down to take a quick nap. I suppose the tree had been there for a while, but I also wondered why it had not been moved out of the way of the trail. I mean, it was a pretty grand impediment that caused you to stray from the original path and follow a new, less-traveled one. Has any visitor told anyone about this tree? Would this be considered a safety hazard? Has the administration at Haw River State Park just decided to not do anything about it? As I look at this tree, thousands of questions pop into my head all at the same time. Then I pause, and remember again the true purpose of nature. It’s not here to please us or to be the perfect path to get us from one spot to another. It is here to provide us with necessities, such as water and oxygen. Occasionally, nature creates exquisite scenes that are interesting to capture and photograph, so we can look back at the pictures and always appreciate nature for all that it is.

The tree that fell across the path. Photo by: Me

After this minor inconvenience, I carry on with my walk around the park. Most of the time, everything looks the same. There are similar looking trees with similar looking leaves and I hear the same chorus of birds and grasshoppers come together. But occasionally I see a different tree, like this one I discovered with some interesting leaves that point downwards (I searched a while for the name of the tree but just could not find it). And I also see different colored trees. Aside from the typical green trees and the surprising redbud I found earlier, I also stumbled upon a white tree, which I later discovered was a flowering dogwood, a Cornus florida. Once again, I was drawn to this unique tree and took another opportunity to appreciate the diversity of nature. I was mesmerized by the change of this park over the 3 short months I have been visiting.

A close-up view of the flowering dogwood, the state flower of North Carolina!

At the beginning of this project, I did not know what to expect. But now, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I have grown and how much I have learned about myself and about nature. I now have a greater appreciation for nature and all that it provides for us. This is the first time in a while that I have felt a strong connection to nature. Being on a campus like Guilford’s, where there are trees and other signs of nature all around, and where we can actually go outside to take it all in, has also helped me notice and appreciate nature more. Thank you, Jim, for challenging me to step outside of my comfort zone and allowing me to grow as a writer. To end this journey, I want to share two pictures, taken 30 minutes apart, from each side of the lake located at Haw River State Park. They show just how important perspective is and that sometimes you just need to look at things from a different point of view:)

p.s. I tried to rotate these photos but I could not figure out how to do it without uploading everyone else’s pictures as well. I apologize in advance.

One Last Trip: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of this blog post about my last visit to Haw River State Park. In the last blog post, I discussed the changes I noticed from the previous time I visited, particularly relating to the season change. In this one, I will continue to recount my observations and share new information I learned.

As I continue to walk past the bright new purple tree I had just seen, I notice the sounds, or lack thereof, around me in the area. I only hear my feet touch the dirt beneath me as I step one foot after another. And then I hear a choir of grasshoppers, chirping back and forth as if they are conversing with one another. But every time I crouch down to get closer and locate the choir members, the melodious song stops. And I become disappointed as well as frustrated. Why do they all of a sudden stop? Did I interrupt them? I thought I was pretty subtle about it. I back away in hopes that they will start to sing again and I can attempt to find them once more. No luck. So I continue my journey.

I have visited this place multiple times and have yet to come across any wildlife. Except for the occasional squirrel. It flusters me that I have not seen any animals here. I’m not sure why there are not any animals, but maybe I am just not paying attention enough. As I walk, I hear the squirrels leaping through the woods and racing up the trees. I wonder if they know I am here, walking on their territory, invading their habitat.

I walk and walk, looking up above me to observe the great leaves and then in front of me to see the unique composition of bark on the different trunks, and then looking down at the ground below me. For some reason, the ground fascinated me. It changed from a reddish-brown clay to a muddy mixture of dirt and twigs to a blanket of green leaves covering the dirt underneath. As I trek on, the ground changes color. It is no longer just brown and green. Purple flowers, that I assume are coming from the redbud I mentioned earlier, are scattered along the ground as if they were a breadcrumb trail from Hansel and Gretel. But what does the trail of flowers actually lead to? Certainly not to their home or to a candy cottage. I follow the trail, stumbling upon many different subtle beauties of nature. I notice a patch of grass/moss with heart-shaped leaves, and I stop to reflect to think about love. Love for other people, but also love for nature. I don’t think we take enough time to just stop everything we are doing to reflect and appreciate the little joys around us. Even though the Haw River State Park is only 5 minutes away from my house, I feel like I am on a mini vacation every time I journey over to the park. From this project, I have learned to take more time for myself and make more time for nature.

One Last Trip: Part 1

Hello and welcome back to the blog! I took one last trip to Haw River State Park and wanted to reflect on it a little bit and share with y’all.

I’ve become more and more familiar with this park with each time that I come to visit and explore. Yet, I still am fascinated by the subtle beauty of the place every time I visit. And somehow, I always find something new that catches my eye or I learn something new about the land. This time was no different.

The previous times I have traveled the arduous 2.3 miles from my house to the park, the weather has been mostly unpleasant: cold and sometimes even rainy. Also, I always visited bright and early in the morning. I decided to switch it up for my last trip. I visited close to sunset, close to park closing rather than park opening (8 PM vs. 8 AM). Also, it just so happens that the weather changed from a chilly and dead winter to a warm and alive spring.

With spring in full swing, the Haw River State Park had more visitors and I was no longer the sole explorer of the terrain. It was a pleasant sunny evening while I was there, but a group of middle schoolers (I’m guessing they were in middle school) also decided it was a good day for a field trip. Although they were quite audible at the beginning of my trek, once I traveled further along the Piedmont Loop Trail, I felt like I was in my own secluded world again.

I begin to walk down the trail, begin to focus on my surroundings, begin to forget about everything else. As I walk, all I see around me are trees upon trees upon trees, like a sea of green has engulfed me. Then, all of a sudden, I notice a pop of color. A bright purple tree (which I later found out is a redbud, I think) sticks out like a sore (but beautiful) thumb amongst the sea of brown trunks and green leaves. It was nice to finally view some new and unique trees, aside from the typical oaks and pines I had seen from my previous trips. I was not expecting to see anything quite like this on the trail, so I was very surprised and ecstatic to observe the colorful side of nature.

A (sideways) view of the redbud tree at Haw River State Park. Photo by: Me

I walked up closer to the purple tree to get a closer look and take a photo of the magnificent tree. Then I heard a faint “buzz” sound. I started to look closer and closer when I finally realized the noise was coming from a group of bees crowding around the tree. I began to play a game of hide and seek with the insects, trying to find them crouched behind the individual flowers. Attempting to capture a photo of them with my zoomed-in camera was a strenuous task, and I realized I should not always be trying to capture the perfect moment on my phone. It’s impossible. Nature is not there to be my photogenic model. I don’t think you can see the bee in the photo I got. And if you can, it’s really blurry. So enjoy my good photography skills:)

A close-up view of the redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, with a bee flying near the flowers. Photo by: Me

This is just one of the many lessons I have learned throughout this project. In the next blog post, I will continue my journey around the park, sharing more information I learned and more reflections.

Toodles!

Issues Affecting the Haw

My last blog post was more about myself and my experience with nature growing up, but this blog entry will be more focused on the Haw River and potential threats to it. Although this will not focus on the Haw River State Park directly, these issues could disrupt the Haw River altogether, so I still believe it is important to discuss.

(Note: most of the information found is from hawriver.org, a site from the Haw River Assembly that has been “defending the river since 1982.”)

A recent and apparent threat to the Haw River is the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Southgate extension that is supposed to go through Rockingham and Alamance Counties. The pipeline begins in West Virginia and is being used to transport fracked gas from the Mountain State to neighboring Virginia; and the extension, if approved, would send the pipeline into central North Carolina.

The pipeline would mostly dwell in the Haw River watershed, passing through Alamance and Rockingham Counties. This pipeline, if built, will run adjacent to the Haw River and cut into essential streams and tributaries of the river. In addition, the grand pipeline could be up to two feet in diameter. Not only is the river being affected, but the natural land around it would also be harmed. There is a picture on the Haw River website of an old oak tree that is threatened by the MVP extension. Additionally, up to 100 feet of other people’s property surrounding the pipeline path must be used during construction; up to 50 feet of people’s property would be taken permanently. Businesses and companies associated with the MVP wish to begin construction in 2020.

So why is this pipeline such a big issue?

Well, first of all, fracking is a big controversial issue in and of itself. I will not dive too deep into this particular issue because it is not as relevant to the river as other issues, but I will discuss some basics. Commonly known as fracking, hydraulic fracturing is the process in which gas is extracted from shale rock formations using high-pressure fluids to crack the formations. There are many consequences to fracking, including an increased chance of earthquakes and pollution of the drinking water. These fracking operations require a lot of water, a lot of water that could be useful in other situations some deem more important. Also, it is difficult and expensive to control leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, which contributes to the warming of the earth.

Regarding the river, this pipeline poses a huge threat. During the easement process, trees and other wildlife must be cleared from the land, exposing the soil to the possibility of erosion and sedimentation in the streams. This sedimentation is harmful not only because it carries chemicals throughout the river, but it also destroys the sensitive habitats located in the streams. To lay the ditch lines, the streams will be greatly disturbed, either dammed up and rerouted or drilled through. Either way, these processes will destroy habitats all along the Haw River, not just in the immediate area of Rockingham and Alamance Counties. Lastly, there are many concerns about leaks of gases and other materials, which could ruin water quality for those that rely on the river as a drinking source.

This is all for today’s entry. Until next time!

Growing Up with Nature

Hello, welcome back to my blog. Long time, no see. I have been working on some other important matters. But I am back and for this blog post, I will share a little bit about my experience with nature growing up, and how it has affected my relationship with nature today.

Growing up, like most other children, I was an especially curious kid. Whether it be whipping open drawers all over the house, tearing into my brother’s vast CD and magazine collection, or diving into the refrigerator in search of various foods and condiments, I was always exploring something new whilst creating a massive mess. As a child, I was not nature’s biggest fan, but I did enjoy occasionally playing outside, especially when visiting my Granny and my cousins in Durham, North Carolina. I grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, nestled between the Appalachian range to the west and the Coastal Plain region to the east. And let me tell you, there is not much here. We did not have many monumental mountains or beautiful beaches that were readily accessible to look at and explore. So, we had to make do with what we had: always-changing weather.

The thing I remember most about growing up in North Carolina (and it’s still true to this day) is the distinct seasons. I enjoyed competing with my family to catch the most snowflakes on our tongues or to create the best snowman in the winter. In the spring, I tried to capture and raise creepy caterpillars into bewitching butterflies, marveling at the magic of metamorphosis. As summer approached, I spent my time playing hide-and-seek tag, slyly navigating through the forest of oak trees like an Eastern gray squirrel trying to escape from a red-tailed hawk. During autumn, I laboriously gathered all the leaves together in the backyard and realized all my hard work was paid off as I leaped into the air and landed softly on the bed of leaves. No matter the weather, I was curious about all the different pieces that made up the largest and most intricate puzzle: nature.

Come middle school, technology was on the rise and it was all everyone wanted. As a gift for graduating fifth grade and to prove my maturity, I received an iPhone. Although I was really excited to have a phone, I was unaware of the consequences it would have on my relationship with nature. In middle school, I was more concerned about my wi-fi connection than my nature connection. I lost any relationship I had once created with the outside world in elementary school and became less interested in all the factoids about the different plants and animals that thrived in certain habitats. On the rare occasion that I did go outside, I was always more focused on getting the perfect picture of the peonies in the garden rather than simply appreciating the beauty of the flower. My relationship with nature was always changing, but sometimes not for the better.

I do remember, however, taking a trip to this park close to our school in 6th grade. We did team building activities there, but we also learned more information about the animals that dwelled there and how to identify them by using a dichotomous key. Additionally, we learned about water quality and other important topics surrounding environmental science. That park happened to be Haw River State Park, the same one I would visit nearly 5 years later. Although I do not remember all the specific animals or all of the different findings regarding water quality, the field trip planted a seed deep down that would grow to be a rekindled interest in nature that would come alive again in the future, when I least expected it.

Pi Day Adventures Part 2: Expectations vs. Reality

Hello, I am back with another blog post about my Haw River State Park adventures! This is a continuation of my previous blog post, so I highly recommend reading that post and then come back to read this one! To give a quick recap, I discussed the many trails located within the state park and my journey along part of the Piedmont Loop Trail. This trail connects to the Wetlands Boardwalk, which leads to the central focus of the whole park: the Haw River! I was very excited and anxious to finally view the river I had been researching lots about.

Expectations. They can be beneficial, but they can also be harmful. We encounter and deal with expectations every day. We may have high expectations of a certain course or certain teacher because of what other students have said. We may have good expectations of particular places or experiences because of photos we have seen. We may have impractical expectations of celebrities or influencers online because of what they choose to share on the web. And sometimes, well actually a lot of the time, our expectations fail us. The teacher is not as good as you had hoped. The experience turns out to be a big waste of money. A celebrity is part of a huge scandal you never saw coming. Despite people and places letting us down, we continue to have these unrealistic expectations. It happens in nature too. We have these expectations that nature should be beautiful or pleasing to the eye; nature should provide us with something useful; etc. But sometimes, nature is just nature. And that is all we should expect nature to be. I had a tough time grappling with this during my trip to the park.  

I had big expectations for the Haw River. It’s over 100 miles long and stretches over 4 different counties. Also, it has an extensive history that I found very fascinating, from its origins with Native Americans to its housing of textile mills to its likely use as a landmark for the Underground Railroad. Additionally, Haw River State Park was noted for its rich diversity in its unique wetlands and large beaver dam population. Even the kind woman at the front desk said the Haw River was a must-see for all guests. It felt like everyone was hyping up the river, including myself. But boy was I underwhelmed when I walked down the boardwalk to view the river for the first time.

I don’t mean to discredit the Haw River, but these are my honest opinions and feelings. But it was wrong of me to have such high expectations of it. However, I must admit that I only was able to see a very small portion of the river. When I first saw the river, it just looked like a plain old river. It had the basic qualities of a river: it had water and that water moved. After my initial letdown and disappointment, I decided to refocus and look at the river in a different way. I walked to see the river as far to my right and left as I could. I wanted to get different viewpoints of the river; I wanted to look at it from up close and from far away. Maybe after viewing it in different ways, I hoped, I would find new beauties in the river and appreciate it in a different way. I began to notice the water move down the water quietly but rapidly. I began to notice the sounds of the water rushing past the different mediums, the different woods, the different trees. I began to notice little bugs soaring across the water as if they were ice skating.

I began to appreciate nature for what it was, not what I wanted it to be.

My Pi Day Adventures at Haw River!

It’s March 14th! Pi day! I know maybe 4 digits of pi, but that is beside the point because today I visited Haw River State Park again. This time, I had done research beforehand and had a better idea of the park and its surroundings. I visited the information desk to check in and received a guide that had additional information about the park and a map. From there, I created a game plan. Sort of. My goal for today was to actually visit and look at the Haw River. I promise I will discuss the river eventually, but maybe not in this exact blog post;) After researching the river and learning many interesting facts about it, I was thrilled to see it in person.

There are three main trails at Haw River State Park that guide visitors through the sights and sounds of the park. The Great Blue Heron Loop Trail is part of the Iron Ore Belt Access and is located on the Church Street access point of the park. For the entrance off of Spearman Road (which is off of Highway 150), there are more trails and it houses the visitor center, conference center, and other lodgings. Visitors can choose the brief Lake Loop Trail or take the Piedmont Loop Trail and venture off onto the Wetlands Boardwalk and visit the headwaters of the Haw River. I chose the Piedmont Loop-Wetlands trail, mainly because I was so eager to look at what the river had to offer.

As I was walking to the boardwalk, I saw a lot of trees. Again. There seems to be a lot of trees at Haw River State Park. Big trees, little trees, upright trees, fallen trees, tall trees, short trees. For the most part, they were big, tall trees that towered over me. After looking up at all the trees, you start to feel really, really small and almost insignificant. It seems that they are living in their own world and we don’t matter to them.

An overhead view of the trees. The blue sky is the background for this photo that features the bare branches of the trees intertwined to look like a web.
View of the trees overhead on the Piedmont Loop Trail. Photo by: Me

After all the storms from this past autumn, there is a large presence of fallen trees all around North Carolina, and Haw River is no exception. I have come across so many fallen trees it seems that there are as many trees laying horizontal as there are trees standing vertical. One tree I viewed was particularly interesting. I felt that it really embodied what we discussed in class about the branches of trees growing together to look like the roots hiding beneath the ground. When I first glanced at the collapsed tree, I was unable to discern which part of the tree was the top with all the branches and which was the bottom containing the roots. After close inspection, I discovered which is which, but the mystery of the tree still sticks with me. Nature is very mysterious, isn’t it? There are lots about nature that we do not know. Throughout this project, I hope to discover some of the many mysteries of nature, but I know some things will always remain mysterious, and that is okay with me.

A forest of tall trees standing upright with one tree laying horizontal, with branches sticking out of one side and roots visible on the right side.
View of the fallen tree along the Piedmont Loop Trail at Haw River State Park. Photo by: Me

It was problematic for me to identify the exact names of the trees because of their immense size, making it difficult to closely inspect the trees. Additionally, the trees right now are bare and have not grown their leaves yet this spring, adding to the difficulty of identifying the trees. But trust me, when spring rolls around and the leaves grow in, there will be a blog post about the trees. I tried to use the VTree app that was recommended in class, but I had issues trying to correctly identify the plant. Maybe I wasn’t quite the best at describing the peculiar aspects of the tree, like the thickness of the leaf, the shape of the leaf, the placement of the leaves, and more. Although I was unable to accurately identify the plants, concentrating on the individual details of them helped me notice the differences between the flora and actually appreciate even the smallest distinctions. It was so interesting for me to look at all the little pieces that make up the big picture of nature. Sometimes we just ignore the lowly leaves or basic branches because they might not be as pretty or as photogenic as the flowers, but we should learn to appreciate nature for all it has to offer, from the picturesque petals to the life-providing leaves. Closely inspecting the so-called “boring” aspects of nature helped me understand the inner workings of nature and appreciate it even more.

Picture of the ground at a park with different colored leaves and spikey balls. There are also small twigs among the green leaves.
Close-up photo of some of the leaves along the trail. Photo by: Me

The next blog post will be somewhat of a continuation of this one; I will talk about the rest of my day at Haw River. I will focus on expectations vs realities in nature, and my experience with this, especially my encounter with meeting the Haw River for the first time.

Toodles!

The History of Haw River: How the River and the Park Came to Be

1,429 acres. Now that’s a lot of acres. Established in 2005, Haw River State Park is a grand state park located in Guilford and Rockingham counties of North Carolina in the Piedmont region. I will discuss the physical features of the park later, but for now, I want to discuss the human history of the river and of the park.

The Haw River has a long and interesting history, dating back to before the colonization of the Americas in the late 15th century. There is archaeological evidence suggesting occupations were practiced in prehistoric times near the Haw River. Additionally, communities have been developing the Piedmont region for a long time. Diseases such as smallpox and war with neighboring communities, among many other reasons, dwindled the numbers of these communities. The Piedmont region has also many strong ties to Native American tribes including the Sioux, Iroquois, and Muskogean.

Europeans’ relationships with the Native Americans had a deep impact on the establishment of the Haw River, specifically its name. Named after the Sissipahau Indians, the Haw River was first coined by English botanist John Lawson. The name seems to have origins in the Eastern Sioux language group. The rest of the settlers in the Piedmont varied as well, from Quakers of Pennsylvania to German and Scots-Irish descendants.

The Haw River is also believed to have a significant impact in the mining industry, during the Revolutionary War, and with slavery. For almost 200 years, the Ironworks on Troublesome Creek operated and housed furnaces, gristmills, sawmills, and blacksmith shops. Additionally, there is evidence that the area was also mined for its iron ore. Haw River State Park is hosting a community hike coming up on March 23rd called the “Pit Trail Hike” to learn about the “Old Revolutionary War Ore Pits” and its significance to the Piedmont in the late 19th century. I hope to create a whole blog post of my findings from that hike, so be on the lookout for that in late March! During the Revolutionary War, the Ironworks area was a campsite for General Nathaneal Greene of the Continental Army. Because of its proximity to Guilford College and the large presence of Quakers nearby, the Haw River likely played a significant role in the Underground Railroad. Although there is not much documentation about the specific routes of the Underground Railroad, the routes probably passed through the state park and the river most likely served as a guide and landmark.

Over the past 150 years, the land has mainly been used for agricultural land and forest area. In 2000, the conversation began to create a state park in the Piedmont region, focused on the Haw River watershed in Guilford County and Rockingham County. One year later, the Haw River was selected as the location for the park and after another year, the headwaters of the river was chosen as the primary focus for the park because of its aquatic biodiversity and notably large beaver pond population. Beginning in 2003, the process to add Haw River State Park to official state parks system launched, in addition to the first acquisitions of land. In the following years, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation purchased other buildings, such as the currently-named Summit Environmental Education Center, to add to the park and increase its appeal to the general public. Haw River is a unique state park that serves to educate the general public on environmental stewardship and protect the valuable natural resources housed within the park grounds.

Despite all the good aspects of the park, not everything surrounding the park’s history has been fine and dandy. I plan to do more in-depth research, followed by a blog post with my findings, of the effect of logging and other harmful activities on the areas surrounding Haw River. Additionally, there was a brief conflict in 2007 of whether some of the land surrounding the state park should be used for a golf course instead. It is important to preserve natural resources, and I hope to discover new information while researching these topics.

Toodles!

First Impressions: Part 2

Hello and welcome back to my blog! As mentioned in my previous blog post and as told in the title, this is a part two of my first impressions when I visited Haw River State Park for the first time. I gave background as to why and what and how in the first blog post (and you should read that one first), so we are just gonna dive right into more of my first impressions of my visit.

Although I did not see very much wildlife for the short time I was at Haw River, I did see a lot of trees. I mean a lot. There were tall trees, short trees, thick trees, thin trees. Some bare trees, some leafy trees. Fallen trees, upright trees.  For the moment you have all been waiting for, I will attempt to describe these trees to you. By the end of this project, I will know their official names and other specifics, but for now, enjoy these descriptions.

Tree 1 (Webby Tree): These kinds of trees were very abundant across the park. They had lots and lots of branches that looked like a spider web and they were very tall. Additionally, some of these trees had those spikey ball things that I would hate to step on barefooted. You know which ones I am talking about, right?

Tree 2 (Green-leafed Tree): Not a very descriptive name, but these trees are difficult to describe. They had green leaves, but not “typical” leaves; the leaves were more hair-like. These trees were mixed in with the Webby Trees.

Tree 3 (Big Lake Trees): These trees were on the side of the lake where the sun rises. There was a huge abundance of them crowded together and they had lots of green leaves, from what I could tell. I assume they were evergreens, but I only know so much about trees.

Tree 4 (White Petal Tree): These trees were some of the tallest trees I had seen at the park. Towards the top of the tree, at the end of the branches, there were “white, petal like looking things on it.” (That came straight from my observation notes.)

Tree 5 (Red Petal Tree): Similar to the White Petal Tree, this tree was tall and located amongnst a mix of other unique trees. However, instead of white petals at the end of the branches, red buds grow out of the branches at the top.

Extra Tree Comments: Not about naming or describing a tree, but I noticed two trees that looked black almost. I will have to investigate this more upon my next visit as to why they look like that. As mentioned, I am no conifer connoisseur, however I have never seen or heard of black trees.

Note: I apologize for the lack of pictures in this particular blog post. I was trying to focus on the actual aspects of nature, not taking pictures of it. And frankly, my camera was not working very well, making it time-consuming and inefficient to take photos. I hope this one photo I got and my vivid descriptions will suffice until next time.

A picture of lots of different trees behind a lake with the sun brightly shining through
Haw River Lakeside View
Photo by: me

Another big aspect of my visit was water. There was a big body of water, what I would assume to be a lake. The water was stagnant and murky–definitely not someplace I would want to swim at. Upon further inspection, the water was in fact moving, ever-so-slightly. There were little ripples and movements within the water. In the lake, two trees had fallen parallel to each other. At first, it looked like a reflection of the trees in the water, but in fact, the trees had fallen oh-so-perfectly in the water.

Back to the earth, to the terrain. There were lots of different levels of terrain: high, low, and even lower. While exploring this “even lower” terrain, I stumbled upon another body of water. This time it was a little creek, if you could call it that. In reality, it looked like it had either lost a lot of water or it was formed by excess rainwater. The water moved a little bit faster than the water of the lake, but it still seemed pretty stagnant. The aquatic life and terrestrial life come together as I witness a fallen tree laid out over the creek. Additionally, I can see the roots exposed from another tree nearby the creek.

To end my exploration, I sit on the edge of the lake, across from the sun. I can feel the heat of the sun, like an extra layer of warmth to comfort me on this chilly February day.

My next mission will be to learn more about the history of Haw River and the scientific names of those trees I described earlier.

First Impressions: Part 1

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Carly and I am just your average joe who happens to be researching the Haw River State Park for a project. I would like to preface this by saying I am no nature expert or wildlife fanatic. But by the end of this project, I would like to be the biggest fan of the Haw River State Park you have ever met. My first blog post (this one!) is going to be my first impressions of visiting the park. Well, technically I visited the park for a field trip about 5 years ago, but we’ll disregard that. The only thing I really know about this park is that it is located about 5 minutes from my house in Browns Summit, NC. I would also like to assume the park is centered on the Haw River, but that’s just a lucky guess.

Just a warning, these first blog posts are not going to be very formal and my descriptions of what I see are not going to be very scientific. This is all about my first thoughts as an amateur adventurer of the Haw River. Although not my brightest idea, I decided to go on a chilly February morning (around 30℉) that also happened to be Valentine’s Day. Additionally, I made the executive decision to not do any prior research and to not use any map upon entering the park. I would go in blind, not knowing what to expect, and just see what path I would go on.

Arriving

The first things I noticed upon my arrival were the sounds, or lack of sounds, at the park. It was very serene and quiet, except for the occasional bird chirping. I heard a chorus of bird sounds, harmonizing with each other. Some of the bird noises sounded like an owl’s “hoo,” while others were higher pitched, more like a “tweet tweet.” The different bird calls come together as though they are having a conversation, and I wonder what they could be talking about. Maybe they’re talking about the weather or what they dreamed about last night.  

Compared to the hustle and bustle of my daily life, time felt as if it moved just a little bit slower at Haw River. I’m able to lose thoughts about everything else going on and focus on my surroundings, focus on my breathing.

As I walk from my car, I hear the sound of my shoes crunching the leaves that lay on the ground. The ground underneath my feet changes as I trek back. From leaves covering the dirt to the pavement of the walkways to the wet, red, muddy clay, they all are composed of different materials but all at one point share a similar purpose: providing me a path to get from one spot to another.

Enjoy this map of the park (hopefully it’s there) to suffice for my lack of photos:)

I know there was not a lot I actually talked about, but this was supposed to be a general introduction with some general reflections from my first visit to Haw River. Don’t worry though, because my next blog post will be part two of my first impressions. In that, I will give my world-renowned descriptions of the various trees I witnessed and provide more detailed information on the other aspects of my visit. Toodles!