By Sandy Schenck
Today started like our past three days of the session—we met in the Lodge for a big breakfast (biscuits, sausage, oatmeal, fresh fruit, cereal bar) and headed out for mentor hikes. But the afternoon saw campers setting out on a whole new adventure—camp-out!
But mentor hikes first. One group of campers hiked up to beautiful Uncle’s Falls, and we had quite a few more Polar Bears by the end of the morning. They were also on the lookout for critters; one camper spied a tiny salamander, and others saw a huge one lazing by the pool of water at the bottom of the waterfall.
Another group went to the Hemlock Grove, where they talked about how forests regenerate. They looked at live trees and dead trees. Parts of the forest on the Preserve are relatively new, planted after trees were harvested for timber in the first half of the century. The group also talked about local history; you can still find the outline of an old cabin location near the Hemlock Grove and remnants like pottery shards. There’s an old graveyard down there, too, with just three graves, and so we talk about how the life of the forest is intertwined with the lives of the people who have lived in this region, and how we respect the heritage of the valley.
After they spent some time at the Hemlock Grove, they hiked down to the Hemlock Field and played in the Green River. They saw a lot of crawfish—“some big red crawfish; some big, not red crawfish; and some not big, not red crawfish”! Another group who was around the Hemlock Field area played some stalking games, practicing making their way through the forest as quietly as possible. Toward the end of their hike, they had an especially exciting moment when they saw a black widow spider (which they admired from a suitably safe distance)!
After lunch, everyone headed back to their cabins, where they finished packing their back-packs with their personal belongings for the camp-out. The bell rang at about 3:15, and everyone met in the East Field, where they sorted out and packed food and equipment. We had a bit of rain this afternoon, but the storms seem to have passed by us; we’ll have more details about their adventures when they get back tomorrow! (In the meantime, check out a few pictures from today!)