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Mountain People - Appalachian Expedition Part 2

Commemorative march on the anniversary of the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain. Photo: Library of CongressNow, as you leave base camp, you search for evidence of early settlers on Blair like rock walls, old stump fences, and chestnut rails. Before long, one of your teammates stops everybody. He is standing in the middle of a cleared area-a spot that looks like it could have supported a farm at one time-kneeling on the ground, looking at something. The team Anthropologist is very excited!

Mountain People - Appalachian Expedition Part 1

As the sun warms your tent, you get out of your sleeping bag and begin to prepare for the day. First things first: you build a fire. As soon as the fire is strong, you put on water for tea and oatmeal. You and your teammates gather around to eat breakfast and plan for the day.

Today you'll learn more about the people who once lived on Blair Mountain. In addition to biological diversity, you suspect there is quite a bit of cultural history worth protecting here.

Mountain People - Himalayan Expedition Part 3

Facing darkness and cooler temperatures, you and your teammates encourage one another to move on. As you leave the last village behind you, the agricultural land is replaced by pastureland that extends up to the nival zone. Yaks, sheep, and goats are grazing here. The animals seem so isolated that you wonder if they are ever attacked by wolves or wild dogs.

Mountain People - Himalayan Expedition Part 2

As you climb higher, the number of houses increases, and so does the number of agricultural fields, until almost 75 percent of the land is being farmed. In places it is very hard to see the original vegetation. In fact, you can see some locals working in a nearby forest, cutting down trees. Laxmi explains that this wood will be used in their homes for fuel. When they finish cutting down the trees in this area, they light the remaining brush and weeds on fire. Laxmi refers to this practice as "Khorea," which translates into "slash-and-burn" in English.

Mountain People - Himalayan Expedition Part 1

You wake up to the sound of light rain on your tent. Even though this kind of cloudy, drizzly, and cold day always makes you want to stay in bed, you get out of your sleeping bag and begin to prepare for the day. First things first: you build a fire. As soon as the fire is strong, you put on water for tea and oatmeal. You and your teammates gather around the fire to keep warm while you eat and plan for the day.

Mountain People - Andes Expedition Part 3

Quietly, your team passes by the festival site and up to the snow line, where cattle and sheep are grazing, unattended. Looking around as you climb, you notice there are many reminders that mountain people once lived and worked higher than they do today. Walter points out what he calls a "chullpa." This is a towerlike tomb made out of stone. Your heart falls when you find evidence that it has been ravaged by greedy hands in search of valuable items. Is your team too late? Have the grave robbers already gotten to the Ice Mummy?

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Appalachain Expedition Part 2

Mountain logging site. Photo: Library of CongressYou've just been fortunate to witness the incredible diversity of plant life on Blair Mountain. Unfortunately, many of these plants are in danger. In addition to the threat of mountaintop mining, these plants are threatened by logging, agricultural practices, and tourist activities. These threats exist because people have discovered the vast resources-from fun to wood-that mountains have to offer and they are taking advantage of them.

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Himalayan Expedition Part 2

You've just been fortunate to witness the incredible diversity of life in Makalu-Barun National Park. Unfortunately, many of these plant and animal species are in danger. In addition to the degradation of forests and grasslands from cattle grazing, deforestation is taking place as trees are removed for fuelwood. You and your team even brought a camping stove to cook with so you wouldn't increase the pressure on these forests. More pressure comes from the illegal hunting of wildlife and harvesting of wild plants by outsiders.

Mountains as Biodiversity Hotspots - Appalachain Expedition Part 1

The Expedition Begins

The Appalachians. Photo: TMIAfter weeks of planning and preparation, your expedition is finally going to begin. First you land at Logan County airport in Ethel, West Virginia. After renting a car, you drive 20 miles to the town of Hetzel.

Hetzel, the closest town to Blair Mountain, is where you will spend a day making final preparations for your expedition.

Final Assessment

Students have completed their expeditions. Now it is time to determine whether they have gained understanding of and appreciation for mountains. Why are mountains important? Students may come up with the ideas that mountains are valuable to them for their recreational uses-skiing, hiking, climbing, rafting, and so on. Encourage students to think about the many other resources that mountains provide (water, timber, mineral resources, food). If they haven't already, challenge students to consider their life without these things. Why do mountains need to be protected?

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Last updated on 08/30/2014
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