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For Love of Beer and Mountains: Seven Sisters Hike

Hikers at the summit of Big PineyThe 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…

Prime Farmland Soils Producing Local Food Preserved Forever

Prime Farmland, Fairview, NCSAHC has advanced its conservation work in the Fairview farming community by protecting 28 more acres that include productive farmland used by Hickory Nut Gap Meats and Flying Cloud Farm, two popular local farming operations. These enterprises provide local food to 4 tailgate markets, Greenlife Grocery and Earth Fare Supermarkets, and over 100 families through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.

The land adjoins the 290-acre Hickory Nut Gap Farm conservation easement, which SAHC closed in December 2008. The new easement furthers SAHC’s vision of protecting agricultural soils and working farms to secure our region’s local food production for the future. Since 2005, SAHC has protected over 3,000 acres of working farmland through its Farmland Preservation Program. Read more