A Night Under the Stars

16 inch telescope

16 inch wide telescope at Grassland Mountain Observatory

The car shook back and forth, the sound of gravel crushing and grinding under the weight of the tires during the steep mountain ascent. Suddenly, I reached the top, and the world opened up in a breathtaking view with a sky hundreds of miles long. Wave after wave of mountains sloshed against the horizon line, growing darker in blue hue the further my eye traveled. To my back, in the west, the sun was beginning to set. The stage was prepped for a captivating night of stargazing.

I walked just over the hillside to see a small cottage with its roof slid open, like a sliding glass door. Inside Bernie Arghiere, well known astronomer with the Astronomy Club of Asheville, calmly and happily commenced setting up the massive, 16-inch telescope mounted in the middle of the floor. The observatory sits on top of Grassland Mountain in Marshall, NC, and tonight, people from across the area were coming to experience a special Stargazer Outing. Read more

Clawhammer Hike 2019

Sarge, Israel, Abby, and her puppy Prairie at Clawhammer's summit

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

Alexander Chapel Baptist Church Visit

Around the corner from SAHC’s Community Farm and other conserved farms in Alexander, community members are working to preserve an historic African-American church and cemetery. In conjunction with our “It’s Your Backyard” event in April, outdoor recreation ambassador Daniel White (The Blackalachian) led a bike ride from the Community Farm to the church, raising awareness about the significance of the site in local African American history. Read more

Montreat Wilderness Hike 2018

In 2018 the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased 123 acres including the western flank and summit of Brushy Knob, one of the Seven Sisters near Black Mountain, NC. To celebrate the acquisition of this valuable conservation land we led an educational hike along the outer rim of the Montreat Wilderness. Participants learned about SAHC’s role in conservation in the Black Mountains and were able to see the new acquisition firsthand. The hike consisted of 3,000′ of elevation gain over 8.5 miles! The following is one participant’s reflection on the outing…

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Thunderstruck Hike 2018

“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

Clawhammer Hike 2018

“The sounds of Alison Krauss’ debut filled the gaps in spirited conversation between excited, carpooling hikers.

“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.

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The Blackalachian Visits Asheville

Daniel visits with SAHC and Blue Ridge Forever staff.

Appalachian Trail thru hiker Daniel White grew up in the Shiloh community of Asheville and now lives in Charlotte. Last year, he set off hiking the AT to gain a new perspective on life. Unlike many who make the trek, Daniel started his journey without any backpacking experience. Now he’s become an ambassador for outdoor recreation.

“I hadn’t slept in a tent until three days before I started,” he says. “Growing up in Asheville, the trail was there all the time, but nobody introduced me to it. Once I got started, it was a learning experience. I was only planning to hike for a couple months, but then I really got into it and didn’t want to stop.”

Daniel hopes to use his own experiences to encourage others to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Read more

Southern Sixer Challenge: Accepted and Done!

Hiker Yuliya Semenova fulfilled our “Southern Sixer Challenge” in exuberant style this winter and submitted an exciting account of her recent expeditions. Congrats, Yuliya — and thank you for sharing your journeys with us!

First Expedition

“Hi there, beers and mountains challenge has been accepted and done! My name is Yuliya and I had a kick butt time exploring the 6000 footers these past two weeks. Monday, February 12th, 2018 the forecast showed rain all day but it was my day off and I had the itchy feet and decided that I won’t melt and hiked out. I ascended 5 six-thousand-footers that day!

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Southern Sixer Kickoff: Roan High Knob

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 Hike 2017

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