Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yes mom and dad, we are getting enough sleep!

Finally, today we were able to catch up on some much needed rest. It was the first day we could naturally sleep in, so a majority of us slept through breakfast. This gave us the perfect excuse to have a great brunch at Stirlings. We were then able to explore the domain, which is seemingly endless. After dinner, the real fun began. At around 5:30pm we made our way out to a beautiful hiking trail named Fiery Gizzard. This trail was a nice hike compared to our past adventures down to Solomon's temple which left us mentally and physically fatigued.

After about a 25 minute hike we made it to a seemingly picturesque swimming hole. It was freezing cold, but it felt amazing after the hike. We found crawfish, spiders, and an arsenal of small critters. I'm not sure if it was the ice cold water, or the vivid coloring of the landscape around us, but something about that area created a place of peace and serenity.

We swam for a while, and as everyone was getting tired we began our trek back up the mountain. Normally the hike back is always the worst, but in this case it was very enjoyable. We did a little bit of service to the environment, and picked up trash we found along the way. As everyone says, leave no trace. Finally, we made it to the vans; just as the last light was fading over the horizon. Lastly, no journey would be complete without a stop at Sonic. Overall, today was a wonderfully chill day. Everyone was able to regain their energy in preparation for the week to come.

Savoring the friendships

It's the end of the first week and so far, things have gone well at Sewanee. Today was mostly a day of relaxation, but we did make room for some good hiking and swimming. We hiked the Fiery Gizzard trail and while it was somewhat tiring, the swimming was nice and refreshing. After our hike, we stopped at Sonic, where we were treated to some delicious drinks. Everyone at the camp seems to get along great. At night, people go to Sterling's and hang out. I'm going miss everyone when it's time to leave.


Friday, June 29, 2012

And now a word from our poets

The bloodiest day on record… Bicycle crashes, Yellow jacket stings, Somebody scraped their knees, and it still remained a scorching day. A daunting/ steep hike resulted in a glorious sight. Solomon’s Temple –a flow stone cave- what a magnificent sight it was. Ended our strife of the day with a view from Greenview with stars delight…

Emma and Zach

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yellow Boy

I learned about filtering water today. We used activated carbon particles to pull iron particulates out of the "Yellow Boy" water. "Yellow Boy" is created in areas close to abandoned coal mines, water and oxygen can more easily access the coal which run into nearby streams and lakes. The "Yellow Boy" is simply a redish-brown color film of Iron Hydroxide that covers the bottoms of the waterways.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Early morning light

It's only day three at Sewanee but I have already learned and experienced so many new and interesting things. Today, like every other day, was packed with engaging activities. With Dr Haskell, students ventured into the forest to observe the birds of the forest in the early morning light. We learned about some of the behaviors and songs of the birds we encountered. After breakfast,Group B headed to the low ropes course where relationships and trust between the campers were tested, and increased, by team building exercises such as the "spider web" and the "trust fall". Later, we had a chance to scale an exposed rock face on the Domain. Though climbing skill levels varied, and some fear was involved, everyone enjoyed the satisfaction of reaching the top of the rock face. Overall, today was another awesome day at SEI learning and participating in intriguing activities.


Pushing boundaries

Today we went bird watching, completed the low ropes course, rock climbed, listened to a presentation on amber fossilization, and watched The Chronicle at the Sewanee movie theater.
This morning, led by Doctor Haskell, we learned that bird and tree identification is not determined by sight alone, and that sound is an important part of the environmental makeup, and then later learned through Dr. Knoll that this environmental complex is not temporary; the actions and interactions in this complex can then be preserved through time through different ways of fossilization, one of them being through amber.

Outside of the classroom, we pushed boundaries through group activities that required trust and teamwork and continued pushing these boundaries individually through rock climbing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lessons to learn

Today on my adventure I did many things. My first adventure was a early morning bird watch. I learned that many different types of birds have their own little song that they sing. I also learned about different bird species and their habitats. One really important thing that I learned in the bird watch is soundscape. Soundscape is a combination of sounds that interact with the environment. These sounds can be birds chirping, wind blowing, cars moving or even people walking or talking. I found this quite amazing. My second journey was a low ropes course, a team building activity. We had to help each other cross the bouncy, yet sturdy wire. This showed me that team work is very important in the environment. My last journey was habitats of the domain. I learned that Sewanee is in a stage 2 drought, Which causes soil to dry up and trees to lose their nutrients. We also looked at certain sites and made a scientific hypothesis on why these sites were in the condition they were in. We hiked to the top of Piney Point and saw the mountains and the beautiful horizon. We searched for salamanders and learned how they store their eggs and mate. We observed a pond with crawfish, butterflies and many other different creatures. Today was the best day of my journey here at Sewanee so far, but there are many more lessons to come that i am excited to learn about.


Getting a feel for the Domain

Today, my group took two hikes on the Domain. On the morning hike, we learned about the different ecosystems on the plateau and in the coves, the different plants life and how water affects the biodiversity. We visited sandcrops with endangered species, hiked to ephemeral ponds, stood on Piney
Point, found a red salamander, and sat on the rocks of a small creek. On the afternoon hike, we learned about the history of why people settled here i.e. coal, shelter, trees, water. As we hiked down Shakerag Hollow, we went into a coal mine shaft, bouldered massive rocks, sat on Green's Point, and talked about the founding of the University of the South. After dinner, everyone made a short trip to CVS, and then, to Sonic where everyone bought shakes, drinks, or blasts. With the sun setting, we sat on the grass in front of the colossal white cross end our second day at SEI.

Hiking Extravaganza!

I am sitting in my room with my roommate and the girls across the hall, waiting to go to dinner and later to go to CVS for snacks and anything else we might need, so I guess this is an appropriate time to write this. Anyway, today was a hiking extravaganza. Group B (the group I’m in) first set out with Dr. Jon Evans on a biodiversity tour of the Domain. This was by far the most interesting thing we have done so far. We hiked to Piney Point, which is a cliff with beautiful views of Shakerag Hollow and other parts of Tennessee nearby. Along the way, we stopped to talk about several places, and Dr. Evans split the group into smaller groups so that we could hypothesize what we thought happened at each of the sites that we stopped. It was awesome to FINALLY get to discuss environmental topics, because the first few days we mostly discussed the history of the University of the South. By the time we got back to campus, everyone was starving, so we ate lunch.

Soon it was time for the second field session of the day. We went on another hike with Dr. John Willis. While a lot of people were tired, it was still fun to get to see even more of the landscape. The hills weren’t as bad as I expected, but I guess being from California, I am used to crazy mountain slopes that we hike up and some of the other people aren’t.

Overall, it was an exciting (and tiring) day and I hope we do more environmental science related things in the days to come!!


Monday, June 25, 2012

A little history lesson

Dr.Willis taught us about the history of the land prior to the founding to Sewanee. On our hike we visited locations where native Americans had taken shelter and a coal mine shaft from the 19th century. Dr.Willis also pointed out multiple natural springs which were the main water sources of Sewanee for many years. At the end of the hike we visited a replica of Sewanee's corner stone and learned how the civil war altered the building of the school.


The start of things

This morning Group B went Geocaching, kind of like a scavenger hunt using mini-hints and a GPS. We paired up, got on bikes, and explored the campus looking for different items all over campus. Some of the hiding places were really hard, but I feel like we really got a good feel for the campus. Group A got to walk around with a professor who likes to be called "Smith." We got to excavate a historic site that was about to be torn down, and we found a few old nails, which was surprisingly really exciting. When Group B excavated later in the day, Smith said that the nail we found might be the oldest nail found on the site yet. We got Popsicles afterwards, which was really nice because it was so hot outside.

After dinner, we had Dr. Haskell talk about his book "The Forest Unseen." I think everyone enjoyed listening to him speak as we sat outside as the sun was setting. After our busy day, a few of us dropped by the near by coffee house and hung outside chatting about everything under the sun. Others went out to the gym and had a good workout. I can't believe that it's only day one! I can't wait for the rest of the week!