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Thursday, September 21, 2017

day 4 Hiwassee snorkel- by Aria C.

On Friday, our last day, we all came into GPS excited for our next adventure. We loaded up our lunches on the bus and headed to the Hiwassee river to snorkel! When we arrived we saw a couple of instructors from the national forest service in wetsuits and headed in their direction. We learned that wetsuits are made to keep water close to your body so that your body can keep the water warm. We were told not to stand up because the water would run out and we would be colder than we were actually in the water. We changed into swimsuits in a tent then picked up wetsuits, goggles and a snorkel. We cleaned the goggles and snorkel with a bleach and water solution. Then wiped our goggles with anti-fog cream so our breath wouldn't make our vision cloudy. When we were all geared up we headed towards the river! The water was COLD! It took us a few minutes to get all the way in.


We started to spread out across the river and move against the current. We laid on our stomachs and used our arms to grab rocks and pull ourselves forward. It took some time to get used to the feeling of a wetsuit and breathing out of my mouth but, when I did I saw red lined darters, green sided darters, and Tennessee shiners. Even in spots where there weren't a lot of fish it was still really interesting to look underwater and observe their habitat. When we all started to get cold again we got out and ate lunch. We had chicken salad sandwiches, bananas, graham crackers, and cookies. We sat on the concrete in the sun to stay warm. When we were done with lunch we got right back into our nature adventure. I found a sculpin camouflaged on a rock which was one of my favorite parts of the trip and made me look very carefully at where I place my hands. After a few minutes of exploring the shallow areas we decided to let the current carry us in the opposite direction into much deeper water. We let go of the rocks and coast downstream floating with our heads underwater. When we got to the pools that were probably around 6 feet deep we saw big sticks underwater making an interesting home for bigger fish. We saw a large fish that we thought was a trout as well as other fish that were different in size and shape than the little ones further upstream. Larkin, a rising junior said she saw a creepy mask under water too! After passing the pools we stopped at a large rock formation that was sticking out of the water to wait for everyone and find a way to get back upstream closer to our things. I was keeping myself from drifting away by holding myself with one small rock. So, when everyone started to gather up and space became invaluable we were trying to squeeze three people onto this one little rock. The water level and current speed had rapidly increased from the time we began. The guides told us that one of the dam turbines had started up which is why the water was moving so rapidly. Before we started they told us that the dam isn’t usually turned on until 2pm and if it starts beforehand we’ll have to get out. I missed most of the directions in an effort to keep Annie from drifting away. All I caught was, “We’re going to swim as fast as we can across the river. Because the current is so strong we won’t end up directly across but instead in that direction.” she pointed to a spot along the bank that was further downstream. Everyone’s adrenaline started kicking in and you could almost hear hearts beating out of chests. Everyone was terrified yet excited. Before we knew it we were swimming as fast as we could to the other side while the water swept us downstream. When we got to the bank we were breathing heavily and wide eyed surprised that we made it! Then we saw Annie still in the water! She was quickly drifting downstream and we could barely see her. Luckily she got to the bank but she was way behind us. We hiked along the bank until it curved into an island. So, we trekked across the island then across channel of water
that came after it. Then we were back at our starting point!  


We changed into dry clothes and sunbathed in the parking lot while rehashing how we were scared for our lives when we had to swim across the river. We researched some of the fish we saw in a big book that Mrs.Couch brought. It was an amazing experience and definitely my favorite day of our Tucker River Fellows week! 

day 3 (part 2)- Wastewater treatment and TVA archeology - by Katie D.

     Today we visited the waste water treatment plant. Outside it smells about as terrible as you would expect but luckily for us, we spent most of our time at the plant inside learning about the treatment process.

     There are three types of treatment: physical, biological, and chemical. For physical treatment they remove all of the solid garbage and compact it, for biological treatment they use microscopic "bugs", for chemical treatment they put bleach into the water and then remove it so that they can put the water back into the river safely.

     We also learned that rainwater can cause issues because it creates more water to treat but doesn't need to be treated. Because of these issues only about six percent of water collection systems are combined waste and storm water.

     Overall, the waste water treatment process is very complicated and even more important. It was a very interesting experience learning about all of the processes and complications that occur before waste water can be returned to the river clean again. I have to say though, I think that my favorite part of the visit was the "no diving" sign beside one of the shallow pits of waste water.

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After touring the dam, meeting with South Chickamauga Creek Greenway alliance, touring the wastewater treatment plant we ended a long day with a presentation about archeology by TVA archeologist Michaelyn Hale.
She showed us artifacts found in or near the Tennessee River and we learned about important Mississippian sites. The history of archeology at TVA was fascinating; among other things, we learned about work to document artifacts prior to flooding due to Chickamauga Dam. 

day 3 part 1: Chickamauga Dam by Kenzie G

Hello friends! I'm Kenzie and I'm writing about the Chickamauga Dam. Sadly, there was no dam snack bar, dam restroom, or dam gift shop, (any Percy Jackson fans out there?) however it was still interesting to learn about.

First we got to see the four turbines, which were huge! Also, did you know that if you go where the turbines are you're around 40 ft under the river? It was weird! After the turbines we went to see the 'heart' of the dam is was really loud down there. Next, we went outside. After climbing lots of steps we reached the top. Did you know the workers can split the dam in half to release pressure? I thought that was interesting.

Raccoon Mountain acts as a 'battery' for the dam. Basically it's a place for energy storage and if something happens to the dam then they can tap into the reserve on Raccoon Mountain. Chickamauga is owned by TVA, obviously and they power around 900,000 home. However they can only power around 140,000 a day. Another fun fact is that there are 14 workers there. 14 workers running the dam, now that's impressive!


At the end we all got little foam hard hats and whenever I cross the bridge over the dam I can't help but think about the tour and fun we had there. See you next time folks!

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After touring the dam, we ate lunch with Sandy Kurtz from the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway alliance and she spoke to the group about what citizens can do to to make sure developers and businesses are following water quality laws. We walked along part of the South Chickamauga Greenway. 

Seine fishing- by Talley L

Our day started with a tour of TNACI, also known as the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. Here we learned of the organization’s current conservation attempts, such as raising Sturgeon. One of the things we were shown were preserved pallid and shovelnose sturgeon, which were equally disturbing and fascinating. After we took the tour of TNACI, we headed to South Chickamauga Creek to seine fish.


 Once we took a short drive to the creek, we began to prepare to start seine fishing. For those who don’t know, seine fishing is when you put on waders and stand in the water. Two or more people hold onto poles that are attached to a net. Then people proceed to shuffle along the bottom of the water towards the net. If it worked, when the net is lifted up, there will be many species of fish in the net!


We got into the water and started to have fun doing the “darter shuffle” to get fish into the net.
Soon, we got to see many different kinds of fish, such as mosquito fish, snail darters, log perch, green side darters, spotted top minnows, sculpins, and even some crawdads just to name a few. The water level was rather high that day, so the current was very strong. We almost lost some river fellows! (I’m looking at you Annie).
 Once the fishing was all over, we said goodbye to the pigeon coop, chicken salad, and very kind people from TNACI, and headed back to GPS.
Thanks, Mrs. King for the awesome sketchnote of our day! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kayaking TN River Gorge, day 2 by Calista G.


The clock hit 7:30am and it was time to get up and get dressed. All of us walked downstairs to be greeted by a fruit bowl and blueberry french toast casserole. The fruit bowl consisted of bananas, strawberries, and blueberries and the blueberry casserole consisted of bread, cream cheese, maple syrup and fresh blueberries. After breakfast everyone went upstairs to our rooms in the cabin and packed our clothes so the bus could go back to the school around 10:30-11:00. We made sandwiches for lunch before we set off to go kayaking. It was time to set off into the river kayaking for the last time this week. From what we know, there was no turtle when we got into our kayaks. Before we started paddling to our next destination, we made a line with our kayaks to remember the moment of the Pot House. 

On the way we saw many eagles flying around we also found a pool tube. The river was with us today and most of the time we coasted. As we reached the end of our journey we got out of kayaks and ate lunch before we headed back to school and then go home for another fun day in day three. 

Kayaking the TN River Gorge: day 1 -by Annie T.


It was our first day of River Fellows and we were all thrilled! We showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed at GPS at 9 o'clock that morning with our heavy bags for our overnight kayaking trip.
The first thing we did was get familiar with our new waterproof journals. We also copied in a mind pie, which we later shaded in with our strengths and weaknesses. After that, we learned about watersheds and the history of the Tennessee River and where we were staying and where we were kayaking. After changing and getting our personal flotation devices, we were ready to go!

After a long, song filled bus ride, where we actually finished the 99 bottles of milk on the wall song, we arrived at the put-in, along with the rain. When it dried off, we all stepped out and applied sunscreen. Our guides Terri and Jo, arrived and then we ate lunch. Mrs. Couch then took the GPS bus and an Outdoor Chattanooga van up to the cabin where she dropped off our bags and the bus. While she was gone, Terri and Jo taught us kayaking basics and a bit about the kayaks we were using. When she got back, we were ready to put out and the rain quit just in time! We kayaked for about two hours when most of us began to get very tired.
Eventually, we saw a nice large rock where we could take a break! We jumped off the rock and floated around.

After the break, we continued on our way till we finally arrived at our cabin. But as we pulled up to the dock and get out, Terri saw a giant snapping turtle right at the take-out! She pushed it away with her paddle and then we all got out. 

Then we went up to explore the cabin, and more importantly: shower! After that, we all dried off and start talking for a while but then eventually we all started dozing off and taking a nap. We then ate a delicious lasagna dinner cooked by Terri and started to plan our night hike. We then went out to take our night hike, but after a lot of poison ivy half the group split off to do a casual boardwalk. When all the group came back together, we went upstairs and played some team bonding games which ended in a lot of laughs! Finally, we saw how late it was and decided to hit the hay and get some well earned rest because we knew we had big plans for the next day!