On May 6th, students from Galax Middle School took a trip up 5,946’ to the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. There they had the opportunity to learn about the various flora and fauna that inhabit the mountains’ 16 distinct ecosystems.
Aiming for peak broad-winged hawk migration, the explorers club hit the road to visit Grandfather Mountain Hawk Watch. We arrived not a minute too early! As we were setting up shop on Linville Peak (across the swinging bridge), kettles began to form to the southeast. It was if the hawks were appearing out of thin air, rising from the forest canopy below. We had incredible views looking nearly directly down on the birds. They were taking advantage of the thermals forming on the southeast facing slope of the mountain and soaring right in front of us. They circled up and up in kettles of thirty or more birds until they reached cruising altitude and one by one they would peel off continue their journey south toward Central and South America.
"Many have seen it, but few people know it well. Now come visit the Grandfather Mountain in its complete history, and full stature as one of the world's great mountains. Grandfather Mountain: A Profile travels back to the origins of this living entity, then traces its unique development--geological, natural, prehistoric, and modern humans-- to the present day, where it still stands alone as the grand patriarch of the Blue Ridge Mountains."