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

The Tri-County Traverse

heading-up-the-fields.jpgYou would think that crossing three counties in one day would be an impossible task. Nay, with this grizzled group of veteran hikers, SAHC and land owners Carl and Holley Merschat were able to summit the top of Maney Fields where Buncombe, Madison, and Yancey Counties converge. Despite only having to hike 1.5 miles to the top, the group gained over 1,200 feet of elevation, climbed through cattle gates, and avoided high voltage fences. Truly, a successful day!

For over thirty years, Carl and Holley Merschat have lived in their home tucked away in Barnardsville, NC. There, they raised two kids, and gradually buffered their home with additional land to explore and enjoy. They bought their house in 1974 and the next year bought 58 more acres. Over the next 30 years, the Mershats were able to tack on an additional 60 acres. They heat their home every winter from the wood on their property, grow Shiitake mushrooms, and continue to cultivate a strong relationship with their land. Read more

Caught in a Webb (Property)

 

lauras-rock1.jpgIf you like hiking, beautiful landscapes, and a little southern hospitality, then you probably would hae enjoyed our adventure to the Webb conservation easement property. Landowner Laura Webb and family generously opened the doors to their property and hosted an incredible hike and picnic for SAHC and members.

The Webb property is nestled deep in Jackson County, where it boasts a lake for fishing, untouched views from Laura’s Rock, and a secluded feel that gives visitors the thrilling sensation that they are truly “in the wild.” Originally (and still) used as a fishing cabin for family and friends of the Webbs, the 615-acre property protects a pristine lake and creeks that flow into the nearby Tuckaseegee River. Parts of the property sky to almost 4,500 feet high and afford hikers with breathtaking views of the valley below. Read more

An Adventure to Twin Falls and Clawhammer

starting-off1.jpgSAHC and Highland Brewing Company would like to send a major “shout out” to all of the folks that made it to Twin Falls and Clawhammer Mountain the first weekend of October. This intrepid group showed copious amounts of fortitude and demonstrated the will power to make it to the promised land that weekend in Pisgah National Forest.

The hike started off typical. Everyone parked their cars, listened to SAHC’s typical spiel about why land conservation is important, and perhaps most importantly, signed off on the waiver so that there would be no legal drama if any accidents occurred during the hike. As we approached the Avery Creek Trail head, no one knew what lay lurking in the depths of the not-so-ominous and beautiful trail. Read more

Rockin’ at Rocky Fork with Mars Hill College

group-shot.jpgOn Sunday, Septemeber 9th, David Ramsey led Mars Hill College 17 faculty and students on a hike to the protected 10,000-acre ecological treasure, known as Rocky Fork. It was the perfect day for some learning, hiking, and fishing.

Ramsey has been leading hikes for politicians, concerned citizens, and anyone else interested in protecting Rocky Fork’s vulnerable land since the mid-nineties, so when Karen Paar, director of The Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at Mars Hill College, approached Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy about leading a hike with her department for this fall, SAHC suggested David Ramsey. Read more

June Jamboree 2012 – Spectacular Summer on the Roan

1-grays40.jpgWe couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to appreciate the Highlands of Roan than the one that graced this year’s June Jamboree! On Saturday, June 23rd, hikers on each of six adventures enjoyed gorgeous skies – from a long, sunny trek on Grassy Ridge to a splashing good time in cold creek waters. Here’s a brief look at what you may remember – or may have missed. This year, we wanted to let our hikers and hike leaders  tell the story of the June Jamboree in their own words… Enjoy their adventures, and we hope you’ll join us next year! Read more

Foraging for Mushrooms

charlotte-explaining.jpgIt was the perfect storm for finding mushrooms last weekend in gorgeous Yancey County. In recent days, thunderstorms had soaked the ground, paving the way for an explosion of boletes, chanterelles, little brown mushrooms, and many others.

On July 22nd, SAHC & guests were led on an intriguing excursion by Asheville myco-hunter and expert, Charlotte Caplan. Everyone learned some tricks of the trade when identifying these mysterious fungi. The common question was, “How do you know if a mushroom is edible or not?” Read more

Little Hump Partnership Hike

group-shot.jpgSunday, May 20th, was a beautiful day for a hike in the Highlands of Roan. Thirty six ambitious hikers joined SAHC and Highland Brewing Company for a full day of hiking.

We started our journey along Roaring Creek down in the valley below Little Hump by hoping onto the Overmountain Victory Trail. This was a good warm-up for everyone as we gradually ascended to connect with  the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail traverses 17 miles in the Highlands of Roan and provides some of the most spectacular views in the Southern Appalachians. The grade of the trail became immensely more difficult as the group set their sights on summiting Little Hump Mountain. A little ways up, hikers took a break to look back down into the valley and admire the iconic Overmountain Shelter. Read more