8999
Montreat
Mountain Wildflowers and Forest Ecology in Appalachia
Witness Southern Appalachia in full bloom and gain a deeper understanding of forest ecology as you join experts to walk and learn about the natural wonders of this idyllic region.
Program No. 8999RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
629
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Montreat, NC
D
Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center

Activity note: Hotel check-in available by 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. 4:00-5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lower lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In the dining room at the inn, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal with a choice of two entrées, good-for-you vegetables, a complete salad bar, bread and, of course, some yummy desserts. Sweet and unsweetened tea, coffee, milk and water are included.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll then learn a little bit about Montreat and continue getting to know one another. Refreshments and fellowship will follow in the lobby. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure, so settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Climate & Weather, Wild Gardener, Walk Warren Wilson College
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center

Activity note: Walking about 2 – 4 miles total (dependent on ability of the group); approximately 3 hours; flat, easy terrain. Driving approx. 18 miles roundtrip; about ½ hour.

Breakfast: In the dining room at the inn, the breakfast buffet choices change each day, but will incorporate lots of favorites like biscuits and gravy, French toast, pancakes or waffles, eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, grits, oatmeal, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, granola, and baked pastries, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: Our first class of the day with a local expert will focus on the weather. We will discuss how the weather works and how the sun initiates the whole process to create winds, storms and rain. Moving on we’ll talk about climate and weather extremes including floods, droughts, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes, and how to be weather savvy when these events occur. Further, our instructor will teach us some tips on how to read the sky by explaining what certain clouds, rainbows, halos and contrails mean. Finishing up on a technical note, we’ll discuss how meteorologists measure weather and climate by using advances in technology from kites to weather radar and satellites. Lastly, we will cover how to find weather and climate information in the electronic age, as well as study the "greenhouse" effect, El Nino, La Nina, and climate variability. After a mid-morning break for refreshments and fellowship, we'll return to our classroom for a presentation from another local expert, author of "The Wild Gardener." Using his own photography and his knowledge of native plants, our presenter will talk about this popular gardening book (named by the American Horticultural Society, as one of the top 75 garden books of the Twentieth Century) and illustrate the many garden uses of wildflowers that have historically been collected and grown in Western North Carolina.

Lunch: At the inn, we’ll enjoy a buffet with sweet and unsweetened tea, coffee, milk and water included.

Afternoon: We will board the vans for transfer to our afternoon field trip at the Warren Wilson College River Trail. Upon arrival, we’ll set out on this flat and maintained trail that runs along the picturesque and peaceful Swannanoa River. We will also hike through a portion of the Warren Wilson College campus, which is an agricultural college with a lot of farm fields surrounding it. There is a very nice area of large rocks where we can listen to the burbling sounds of the river. Don't forget your camera! Both of our leaders are expert photographers and can give you tips on capturing the beautiful sights of an Appalachian Spring!

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: Local performers will join us at the inn for an evening program featuring some of the classic mountain activities local folks take part in for some fun. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. You may wish to play some cards or games or just relax and watch television in the main lobby.

DAY
3
NC Arboretum, Peter Gentling's Garden
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center

Activity note: Walking a total of up to 3 miles throughout the day; plenty of places to sit and rest; combination of paved paths and dirt/rock trails with roots at the Arboretum. Driving approx. 26 miles one way; about 1.5 hours roundtrip.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin by setting out via vans to the NC Arboretum where a local expert, as someone who has been cultivating connections between people and plants for 25 years, will lead us on a walking field trip through some of the 434-acre public gardens located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest the grounds. (The bonsai display is always a favorite.) Our visit to the Arboretum will allow us to experience a part of the legacy of Frederick Law Olmstead, “the father of American Landscape Architecture.” Developed on property that was originally owned by George Vanderbilt and part of the Biltmore Estate, the arboretum is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Lunch: At the Arboretum, we’ll have boxed lunches featuring sandwiches, a piece of fruit, chips and a cookie that we will take with us from the inn in the morning.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll return to the vans and drive about 30 minutes to Peter Gentling's Garden in Asheville. Up on Town Mountain Road and overlooking the city of Asheville below, Peter Gentling, a retired surgeon, has created a most beautiful garden only a few miles from Asheville's Town Hall. Mixing a bit of Japanese garden philosophy with a host of native plants and wildflowers, all originally at home in Western North Carolina, this garden is full of bloom from spring to fall and is a must for some great garden photography. We’ll then return to the inn.

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: After our busy today, we’ll relax and enjoy an evening of entertainment with either a storyteller or a musician.

DAY
4
Wildflower & Plant Communities, 2 Walks, Montreat Wilderness
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles total (1 morning, 2 afternoon); approx. 1 – 2 hours each; mainly flat path, some ups and downs, some stairs in the morning; some short strenuous sections in the afternoon, slow pace with breaks to rest.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Our morning will begin with a class wildflowers and plant communities and continue with practical knowledge regarding how to use field guides. Both led by a local expert, we will focus on descriptions of the ecology and structures of plant communities with emphasis on the characteristics of various Southern Appalachian community types and their native wildflowers. As we engage in discussion of plant habitats, micro climates, community succession and influences of disturbances on community composition, we will also look at extensive photo accompaniments for each environment. Next, we’ll continue with an overview presenting the layers of information contained within the various basic, intermediate, and advanced field guides available for use in wildflower identification. The pros and cons of each type of field guide will be discussed, plus we’ll see examples of some general identification methods that researchers use, from the simple to advanced "keying" methods. Around mid-morning, we'll have a break for refreshments and fellowship and, following the break, we will explore Elizabeth's Path, which is a lovely trail that runs along the creek by Assembly Drive. We’ll drive down to the gate and walk back to the inn winding through trees and rhododendron until we come upon the Native Plant Garden, a space that was reclaimed from an area that used to have many invasive plants. Along the way, we’ll also see the native wildflower plantings in the Memorial Garden and on the nature trail.

Lunch: Inn buffet.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we’ll set out for a wildflower walk with our local expert along Lookout Mountain Trail. As we go at a comfortably slow pace hiking up the lower part of Lookout Mountain, we will stop to look at and identify wildflowers on before exploring a section of the old, historic Mt. Mitchell Railroad bed from the 1920's. Anyone who does not wish to hike is welcome to relax on their own.

Dinner: Inn buffet.

Evening: At the inn with our local expert, we’ll explore the story of the Montreat’s wilderness through a documentary video showing the history of the Montreat cove and the efforts made by the residents and the Conference Center to preserve the wilderness in Montreat over the years. Emphasis will be on the role of passionate individuals, institutions, and concerned citizens in pursuing environmental protections for over 2,400 acres of the Montreat wilderness. A short discussion will follow the video.

DAY
5
Forest Ecology, Mountain Formation, Mountains to Sea Trail
Montreat, NC
B,L,D
Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles; about 2 hours; wooded hiking trail with some rocks, roots, uneven terrain. Moderate pace and difficulty.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: Our first class of the morning will focus on mountain formations with a local expert. After a mid-morning break for some refreshments and fellowship, we'll return to the classroom with our local expert for a presentation on forest ecology.

Lunch: Inn buffet.

Afternoon: We’ll then board our vans for a field trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Mountains to Sea Trail. Upon arrival, the group will divide into two, each with a leader and a sweep as we walk along keeping an eye out for unique plant life. The Mountains to Sea Trail is a simple, narrow footpath stretching almost 1,000 miles across North Carolina from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks. Our groups will start a few minutes apart so everyone will be able to hear commentary. We’ll then return to the inn.

Dinner: Inn buffet. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: For our last evening program, we’ll enjoy a special performance.

DAY
6
Asheville’s Botanical Gardens, Program Concludes
Montreat, NC
B,L

Activity note: Inn check-out by 11:00 a.m. Walking about ½ mile with stops; approx. 2 hours at Gardens; dirt/rock trails with roots but an easy walk with no inclines. Driving approx. 22 miles, one way; about 1 hour total round trip.

Breakfast: Inn buffet.

Morning: We’ll then transfer for a field trip to the Botanical Gardens located on the northwest end of Asheville where they have over 600 species native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. The highlight of the week for many of our Road Scholar participants, the visit will allow us to see many species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, vines, grasses and sedges. A variety of habitats allow wonderful niches for a variety of plants. The Garden is also a refuge to over 50 different species that are considered endangered, uncommon or rare. As stated on their website, “Such species include Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata), Broad-leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis latifolia), French Broad Heartleaf (Hexastylis rhombiformis) and Pale Yellow Trillium (Trillium discolor).” At the end of our exploration, we’ll return to the inn and join for a brief closing program where we’ll talk about our week together before check-out and lunch. For those who wish to leave directly from the Botanical Gardens, boxed lunches will be provided.

Lunch: Inn buffet. This concludes our program.

Afternoon: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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