When you hike to the top of Little Hump Mountain in the Highlands of Roan, you see a completely unobstructed view of the surrounding mountains from its high elevation grassy bald. The Ridge and Valley Province lies to your west in Tennessee and the renowned peaks of Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock, and Linville Gorge rise to the east in North Carolina. Depending on the season, you could have bluets at your feet and flame azaleas in your line of vision as you look out across the mountains. When you visit this special place, you understand why conservationists have made this area a priority for protection. Read more
In the 1990’s, 67-year-old Maggie Valley resident Tom Alexander realized that he would have to do something to be able to hand down his beloved land, 1,000 mostly undeveloped acres adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, intact to his children. The land had been in his family for 60 years, but development in Haywood County had greatly increased over the past few decades and the value of his land was doubling in value about every three to four years.
On November 17th, 2010, members and friends learned about Montreat history and SAHC’s 2,460-acre Montreat conservation easement as they enjoyed a hike on the East Ridge Loop in the Montreat Wilderness. Joe Stadaert, co-author of an Arcadia press book on Montreat history, led the hike along with Claire Hobbs, SAHC’s PR & Outreach Associate.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy became educational partners with Highland Brewing Company in June 2010. Highland Brewing Company is now able to give back to the mountains that provide Highland employees with off-duty recreation, supply clean water for its beer, and lend their names to the company’s seasonal brews.
To solidify their partnership and educate the public, the organizations lead guided hikes together on the peaks each seasonal beer is named after.
Saturday, November 4th marked the third hike the partners have led together and was on the West Ridge Trail which crosses each of the Seven Sisters mountains. The hike was in honor of the release of the Seven Sisters abbey-style ale, a classic Belgian Ale that features sweet aromas and a hint of nuttiness.
The Seven Sisters are the mythical “daughters” of Graybeard, the tallest peak on SAHC’s 2,450 acre Montreat conservation easement. They are seven ascending peaks located south of Graybeard Mountain. Their names are Tomahawk (elevation 3,680 ft.), Little Piney or Stomping Knob (3,960 ft.), Big Piney (4,180 ft.), unnamed sister (4,360 ft.), Forked Ridge Knob (4,511 ft.), unnamed sister (4,830 ft.), Little Slaty (5,260 ft.), and the tallest sister, Big Slaty or False Graybeard (5,260 ft.). These seven peaks make up the western border of the conservation easement. The easement is part of several thousand acres of contiguous forested lands that is vital to the unique plant and wildlife populations and in protecting headwater streams of the French Broad watershed from sedimentation and other pollution. Highland Brewing Company realizes that their high quality beer would not be possible without the fresh water that is safeguarded by the Montreat easement and the other surrounding forested lands.
To celebrate, all the hikers got the opportunity to taste the Seven Sisters ale when the group reached the summit of the third sister, Big Piney. It was an unusually cold November day and the views were made even better by snowy ridges in the distance. Overall it was a rewarding, challenging hike and everyone fell a little more in love with beer and mountains…
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