“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.
A few hikers expressed fear about being able to complete this lengthy hike. Some were guarded about the possibility of seeing a rattlesnake, like I did when I scouted the hike a week prior. However, once we got our boots on and the excitement set in, anxieties evaporated.
“I don’t mind not knowing what lies down the track, ‘Cause I’m looking out ahead to keep my mind from turning back.”
To my pleasant surprise, the hiking participants were more than well equipped to handle this strenuous hike. The first 2 miles peeled away as the group got to know each other. In no time at all we were hiking on the ridge, enjoying splendid views and sunlight dappled canopy. We were also surrounded by an abundant crop of Chicken of the Wood mushroom. It seems that the rains from the previous week created a perfect environment for the mycelia to bloom upon the wood.
The summit provided beautiful vistas of Looking Glass Mountain while we reclined and feasted upon our lunch. There is nothing quite like the midpoint of a 10.5 mile hike to whet my appetite for Harris Teeter brand bean burritos. We rested, ate, and soaked up the sun for close to twenty minutes before it was time to begin our descent. We took an alternate path back to the vehicles that allowed us to see small water falls, a black rat snake, and a number of interesting plants. When we returned to the Highland Brewing Company Tasting Room, everyone enjoyed a beverage and went their separate ways with new experiences and new friends.”
— Hike leader Israel Golden, 2018-19 AmeriCorps Conservation Education & Volunteer Member
See more hike photos in our Flickr album: