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.


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