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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

SAHC Expands Habitat for Endangered Bat

The Virginia big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii) is an endangered bat that only lives in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Virginia big-eared bats prefer caves in karst regions (areas underlain with limestone bedrock and many caves and sinkholes) dominated by oak/hickory or beech/maple/hemlock forest.

SAHC expanded the bat’s habitat in the Highlands of Roan with the recent purchase of the 136-acre Views at Cranberry tract, located within one half mile of the Cranberry Iron Mines tract on which the NC Wildlife Resources Commission holds a 200-acre conservation easement in order to protect this endangered creature. Read more

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…