A Rattling Good Time

bridge.jpgOur newest AmeriCorps Project Conserve PR and Outreach Associate, Kana Miller, jumped full into the outings program last month with her first “For Love of Beer & Mountains” guided hike — and a bit of a surprise along the trail!

“On September 20th, a beautiful and sunny Saturday, my initiation into the SAHC family truly commenced as I led my first event and “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership hike up Clawhammer Mountain. As the newest AmeriCorps Project Conserve PR and Outreach Associate, part of my responsibilities include teaming up with Highland Brewing Company  to lead these partnership hikes to namesakes of Highland’s seasonal brews, raising awareness and support for our conservation efforts to protect clean water, unique plant and animal habitat and scenic beauty. While I was nervous about leading my first hike, I was quickly put at ease by the cheerful demeanor of our hiking group. Read more

Community Farm/Discovery Trail Hike

hike-line2.jpgIt was hot –  but not too hot – just the kind of bright summer sun you imagine plants loving to soak in.

On National Trails Day/Land Trust Day (June 7, 2014), we led a group of curious members, landowners, and local families on a two-hour tour of SAHC’s Community Farm in Alexander, NC. This first Saturday in June starts off Outdoor Month, and was given special designation to recognize the economic importance of trails across the nation as well as the land conservation work of local land trusts. It was a wonderful day to enjoy the 1.5-mile Discovery Trail and to showcase the many exciting programs going on at our Farm. Read more

Devil’s Britches “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Partnership Hike

hikingtime.jpgSAHC’s AmeriCorps PR & Outreach Member Anna Zanetti recaps a snowy “For Love of Beer & Mountains” partnership hike:

“Highland Brewing Company’s seasonal release of Devil’s Britches Red IPA kicked off the first “For Love of Beer & Mountains” partnership hike of 2014 at Cataloochee Ranch. Hikers trekked through deep snow to the top of Hemphill Bald (5,540 ft. elevation), where they leaned about SAHC’s first conservation easement as well as feral hog damage and the natural history of the area.

In late February the Southeast experienced a large snowstorm, accumulating 6 inches of snow in the Asheville area and more in higher elevations, but the Devil’s Britches hikers were undeterred. On the Sunday after the storm 17 hikers made their way out to tackle the mountain with SAHC and Highland Brewing. Read more

Winter Tree ID in Montreat

img_2144.jpgThis year’s winter tree identification hike took place in the beautiful Montreat Wilderness. As our intrepid, aspiring dendrologists hiked near Montreat’s streams, cold conditions and overcast skies gave way to a wonderfully pleasant western North Carolina winter day. Our guests were treated to a variety of topics, including native plant communities, forest health issues, and the cultural history of Montreat.

Chris Coxen, SAHC’s Field Ecologist, discussed basic tips for winter tree identification success. Examine the form of the tree — is it straight or does it dramatically bend to seek out sunlight (like a sourwood tree)? What does the bark look like? Are the twigs coming off of the main branches alternate or opposite? Read more

Hiking Into The Lost Cove

image (7)Although we are in the midst of an arctic freeze in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, we’re eagerly looking forward to the slate of outdoor adventures our outreach team has planned for this year. To whet your appetite, here’s a narrative from one of our 2013 fall hikes – a trek into the 95-acre Lost Cove tract that SAHC purchased in 2012, led by our AmeriCorps PR & Outreach associate Anna Zanetti:

“Lost Cove, once a self-sustaining community nestled on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, has become a mere ghost town with the occasional company of a destination hiker. In late November I led 22 people on a hike to the old settlement where only abandoned and crippled buildings now exist. Read more

Fall “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Partnership Hikes

img_1643.jpgOur new AmeriCorps PR and Outreach Associate, Anna Zanetti, launched into a full schedule of fall hikes when she came on board with us in September. Part of that slate of fall hikes included our “For Love of Beer & Mountains” Clawhammer and Thunderstruck partnership hikes — which luckily occurred on two lovely October weekends. The Thunderstruck hike also gave the group an opportunity to visit one of SAHC’s newly protected tracts  — Blackrock Mountain. Below is Anna’s take on the experience:

“SAHC partnership hikes with Highland Brewing are one of the highlights of my job. These popular group hikes feature protected peaks that are namesakes of Highland Brewing Company’s seasonal beers. The “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership, including our guided hikes, helps raise public awareness of the places and species that make our mountains so special. Read more

Clear Skies for ‘Shroom Hunters!

group-getting-instructions-best.jpgIn the Southeast, we’ve been breaking all kinds of records for abundant rainfall through the summer – which you’d think would be great for growing mushrooms, right? Fun fact: There is such a thing as too much rain for ‘shrooms! Luckily, however, we were still able to collect a bountiful and varied assortment for our mushroom identification hike on August 14. And, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a beautiful sunny sky and clear views of the Black Mountains as a bonus.

Led by amateur mycologist Charlotte Caplan – who has spent the past 35 years learning about mushrooms – our group started out in a high mountain meadow with Mt. Mitchell and the stunning Black Mountains clearly visible in the background. Read more

Swimming in a Sea of Wildflowers

20130427-hiking-group-photo2.jpgThe forecast showed rain for Saturday’s wildflower hike on April 27, but even with the incoming deluge, ten rain-impervious souls showed up to enjoy a few of Spring’s fleeting treasures. The big rains were coming at two so we put on our water repelling soul-suits and set-off on our adventure.

Off we went into the light drizzle, pausing only to take a group photograph as evidence that we were in fact outside and not identifying flowers from laptops in warm, cozy beds. Ted Haddock and his family generously offered their beautiful property as a place to search for spring ephemerals. Glancing up the mountain, the whole group knew we were in for a real treat! The climb was steep but Josh Kelly, Western North Carolina Alliance’s Public Lands Biologist, always had the knack to point out another cool flower or the call of a bird mocking us from far above when the group began to lose its breath. Read more

Devil’s Britches and Bark, Buds, Nuts – A pint, a party, a presentation and hike for Tree ID.

chris-with-crew-at-beginning.jpgThe end of February was a great time to practice winter tree identification, and to enjoy a new Highland Brewing Company seasonal pint with friends. As part of our “For Love of Beer & Mountains” partnership with Highlands Brewing Company, we hosted an informative & engaging presentation at the Tasting Room on Thursday, February 21, followed that weekend by an on-the-ground field opportunity with SAHC Field Ecologist Chris Coxen. The presentation was short & sweet – an informative beginner’s guide to success in knowing more about the trees you may see in our area, given in six steps. Read more

Hiking in the Rough Creek Watershed: A respite from winter’s cabin fever.

sumac-on-ridge.jpgPersonal Perspective from SAHC AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston

“After several weeks of desk time at the office, followed by several days experiencing the worst that this year’s flu season had to offer, cabin fever prompted this SAHC AmeriCorps steward to take advantage of a free Sunday to pay a visit to one of our protected properties in Haywood County, only 30 minutes west of Asheville: the Rough Creek Watershed.

Rough Creek Watershed is an 870-acre conservation easement held by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, co-managed with  the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and owned by the Town of Canton. SAHC was instrumental in the protection of this Smoky Mountain jewel. The watershed, which drains into Beaverdam Creek, and then into the Pigeon River, used to serve as the primary water source for Canton, but now it primarily functions as a nature preserve and public pie slice of undisturbed open space.  One of the cool things about this particular conservation easement is that it is accessible to the public. The watershed contains approximately 10 miles of well-maintained trails open for conservation-conscious hikers and bikers to explore. Read more