All Current News, Events and Hikes

CMLC’s Bearwallow Mountain Trail is CLOSED temporarily,

effective Monday, February 6th, 2017, to protect it from damage during the freeze/thaw cycle following significant ice accumulation and subsequent wet and delicate soil conditions. Recent warm weather has led to a significant thaw event that has left the trail particualrly muddy and wet. 

The summit of Bearwallow Mountain remains OPEN.

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

We hope to reopen the trail as soon as possible. Trail closure is expected to last only a few days; conditions will be reassessed soon and the trail will be re-opened once it is 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 at this time 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.

At this time, other CMLC trails in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge will remain open. While comprehensive closure of CMLC trails may be also beneficial, 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


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!


 


This CMLC Adventure has been postponed due to poor air quality and visibility; it will be rescheduled for Spring 2017!

Come out and join CMLC for a hike and adventure at Fryingpan Mountain! This hike, led CMLC's Trails & Recreational Lands Coordinator and author of the book Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, Peter Barr, will offer breathtaking views much of the land CMLC protects in Henderson and Transylvania counties. Our adventure will lead us to a historic and scenic fire lookout tower used by the US Forest Service, where we will have the opportunity to climb partially up the tower for the spectacular view. 

This hike is a part of CMLC's new Adventure Program. Come hike with us and learn more about CMLC's new Adventures and the other outdoor recreation opportunities we help make possible! 

The hike will take place on Saturday, November 20th at noon. 

If you would like to learn more about this trail visit our Hiking Challenge page by clicking here.

This adventure is open to both members and non-members. Space is limited; sign up today to reserve your spot. Once you register you will receive an email with more details about the hike. 


Click here or on the cover above to read the full volume.

In this issue:

  • A River Runs Through It: Growing up on the Green
  • Yellow Lady Slipper Volunteer Award: Cathy Cooper
  • Coming Soon to a Forest Near You: Headwaters State Forest
  • 16th Annual Conservation Celebration Successes
  • New AmeriCorps Project Conserve & Board of Trustee Members CMLC Teams Up with Boys and Girls Clubs
  • ...and More!

We are proud to present Cathy Cooper with our Yellow Lady Slipper Award in appreciation of her dedicated service and commitment to CMLC.

“If it weren’t for CMLC, I would still be searching,” admits Cathy Cooper. “CMLC has changed my life.” Cathy wanted to find like-minded people who share her passion for the outdoors. Though speaking with Cathy, it’s hard to imagine anyone as passionate about nature as she is. The sheer wonder in her voice is sure to alleviate any doubt in even the most skeptical person.

Fellow volunteers, Al and Barb, are to thank for Cathy becoming a dependable Trails Crew member. Cathy started volunteering with CMLC last winter, but her love affair with nature is a much longer relationship. She has been hiking Bearwallow for nearly 40 years. Since the trail improvements in 2010, she and her shepherd mix, Maddie, go up every single day. Cathy jokes, with a good bit of truth, that Maddie looks forward to those walks more than her food.

Nothing holds Cathy back. She is typically one of the few women attending Trail Crew days and doesn’t mind the hard work, even if she does tease Peter and the rest of the crew about trusting her to make gravel. Trails Crew seems to be the perfect fit for Cathy; she is able to joke around with the crew while enjoying the outdoors and seeing first-hand the fruits of her labor. Most people Cathy interacts with don’t fully grasp her fascination with spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors. She shares, with a laugh, that she is thankful the folks at CMLC understand.

When Cathy is not volunteering with CMLC—she can still be found outdoor—mountain biking and hiking. She hopes more people become inspired to get outside. Seeing the Trombatore Trail project was a great accomplishment. “The more trails the better,” Cathy smiles. Cathy is hopeful that the Little Bearwallow Trail will give her the same sense of reward because it would provide people with more choices and the option to make a whole weekend of exploring trails.

“Keep the Earth beautiful and go outside every chance you get, because it is ever-changing,” advises Cathy. Now, it’s up to us to discover the same passion Cathy has found with CMLC. 


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