All Current News, Events and Hikes

Solidarity Concert SeriesProtecting our natural resources, preserving our breathtaking views, and safeguarding places where our children can play in nature are more important now than ever. The WNC Solidarity Concert Series, held at THE BLOCK off Biltmore, aims to make donating to environmental and social nonprofits accessible and enjoyable with its monthly concert series.

The first of 12 concerts for 2017 will be held on Sunday, January 29 from 3-5 p.m. with 100% of proceeds benefitting CMLC. Funds will enable us to save our precious lands and waters, care for these places and provide a variety of opportunities for people of all walks of life to get outside and enjoy the beauty that sets western North Carolina apart. Support our work while listening to the sounds of the Tim Doyle Quartet and the Aaron Price Quartet. 

Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door the day of the event. Additional donations are accepted and encouraged. THE BLOCK off Biltmore is located at 39 S Market Street, Asheville, NC 28801 in the heart of historic downtown Asheville.

By supporting CMLC you are helping to protect the lands and waters that make our mountain community such a special place to visit, explore and live. For more information about the WNC Solidarity Concert Series, please contact Jason DeCristofaro at jasdecristofaro@gmail.com


The Lady Slipper Speaker Series is CMLC's new and improved lecture series in partnership with Brevard College! The series will kick-off on Tuesday, January 24th at 5:30pm! Come hear regional guests speak about a range of environmental topics relevant to Western North Carolina. 

The January 24th lecture; "Song of the Woods: Appalachian Forests, Why They Matter, and What You Can do to Support Them" will be presented by Dr. Kathryn Newfont of the University of Kentucky! 

Dr. Newfont is an environmental historian at the University of Kentucky working with the history department and the Appalachian Studies program. She is also the author of Blue Ridge Commons: Environmental Activism and Forest History in Western North Carolina, which won the Appalachian Studies Association's 2012 Weatherford Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award. 

Dr. Newfont was also a long time resident of western North Carolina before moving to Kentucky in 2015. She has graciously agreed to be the first speaker in our new speaker series and will be sharing her wisdom on the region in her presentation which will consider the treasures of our own Appalachian woods, the richest temperate forests on earth. 

What you Need to Know

Time: 5:30 - 7:00pm

Location: Brevard College McLarty-Goodson 125

Every Third Tuesday of the Month!

To learn more about each month's guest speaker, topic and more, visit our Facebook Page

 


CMLC’s Bearwallow Mountain Trail is currently OPEN but is subject to temporary closures this winter

to protect it from damage during the freeze/thaw cycle following significant snow and ice accumulations and subsequent wet and delicate soil conditions.

When temporarily closed, the summit of Bearwallow Mountain will remain OPEN.

Visitors/hikers may walk the gravel road to the top of the peak during instances of temporary trail closure. When closed, please help CMLC take good care of this special place by avoiding use of the Trail and instead choosing to walk the gravel road.

In times of temporary closure, CMLC will reopen the Bearwallow Mountain Trail as soon as possible. Trail closures will reopen when conditions are determined to be less susceptible to tread damage.

Because of the Bearwallow Mountain Trail’s immense popularity and high frequency of foot traffic, its natural surface tread is particularly susceptible to damage following the accumulation of snow and ice and the freezing of its soil followed by thawing. Use of this trail during the freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc on its sustainability and lead to significant damage that requires considerable repair while also negatively impacting the experience of its users in the future. Soil is upheaved in the freezing process, and when stepped on by foot-traffic it is crunched, and melted—a recipe that quickly results in substantial mud and soil displacement. Thus, walking on the trail during these instances will damage it.

In 2016, this process occurred repeatedly and frequently which ultimately prompted CMLC to close the Bearwallow Mountain Trail for several weeks at the end of winter—but only after the damage was done. This Winter, CMLC will strive to lessen the total impact and damage by shorter-term closures based on conditions. Closures should typically persist only a few days to a week, though more significant snow and ice accumulation and/or longer periods of freezing temperatures may cause longer closures. These closures will protect both the trail tread as well as the surrounding natural resources and prevent compounded damages that have occurred in the past under winter conditions.

Other CMLC trails in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge will remain open. While comprehensive closure of CMLC trails may be also beneficial during winter weather and freeze/thaw cycles, these other trails are less susceptible to damage than Bearwallow Mountain because they receive less traffic while also being at lower elevations. Increased traffic on other CMLC trails in the future may eventually cause the need for their temporarily closure during the winter as well.

For questions or more information, contact Peter Barr, CMLC Trails Coordinator, at peter@carolinamountain.org.

Thank you for helping us protect the Bearwallow Mountain Trail!


family traditionSeven-hundred-sixty-miles separate the white sandy beaches of Miami and the rolling mountains of Henderson County. The Fernandez family has been traveling to Western North Carolina from southern Florida for 26 consecutive years. It’s one trip where the destination — not the journey — is truly what matters.

Jose and Kathee Fernandez first visited Western North Carolina with their children, Joe and Ana, in the mid-1980s. The lush forests and welcoming mountains offered reprieve from their busy lives in Miami managing a construction company responsible for a significant portion of south Florida’s roadways and airports.

“It’s a place where you can slow down, work on the land while listening to the birds sing, feel a cool breeze and just be at peace,” reflects Jose. “The outdoor recreational opportunities and interaction with a diverse landscape make it the best place for our family to connect and enjoy together.”

Inspired by the tranquility, scenic beauty and abundance of outdoor recreation, Jose and Kathee purchased a 149-acre farm near Edneyville in 1990. The land boasts creeks, ponds, oak and eastern hemlock forests and pastures where their horses graze. Wildlife seek refuge and thrive. The gentle, rolling hills and the deep woods provide endless opportunities to meander freely.

“We liked it the way it is,” says Jose, who knew he needed to conserve the land in order to preserve it. In 2009, they partnered with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to permanently protect 136 acres of the property. “We didn’t want to ever see it divided and developed,” Jose adds.

Returning to their Western North Carolina home each year has become a tradition for the family, one that is now being passed down to Jose and Kathee’s grandchildren.

Each summer and most holidays, their two children and their spouses, together with the four grandchildren, gather at Jose and Kathee’s mountain home. They gaze out the living room window at Bearwallow Mountain, crowned with a grassy meadow. At 4,232 feet, it’s the highest peak in the widely-visible Bearwallow Highlands range. They hike and ride bikes together on trails that wind through rhododendron, maple and pine, stopping to examine acorns, mushrooms and caterpillars along the way. They eat lunch atop mountain summits, taking in sweeping views of the mist slowly drifting up from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“My first child was born six years ago and it’s important to me that both of my children have summers at the farm as part of their childhood,” shares Ana. “Our kids learn just as much exploring these trails, creeks and mountains as they do sitting in a classroom. It’s also a haven for our family. We connect here and spend quality time as a family, despite the distance between us where we live.”

mountain summitAna and Daniel’s children, Eric, 6, and Sofia, 5, race up the Bearwallow trail, climb on moss-covered rocks and are inquisitive about the plants and insects around them. At the top, they giggle as a grazing herd of cattle greets them — an experience they wouldn’t find among the swaying palms of Miami.

Ana's brother Joe, his wife Becky, and their children Alina, 5, and Joseph, 3, join them. “The four of us now live in central California, but this place captures your heart no matter where you reside,” says Joe.

The family is attracted to the relaxed lifestyle, the warm people and the change of seasons iconic to Appalachia. They understand our natural resources are precious and limited.

“Our family has been able to grow up enjoying the open space and beauty of the area,” Ana says. “We feel strongly that places like this need to be protected and conserved so that our children and their children can have the same experience and appreciation that we enjoy. There is something very special for children and adults alike when we have access to unadulterated nature and beauty. The lesson of caring for our natural spaces started with my parents, and my children are getting a front seat to how we do that in practice.”

Conservation is a passion for the family. Jose and Kathee started a charitable family foundation that has environmental issues as a key focus. “We want to contribute, as best we can, to the betterment of the environment and society in our local communities,” says Jose. “Our goal, as a foundation, is to help create a more sustainable place to live. Part of how we do that is through environmental conservation and advocacy. The land in Western North Carolina is a perfect place for us to do this work, where we can support the area that is so special to our family.”

The foundation has generously enabled the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to save invaluable lands and waters in the Hickory Nut Gorge and surrounding region, allowing people from all walks of life to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the meandering trails, panoramic views and peaceful escape that these natural treasures provide.

“The foundation is a beautiful way for us to keep common threads through our family,” says Ana, who now serves as the foundation's executive director. “In spite of our busy and different lives, we come together to work for good.”

“Connection to the land is essential for human well-being,” shares Jose. He smiles as he describes the way his grandchildren’s eyes light up, mirroring the same excitement his children had uncovering the marvels of these mountains. The tradition of coming together as a family each year to share the simple joys of the land flourishes as a love for nature shines in the next generation.

“Our family loves the open space, the slower pace and the adventure lurking around each corner. We love the balance it gives us to our lives in Miami,” says Ana. “It just feels good here.”


Cookies for lunch? Yes, please! 

Join CMLC for holiday cookies and warm drinks at The Park at Flat Rock on Thursday, December 15th at 12:00pm. Take a stroll around the park with us and learn how The Park was transformed from a golf course into the beautiful community centerpiece it is today. Ginger Brown from the Village of Flat Rock and staff from AmeriCorps Project Conserve and CMLC, will be joining the walk to give insider perspectives on how their partnerships and hard work--and support from the community-- have made this project possible. Plus, find out what is in store for the future! This one-hour event is family-friendly and a great way to get outside with CMLC during your lunch break. Come on out and join us for a fun holiday walk! 

This adventure is open to both members and non-members. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today! To sign up, CLICK HERE


 

Party Rock Fire

A panel of environmental experts will present information about the long-term effects of the Party Rock Fire on the natural environment in Hickory Nut Gorge on Tuesday, January 31st at 6 p.m. in the Community Hall at the Lake Lure Municipal Building. Experts include Clint Calhoun with the Town of Lake Lure, Marshall Ellis with NC State Parks, and Michael Cheek with the NC Forest Service.

The Party Rock Fire burned more than 7,000 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge in November of 2016. While there were no fatalities and no structures were lost during the fire, there are other ways that the fire will affect the local community. The local economy relies heavily on tourism; the Hickory Nut Gorge’s natural beauty and unique plant and animal species are a major draw for visitors. The disturbance caused by the Party Rock Fire could create the ideal conditions for non-native invasive plants to thrive, which can lower biodiversity and affect the beauty of the gorge. In contrast, some of the rare and endangered plant species of the gorge are dependent on disturbances to create suitable habitats for them. There are many potential benefits and detriments from the fire.

The panel will present and discuss information about what the possible effects of the fire will be, when we can expect to start seeing them, and what the community can do to ensure the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge stays healthy. The panel will be hosted and moderated by the Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. It is free and open to the public.

The Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG), based at Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, is compsed of area partners whose mission is to protect the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge by managing the exotic invasive plants on public and private land. WAC-HNG can be a major force in helping to mitigate the possible long-term effects of the Party Rock Fire; support from landowners in the gorge and volunteers from the local community will be critical for WAC-HNG in the months and years ahead.

 


What is Green Gifting?

Have you ever wondered about the impact gift giving has on the environment? Want to know what you can do to give environmentally conscious gifts? Interested in learning how to wrap your gifts the environmentally friendly way? If yes, then come to Hendersonville's Green Drinks on December 8th at 5:30pm!

Our very own Adrienne Brown, AmeriCorps Community Outreach & Education Associate, will be presenting in partnership with Christine Brown from GreenWorks. Their talk will focus on how to give Green this holiday season! 

 

Hendersonville's Green Drinks takes place every second Thursday of the month and features various speakers and topics.


CMLC Holiday Drop-In

Tuesday, December 13th

4:30-6:30 pm

 

Burntshirt Vineyards

2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville

Click Here for Directions

 

Please RSVP by December 8th.

 

Come as you are or in casual holiday attire. Bring your spouse or partner. Hors d'oeuvres and desserts will be served. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Not a current member? Join or renew today

Enjoy a cozy holiday party as we celebrate and thank YOU for saving our beautiful lands and waters!

 

Questions? Contact Laura Pocock at laura@carolinamountain.org or (828) 697-5777 ext. 203.


“There is a wolf in me. …I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.” 

-Excerpt from "Wilderness" by Carl Sandburg

Eagle's NestFor Jodi John Pippin, Sandburg’s poem is a reflection of her experiences growing up at Eagle’s Nest, a summer camp and academic semester school nestled amongst the dense forests, cool creeks, cascading waterfalls and rolling mountains of Transylvania County.

“Once you feel that you belong to the land and that it belongs to you, there is no way to let it go,” says Pippin. “The connection cannot be unheard or unfelt.  It is a rare thing today, to find 143 acres of conserved land that has 90 years of life-changing stories to go with it.”

Over the past six years, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy worked with Eagle’s Nest to permanently protect more than 75% of the 184-acre property, saving the invaluable educational, outdoor and cultural adventures that so many generations keep coming back to experience.

As a child, the Blue Ridge Mountains cast an enchanting spell on Pippin. As a teenager, she slow danced at camp for the first time knowing she could relax and just be herself… even while stepping on her partner’s toes. As a young adult, morning strolls through the rhododendron thicket made her feel completely at peace with the world. She fell in love with her now husband on the front porch of the dining hall while she was a camp counselor. They have three children and, as an adult, Pippin has watched them with pride as they grow comfortable in their own skin as campers and students at Eagle’s Nest.

Pippin’s story is not unique.

“I wanted my children to be able to grow and experience independence in a safe, positive, inspiring environment away from home as I did,” says Cissy Byrd, who attended the camp in the late 1960s and 1970s. “I wanted them to be influenced by and build trust in people beyond our family. I wanted them to find joy and build confidence in themselves and feel the rewards of contributing to and being part of a community. I knew that they would get these things at Eagle's Nest.”

Over the decades, Eagle’s Nest has expanded from its beginnings as an all-girls camp when it first opened its doors in 1927. It transitioned to a coed camp in the 1940s, chartered as a nonprofit 501c3 in 1950, started offering specialized wilderness-based programs for teens in the 1970s and added The Outdoor Academy (academic semester school) for high school sophomores in the 1990s. Today, all these programs operate under the umbrella of Eagle’s Nest Foundation.

“Eagle’s Nest emphasizes a child's development with a nurturing community in nature,” shares Mo Waite, whose parents, Alex and Hannah Waite, ran the camp for more than three decades. Mo grew up at Eagle’s Nest, studying salamandersandwaterbugs and learning how to use an axe and cross cut saw.

The multi-generational connection continued, with Mo’s wife Helen, an experiential educator, taking the helm from his parents in 1978. His daughter, Noni Waite-Kucera, attended camp and since 2000, has served as the Executive Director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation. Today, Mo’s grandchildren listen to the sounds of bullfrogs at the lake and make s’mores around the campfire on the hill just as he did in the 1940s.

“With all these changes, the mission remained unchanged,” says Mo. “The clear vision of my parents when they founded Eagle's Nest has stood the test of time through many advances.”

Eagle’s Nest allows campers and students to strip away the complexities of life and experience a simpler way of living. To take a deep breath of fresh mountain air, touch the towering pine trees and gaze up at the stars twinkling in the dark night sky.  

“The times that I spent lying in a field of tall grass watching the clouds roll by and letting the crickets leap across my cheek, the times that I took groups of kids wandering up the trails to find the giant Frasier Magnolia...these are forever imprinted in my mind,” says Pippin. “That land is full of variety and surprise.  I will always love it and feel that I am a part of it.”

outdoor school

Educational experiences are deeply steeped in every aspect of life at Eagle’s Nest. Myriad English, math, music and science classes teach critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and tolerance. But, those same skills are also acquired in the 12 cabins where the soft breeze permeates the screen windows, in the dining hall where the rain pounds down like drums on the roof, and in the open air Arts Arena where projects are crafted with natural materials found steps away.

“I'm often trying to live out the person Eagle’s Nest empowered me to be in the greater world,” shares Jamey Lowdermilk, “to be open, kind, creative, to be diligent and light-hearted.  I gained these values making my way through the many experiences Eagle’s Nest offers.”

Lowdermilk continues to apply these lifelong skills today, as a law student. “So much of our days are absorbed with stress driven by more stress,” says Lowdermilk. “Eagle’s Nest taught me to get to the heart of what matters. Am I contributing to meaningful work? Am I in good company? Are there opportunities for play, rest and reflection?”

Eagle’s Nest continues to serve as home to a diverse community of young people from around the world. It has welcomed students from Cuba and youth living with diabetes. Conserving this land ensures that our children and grandchildren will continue to connect with the wonders that only nature can provide.

“Eagle’s Nest is special for its commitment to authentic, lived experiences; for its commitment to the past and to growing into the future,” says Lowdermilk.  “It empowers young people to explore their unique perspectives, ideas, and curiosities while reconnecting all of us to natural rhythms and native landscapes.”

Pippin believes that without the important partnership of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Eagle’s Nest Foundation, generations of campers and students would risk losing their roots, their magic and their connection to that land.

“The intricate mushrooms that pop up in between classrooms, the rays of sunshine that drop down through the trees, the sound of the hawk circling during group activities,” shares Pippin. “These are the precious moments that will continue to fall into the laps of those who are lucky enough to walk the paths of Eagle’s Nest at 43 Hart Road.”


 

Eight Hikes. Free Gear. Save Land.

TAKE THE PARDEE & CMLC WHITE SQUIRREL HIKING CHALLENGE 4!

We've partnered with Pardee Hospital to bring you our new White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 4!

We want to take you to exciting destinations--including brand new trails and recently protected lands. The Pardee & CMLC White Squirrel Hiking Challenge encourages outdoor enthusiasts—and anyone interested in keeping western North Carolina’s mountains beautiful—to explore and discover the lands that Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has helped preserve while staying active and improving your health.

  1) Bearwallow Mountain
  2) Grassy Creek Falls
  3) Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower
  4) Headwaters State Forest
  5) Rhododendron Lake Park
  6) The Park at Flat Rock
  7) Wildcat Rock
  8) Your Choice: Float French Broad or Hike Little Bearwallow

 

Select a hike above for trailhead directions & trail descriptions

WHITE SQUIRREL HIKING CHALLENGE 4

 

                                                                          

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

About the White Squirrel

Challenge Rules

FAQs

Tips for a Successful Challenge

 


WSHC Champions who are CMLC Members* or Pardee Participants will receive a Congratulary Package upon completing the Challenge. The package includes:

  • The famous white squirrel embroidered hiking patch
  • A certificate of completion
  • Recognition in our online and print publications
  • $10 gift certificate for hiking gear at Hendersonville's Mast General Store

*Please note for CMLC participants:  You do not need to be a CMLC member to enroll and start the Hiking Challenge, but you do need to be a CMLC member to receive your Congratulatory Package.

Hike to support land conservation as, together, we continue our pursuit of saving the places you love.

Not done with Hiking Challenge 3? No problem! Click here to finish this challenge. 

Want to become a CMLC Member? Join today!


 


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