It was a rather calm morning deep in the Pisgah National Forest. The anxious noise of the city was far from recollection, with only the rushing sounds of a nearby creek bubbling in our ears. Filled with excitement, I took a deep breath and inhaled the cool, damp, mountain air; this is my stomping ground. My name is Shaylyn (Sarge) Sargent, and the Clawhammer hike today was my first hike of the 2019-2020 AmeriCorps service term with SAHC. I could barely keep my socks on. Due to the threat of storms, we had a small group — Israel and his friend Abby along with her black puppy, Prairie. Israel, a former SAHC hike leader, shared his experience with me as we set off down into the rhododendron depths of the forest cove. Read more
“You can do this, Izzy, it’s only October,” I tried to convince myself as I braced for the angry, bitter, frigid wind outside in the parking lot. I was at the carpool rendezvous point at 8:30 am, 15 minutes before the group would arrive, and I needed to get breakfast. I opened the latch – come what may.
Steaming, painfully hot coffee in one hand, toasty vegan breakfast burrito in the other I was able to wait outside for the rest of my participants to arrive. I should have packed a thicker sweater. In total, eight of us met for the carpool – the rest would join us at the trailhead at Waterrock Knob.
I had the privilege of riding with my good friend Nico and two new friends Art and Wes. Adrienne Lenker’s new LP abysskiss played on my stereo as we ascended the Blue Ridge Parkway. Time slid effortlessly by as we discussed the finer points of stealth camping. Read more
“Steel rails chasin’ sunshine round the bend. Winding through the trees like a ribbon in the wind.”
Having filled up the trunk with Clawhammer Oktoberfest Marzen Lager from Highland Brewing Company, we were finally approaching the trail head. Today we would ascend approximately 1,500 feet over a distance of 10.5 miles to the summit of Clawhammer Mountain in Pisgah National Forest.
As part of our “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership, Highland Brewing Company’s seasonal brews are named after natural elements of the Southern Appalachian landscape.
Wicked Weed Brewing has crafted a special brew to support conservation of mountains, forests, farms, streams, and rivers across Western North Carolina and East Tennessee.
“We are thrilled and proud to be represented as the nonprofit for Appalachia!” says Membership Director Cheryl Fowler. “We are very grateful to Wicked Weed Brewing for donating a portion of proceeds from all sales of Appalachia Session IPA, to help support conservation of the mountains we call home.”
Named for the mountains that surround Asheville, Appalachia Session IPA is on tap for a limited time. A percentage of all sales of Appalachia Session IPA will be donated to SAHC to support protection of headwater streams that flow into three major river basins, including the French Broad River, Catawba River, and Broad River. Read more
This past weekend SAHC and Highland Brewing set out on one of the “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership hikes! This hike celebrated the Southern Sixer IPA as well as the 40 peaks above 6,000ft in the Southern Appalachians. The group got to the trail head excited, the day was made for hiking, there were blue skies and cool temperatures. In addition to a wonderful day this maybe SAHC’s first hike with a (local) celebrity. Sammy has starred in a promotional video by the City Chamber. You can see his debut here!
The hiking was tough. The cold temperatures the week prior had left some very icy patches on the trail. The hikers, however, did not let the icy obstacles ruin their fun, everyone continued to chat as we slowly made our way up the mountain. In the end everyone was very thankful for trekking poles! Read more
Cold Mountain is a 6,030ft peak in the Shining Rock Wilderness, while not the highest peak in the Southern Appalachians it is certainly one of the most famous! Naturally, we were very excited to lead the Cold Mountain Challenge Hike again this year. Everything was set to go when the snow storm hit, it was not going to be possible for us to hike on our scheduled date. However, we decided “the hike must go on!” The group trekked up Cold Mountain this Saturday, December 16th and had a excellent time. Read more
On November 11th a group of intrepid hikers set out to on a partnership hike with SAHC and Highland Brewing! We could not have asked for a more perfect day to be in the mountains. We had sunny blue skies and cool temperatures. The Thunderstruck Hike, named after Highland’s seasonal Thunderstruck Coffee Porter, traverses Blackrock Ridge. The hike is a challenging one but passes through many diverse ecosystems! The group was definitely up for the demanding trek, everyone moved quickly, not fazed at all by the steep uphill climbs. Read more
Last Saturday, we led our first guided Southern Sixer hike to the summit of a peak above 6,000 feet. For this “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Southern Sixer Challenge Kickoff, we traveled to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to climb Mount Kephart, named after Horace Kephart, who played a major role during the early years of the park. We were fortunate to be greeted by a majestic herd of elk both on the way into the park and at the end of the day!
While the summit of Mount Kephart doesn’t afford spectacular views, you can continue just a quarter mile further to “The Jumpoff,” the top of a 1,000 foot sheer cliff on the side of the mountain that provides views for miles to the east. From this vantage point we could see back towards SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus areas, where we work to conserve land adjoining the national park, creating a buffer for wildlife and helping preserve viewsheds in this unique landscape.
Late this summer, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Highland Brewing Company were joined by The Aloft Hotel, Altamont Environmental, Traveling Chic Boutique and USA Raft to explore Lost Cove, where SAHC protected a 95-acre tract in 2012. We hiked into the gorge and rafted the Nolichucky River while learning about the historical significance of the area. Read more
Drew Stevenson from Highland Brewing Company and Kana Miller (SAHC AmeriCorps PR and Outreach Associate) fearlessly led our group of hikers into the clouds for a strenuous but fun October hike — the Thunderstruck “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Partnership hike to Blackrock Mountain. Drew recounts this trek through the Plott Balsams in Jackson County, our 2nd Partnership hike of the fall season:
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