Seventh Grade Ridge to Town Trip
The seventh grade trip is a 3 day, two night, at least 10 mile journey down the length of Deep Creek, Noland Creek, or Forney Creek. The primary focus is the study of lichen populations as air quality indicators. On day one of the trip, students are driven to Clingman’s Dome to begin the hike. Regardless of the chosen trail, the class gathers the first data set at elavations over 5000 feet. The rest of the day consists of hiking down the creek, setting up camp, and cooking dinner. Day two begins with gathering data near the camp site and then hiking further down the creek to another site. Students gather a third data set during the hike and another near camp that night. Day three consists of packing up and hiking the rest of the way out.
Upon returning to school, students organize the data and submit it to the park for use in their ongoing air quality studies.
In addition to providing the valuable science and service learning opportunities, the students come out of the trip with a heightened sense of place. Walking the entire length of any of these creeks gives studentss a good feel for local geography and the amazing variety in the ecosystems encountered at different elevations. The Deep Creek trip also takes them through Bryson Place, Horace Kephart’s final campsite. The Noland Creek trail passes by the ruins of an old mill and a few nice houses that had indoor plumbing. Investigation of any of these sites affords teachers the opportunity to begin introduction of the 8th grade Hazel Creek unit.