Earthshine Mountain Lodge

Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter

Issue 2, Winter 2009 --SPECIAL ISSUE--

A Newsletter All About Nature From Earthshine Mountain Lodge

The Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter is a new way for you to connect with your favorite outdoor education and adventure vacation destination: Earthshine Mountain Lodge. Within the pages of this periodic email newsletter, you will learn about the current nature related events from Earthshine Lodge and be updated on interesting happenings from the Turtle Tracks program and wildlife related news from around the world. This newsletter will also feature photos from around Earthshine taken by the staff and you, the guests of Earthshine, as well as nature and outdoor education related trivia, games and puzzles. We will also keep you up-to-date on new things happening at Earthshine that we think you may be interested in.

An Earthshine Wintertime

Fall panorama from Top Knoll!

Winter at Earthshine started very mild but now it is a bit colder on the mountain top. The wonderful thing about winter is that the long range views have been spectacular and the night sky is filled with the shimmering milky way in all its splendor. If one is adventurous, now is a good time to visit the mountain for a secluded wintertime retreat. A wintertime hike is a wonderful experience--the leaves have fallen so the views of the surrounding mountains are incredible. Evening could find you sitting beside a roaring wood fire, gazing up at the vast expanse of stars overhead while sipping hot cocoa and sharing memories and moments with a loved one--what more could you ask for? Give us a call today at (828) 862-4207.


All of the Earthshine turtles are deep in hibernation now. We haven't seen so much as scale nor shell since November. Box turtles are reptiles and since reptiles are exothermic or "cold blooded" they rely on the temperature of their surroundings to generate heat for warmth or to cool off. This works great during the warmer months but when it gets cold their metabolism slows way down and they are unable to function so this is why they must hibernate.

All of the reptiles on the mountain are now "buried up" under the soil, in the leaf litter, deep in crevices under rocks, in old rodent burrows and old stump holes. The box turtles we are tracking at Earthshine and in Cedar Mountain are all sleeping in very similar locations. All but one are sleeping on south or southeast facing slopes. They can be found just a few inches under the leaf litter and humus mat on the forest floor. They have probably chosen south and southeast slopes in order to take advantage of the good solar exposure which keeps them that much warmer than if they were on a north or west slope where the sun doesn't shine as strong or as long. There is however one exception--Jimmy Irwin, he is hibernating on a north facing slope! He isn't that much deeper than the others turtles but his daily temperatures are a few degrees lower than the other turtles. The amazing thing is that despite the cold, the temperatures where the turtles and other reptiles are sleeping never get much lower than in the low 40's--even when it is below freezing and the wind is howling just a few inches above their shells! This is because the thick mat of leaves, soil and roots provides a thick insulating jacket against the cold and wind.

Last winter, when the temperatures plummeted at one point to near 0 degrees Fahrenheit, I hiked into the forest to record the soil temperatures of where Bones and Mojo were hibernating--just like this year they were both sleeping on southeast slopes where they could catch a bit of sun. Their soil temperatures were in the low 40s--amazing! The experience of the ages have given reptiles such as the box turtle an amazing genetic knowledge--instinct--that allows them to know just when, where and how deep to hibernate in order to survive. The next time you put on your high tech thermal winter gear and go for a winter hike in the forest take a moment to think of all the reptiles (and mammals) that are hibernating all around you--under that log, deep inside that hollow tree, in that rocky outcrop--it really is mind boggling!

WILD NOTE: The Eastern Box Turtle is one of the few animals on our earth that has the ability to survive below freezing temperatures for a short period of time--without any protective outerwear other than their shell! Their body temperature can fall below freezing, ice crystals can form in their lungs, around their internal organs and even in their brain--and they can thaw out and survive--with no ill effects! If that happened to you, would you survive?

See how fast you can complete this puzzle of Jimmy Irwin!

Check out the newest video update of the Turtle Tracks project from Earthshine Staff Naturalist Steve! (if the video does not play you may need to make sure you have flash player installed or check your settings.)

Turtle Tracks Fundraiser

Many of you may have talked with Steve, our Staff naturalist, about box turtles and other reptiles at Earthshine Lodge. Some of you may have even attended a turtle tracking expedition searching for one of the turtles that have tiny radio transmitters attached to their shells. These turtles are all part of the Earthshine Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle conservation, rehabilitation and education program which is primarily donation-funded by folks just like you. Several times per year the Turtle Tracks staff (Steve and Meredith) put together fundraisers to raise money to cover the operational costs of the Turtle Tracks program. Without your generous support and turtle adoptions this wonderful wildlife conservation project would not be possible.

The newest Turtle Tracks fundraiser is a unique collectible coin that was designed by Steve. This coin will be a primary fundraiser for the Turtle Tracks project for 2009/10. We hope that some of you might be interested in helping out the project by purchasing this new, unique and low cost collectible coin.

This coin is reptile-themed with an Eastern Box Turtle on one side and an Eastern Diamondback Rattler (Steve's other favorite reptile) on the other--and believe it or not this coin rattles like a rattlesnake when you shake it!!

All proceeds from the sale of each of these coins--after production costs--will be used to directly help provide funds for the:

Earthshine Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle conservation, rehabilitation and education program based at at Earthshine Mountain Lodge in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina USA.

Check out the Turtle Tracks coin on its website and read about why Steve created it, how its other goal is spreading the message of wildlife and habitat conservation to the world through the outdoor and family oriented scavenger hunt game known as Geocaching. Also, find out how you can get one of your own!

Check out the Turtle Tracks home page here.

You may also help Earthshine's box turtles by sponsoring them with a monetary donation or a donation of supplies. If you would like to learn how you can become a part of the Turtle Tracks program please click the photo-link below.

Quote of the Issue

"I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights."

~Dr. Seuss

Earthshine by Anna Maria Clark.

And here's another fun puzzle of an inquisitive Boo boo--enjoy.

Stories from the Pioneer Village

Watch and learn as Benny explains the use of some pioneer tools from down at Mr. Beans' forge.

Down on the barnyard the chicks that hatched last spring are growing up fast!

Here's a couple of photos of the new chicks just after they hatched--how cute!

Many of you may have met the three new chicks that hatched last spring in the Pioneer Village. They are "teenagers" now and the white rooster tried out his crow the other day and Karen was the first to hear it. She said "it sounded very funny, like he had a frog in his throat, or a teenage boys voice cracking. It really made me laugh to hear him trying to crow."

This is the newest photo of the new chickens taken in early January 2009.

Speaking of the Pioneer Village check out this latest video of Pioneer Life from Benny!

News from the office!

Fly Thru the Treetops at Earthshine!

Take a ride on Earthshine's 7 stage zipline course this winter. Bring a group of 4 and the 5th person rides for free!! Ages 10 and up.

Available by reservation only, please email or call for more information (828) 862-4207

Offer expires March 31, 2009.

Three generations zip through the treetops in celebrations of grandmother's 90th birthday!

Check out this new video of The Flight Thru the Treetops Zipline!

Easter at Earthshine April 10-12, 2009

Flowers are bursting forth everywhere you look!

The turtles are stretching their legs after their long winters nap.

The aroma of home-made cookies wafts from Nick and Marney's ovens.

Join the Easter Bunny on a giant egg hunt and Naturalist Steve on a high-tech turtle hunt.

There is nothing quite like Spring at Earthshine!

There are several rooms still available so give us a call today at (828) 862-4207.

An Earthshine Wedding

If you are looking for a great place to host your wedding--think no further than Earthshine--check out this latest video of what we have to offer you for your most special day.

NATURE NOTE: This newsletter is GREEN! The Earthshine Nature Department chose to produce this newsletter in a website based format for several reasons: 1-It saves trees and energy! Paper newsletters are made from paper and paper is made from trees so making it an e-newsletter saves trees! 2-It saves energy. Making a paper newsletter uses loads of electricity during the editing, printing and delivery phase. 3-It saves resources such as printer ink, staples, tape, stamps and the fuel the postman would use to deliver it to your mailbox. 4-It saves money! It costs far less to produce than a paper newsletter. 5-It has full color, snappy graphics and interactive features that you just can't find in a paper newsletter. 6-All back issues will always be available in the newsletter archive if you would like to read it again one day. The only bad thing about an e-newsletter is that you can't use it to line your birdcage when you have finished reading it;-) Enjoy!

In closing here's a great video of Benny and Shawn playing music on the porch--enjoy!

Sign up for the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter and receive regular email updates on all of the nature related events at Earthshine, updates on the status of the Turtle Tracks conservation project and turtle and wildlife news and trivia from around the world! Newsletters will be in the form of a periodic email with a link to this web based newsletter so sign up now it's fun, free and educational--what more could you ask for!

Questions or comments or to add or remove your name from our mailing list, please CLICK HERE Thank You!

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Worldwide Wildlife News

Above photo from

Earthshine staff naturalist Steve O'Neil says that even though most nations of the world oppose whaling for any purpose some nations still continue to kill whales and other endangered sea life under the guise of "Research." This meat then ends up on the menu in the countries where whaling is still taking place. He believes that this is an appalling practice and that it must to stop. This is why Steve totally supports the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who physically oppose the whale poachers of the world and go to great lengths to stop them from killing the last whales. If you too believe that whaling is an out dated practice that is not needed in today's world then please take a look at...

Sea Shepherd's website

...and maybe, like Steve, you will decide to support Sea Shepherd in their Whale War against the whale poachers.

Whaleshark photo from

Sharks of all species--even the docile and harmless whaleshark pictured above--are facing extinction due to overfishing for the shark fin soup market. Please do not eat shark steaks or shark fin soup or buy products made from shark such as sharks teeth, shark jaws or shark liver oil. Buying these products only contributes to the extinction of these beautiful and most important animals. Please watch the wonderful documentary-movie "Sharkwater" --it will open your eyes and hearts to the terribly misunderstood world of the shark. You can watch the movie on youtube or purchase it online on the Sharkwater website and watch it in high definition.

Please help save Steve's Place--it is still in danger of strip mining.

From the Save Steve's Place website: "The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR) is a wetland conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. The 135,000 ha (hectare) property, in Queensland's Cape York Peninsula in Australia, is home to a set of three important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife. The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is being threatened by strip mining. Cape Alumina Pty Ltd has lodged mining lease applications which include approximately 12,300 ha of the Reserve. Cape Alumina company documents indicate an intention to mine 50 plus million tons over a 10 year period commencing 2010. The greater part of this mine is on the SIWR. The proposed area for mining on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve contains the head waters of irreplaceable waterways and unique biodiversity which will not recover after mining operations are finished."

Please consider signing the petition to stop the mining operation and save Steve's Place then send the link on to all your friends--thanks.


Thank You!