I paused at the top of Coweeta Hydrologic Lab’s transect #327, peering down, down, down at the slope beneath me. Katie Bower, a research technician at Coweeta, and two summer interns had already started down the narrow pathway, accustomed to its slippery leaf layer and sharp contours. Taking a deep breath, I followed slowly behind.
The vegetation was fully leafed out, July just about ready to pass into August. Though big rain droplets fell from clouds overhead, the canopy was so dense that barely any precipitation made it through, leaving us relatively dry.
We descended, passing litter baskets and eventually hopping onto a single wooden board that stretched horizontally across the mountainside. As we paused to talk, I realized that scientists and students have been climbing this transect almost as long as I’d been alive.
“These plots were established in the early 1990’s, and we’ve been continuing on with the measurements since then,” Bower says.
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