This mountainside forest was prime for discovery after the previous days warm rain. As seen in the picture to the right, the mist was heavy as we walked up the small stream to it's source. Our 900 acre campus is a true mountainside ecosystem that is a very fragile environment as it is the upper limits of the watershed source that feeds life to the land for hundreds of miles from the mountains to the sea.
This is a special place hidden in a deep Blue Ridge mountain hide-away deep in the forest which is full with life... and the kids know it. All of our creeks follow the steep mountainous terrain upwards and end with the discovery of a cold trickling spring where underground cracks and shifting rocks determine the changing course of our streams over time. This is prime environment for the birthplace of deep woods life and these creeks have it all. Everyone loves to ramble in the water where a new discovery awaits with every step. Just look at the salamander cuddling an acorn in the picture to the right.
The greatest discovery this morning was found in the pictures shown below. On a gravel bar beside the creek one of the boys discovered a pile of animal bones which was complete with skull, jaws, ribs, and legs. Although the bodily tissue had decayed, this was a relatively recent "end of the trail" for one particular animal. This was definitely a raccoon and looking at the evidence which also included bits of fur, this woodland bandit had most likely expired approximately 2 to 4 months ago while also considering that spring floods hadn't dispersed the evidence left behind.
|From Wood Trails - Dave Brock|
This is the "end of the trail" for one animals life and this final place (sort-of) brings full circle the mystery found in a pile of bones. The complete mystery of that animals life still can't be completely solved but it causes one to pause and to consider that animal and its part in the web of life. The woods are full with lessons about both life and death but you have to get your hands dirty and your feet wet to discover them.
Note: All of the pictures above were taken during the course of the one-hour creek ramble described above.