‘We’ll go stretch our legs’

3rd annual Uwharrie Naturalist Weekend takes in natural sights

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery
* Landtrust of Central NC

ELDORADO — Eleven people braved the potential rainfall from Tropical Storm Ana mid-Sunday morning to take advantage of wildlife experts and enjoy a guided nature hike with snakes, frogs, birds and salamanders as featured attractions.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Hikers walk along the trail parallel to the Uwharrie River, starting out at the Low Water Bridge.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Hikers walk along the trail parallel to the Uwharrie River, starting out at the Low Water Bridge.

The rain, well, didn’t — at least not during the 90-minute session along a quiet trail that turned and twisted with the tides of the Uwharrie River within the Low Water Bridge Preserve. The 1,300-acre preserve is owned and managed by the LandTrust of Central NC. The trust is celebrating its 20th year and that some 25,000 acres in a 10-county area that includes Richmond, Anson, Montgomery and Stanly counties. It is situated within the 50,645 acres of the Uwharrie National Forest.

John Gerwin, an ornithologist at the North Carolina Museum of Sciences in Raleigh, and Zach Orr, of the Randolph Rattlesnake Refuge and Research Center, were the go-to experts for the hike along the single-track trail.

The Sunday morning walk was scheduled to begin at 10. Eight had signed up, but a LandTrust representative said the lower number — more than two dozen had reported for the hike on Saturday morning and about 30 people paddled part of the Uwharrie River Saturday afternoon, all part if the third annual Uwharrie Naturalist Weekend — was likely due to it being Mother’s Day as well as the weather forecast.

Right at the Low Water Bridge, a female northern water snake was perched atop a log in the river. It barely moved and blended well within its surroundings, but a man from Rockingham pointed out the snake’s position to the group even before the nature hike officially began.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com This female northern water snake was spotted even before the nature hike officially began.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
This female northern water snake was spotted even before the nature hike officially began.

It was an opportunity for Orr to note the snakes’ importance to the ecosystem — not to mention their protected status. It’s unlawful to harm them, Orr noted.

“Slowly but surely, more people are becoming enlightened,” Orr said. “But as more people are enlightened, there’s more people everywhere.”

At about 10:25 a.m., though, it was time to get started.

“We’ll go stretch our legs,” Gerwin suggested.

Trail hikers saw warblers, a humming bird, a salamander, a river turtle, a cooter turtle — the latter two sharing the same log — a couple of pickerel frogs, several spiders, a few centipedes and, along with the northern water snake, a black rat snake.

It was “mission accomplished” for people like Gerwin and Orr, who use such expeditions to initiate outdoor recreation novices to the hazards and joys of nature.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Ornithologist John Gerwin was prepared to see any type of bird - and on Saturday, even a bat in the middle of the day - with his trusty binoculars.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Ornithologist John Gerwin was prepared to see any type of bird – and on Saturday, even a bat in the middle of the day – with his trusty binoculars.

Said one participating teen: “As terrified of snakes as I am, I really wanna see more.”

How to get there

The Low Water Bridge Preserve is approximately 60 minutes from Rockingham. Take U.S. Route 220 North to Biscoe. Take NC Routes 24/27 west through Troy, then take State Route 109 until turning right onto Coggins Mine Road.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Zach Orr knew just where to find this pickerel frog - and knew exactly where to return him.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Zach Orr knew just where to find this pickerel frog – and knew exactly where to return him.

Filed in: Featured News, Health, Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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