The Guilford Woods is known for the many hiking trails criss-crossing its grounds like the veins under skin. Everyone says it’s not likely to lose yourself in there wandering down a path, but I say differently.
Being someone with low vision, I see the woods very differently than most do. I “see” more with my ears, nose, and sense of touch than I do with my eyes. When I use my eyes to see the woods, all I see is varying shades of browns and greens. Now, I’m not colorblind, its just that everything within a 5 foot radius is blurry to my eyes. I cannot tell the trees apart from each other using my eyes because every tree looks the same when I look at them; it’s by the feel of their trunk or leaves that I can tell Tree A from Tree B.
I can’t go in the woods alone because I have an extremely poor sense of direction. Keeping track of the forks in the paths is where I struggle most. I can certainly get myself lost in the woods, but I can sadly not rely on just myself to get me back out of the woods safely.
It is very nice to be able to go and be in a place where you are really able to let your senses run wild and not just have to rely on what your eyes can see. That is one of the best aspects of nature in my opinion.
Being in the Guilford College Woods after it has rained is like walking into a different world. Typical sunny colors found on the forest floor and trees are more muted. They get replaced with the eye-catching green of moss, ivy, and freshly watered mushrooms that litter the bottoms of tree trunks.
One sight that really sticks out to me when it rains in the woods is the sound of the rain hitting different objects. The drops pattering the tree leaves sound so different from the big fat drops exploding on the ground, and it is music to my ears. It’s like hearing natures symphony, and the fact that I can mess around with different objects to make the sound of the rain hitting them is also fun and cool.
That earthy smell people talk about smelling outside after there has been a good rain takes on a whole other meaning in the woods. Everything gets real damp and the forest floor gets slippery with mud. The physical attributes that fresh water gives to the living things of the woods is amazing. The trees soak up the water through the soil and their roots. The creek runs high and loud with the fresh rain water sloshing through it. You really do start to see things in nature come alive when the sky breaks open and the rain starts to fall.
For my Fall 3-week course I took a geology course. For my final lab for the course, I decided to go into the woods and measure 100 Loblolly Pine tree trunks to find the average circumference of those 100 Loblolly Pine trees in order to be able to find the age of the top two thickest trees.
The processes basically went like this. I got a friend to come with me into the woods and to help find the trees do measurements, then I went and analyzed the data. I logged all the circumferences into a chart on MS Excel, and created categories for each of the measurements to fall into such as 1-2 feet, 2-3 feet, 3-4 feet, 4-5 feet, and 5-6 feet. That way, when I went to make a graph, it wouldn’t have 100 bars for the 100 trees I measured because they would all fall into the catagory of however large their circumference was. From there, I did more analyzing and research, because it’s usually almost impossible to get the exact age of a tree without cutting it down and counting the rings of its trunk. The forula I ended up using was circumfrnce of the trunk divided by Pi to find the diameter, then multiply the diameter by the growth factor, which happened to be 2.19 in order to estimate the overall age of the tree. I only did this for the two thickest trees I found. the tree that was 6 feet around was estibated to be around 50 years old, and the tree that was 6 feet 9 inches around was estimated to be 56.5 years old.
Then I moved on to the importance of why I was doing the experiment and research to start with, which was to show trees and forests roll in climate change, biodiversity, and to talk about the negative impacts of deforestation.
The Guilford Woods has had an alluring aspect to me since I first started going to college here. I didn’t go in at all until my junior year though. A place as large as the Guilford Woods would get me lost in an instant if I went in alone. But it is really a cool place to walk around in when I can manage to get a friend to tag along.
Being in there is like entering a different world. There isn’t the chatter of people that campus always seems to have, or did before the pandemic. All that can be heard are the birds and other wildlife like deer that can be found wandering around in there. It’s also often fairly muddy in there as well, probably because the tree cover doesn’t let in much sun to dry up rain from the storms. The guilford woods is a place that you can get lost in the nature of it all. You can hear the birds chip high above in the trees, smell the wet trodden on earth under your feet, feel the rough bark of the trees all around, see as sunbeams poke though the sea of tree trunks, but just don’t eat the mushrooms you find along the trails.