Record number of hikers complete museum’s hikes


Weatherford Heights. Rhododendron Ridge. Grey Eagle Rock. Do you know what these names have in common?

You do if you are one of the 37 hikers who completed the Swannanoa Valley Museum’s Swannanoa Valley Rim Explorer Hiking Series this year. For the rest of us, these names are three of the high and historic locations traversed during the 11 hikes that make up the museum’s popular hiking program, now in its sixth year.

On Dec. 12, the museum held its annual Hike Series Finishers Banquet to celebrate those who finished the Rim hike series or the new Valley History Explorer Hiking Series. This year, a record number of hikers completed the challenging Rim series, which traverses the 31-mile circumference of the Swannanoa Valley’s ridge lines.

Along with the satisfaction of completing the year-long hiking challenge while supporting the museum’s operating fund, those who finish the series also receive a commemorative Patagonia jacket, purchased at a reduced price from Black Dome Sports by Wendell Begley, the museum board’s chair. The jackets feature the series logo, which was designed by Mary Begley, Wendell’s wife, who is a graphic designer.

Mary is also donating her time to design a logo for the Valley History Explorer Hiking Series, which is now in its second year.

This series explores the seven communities of the Swannanoa Valley - Riceville, Bee Tree, Swannanoa, North Fork, Black Mountain, Montreat and Ridgecrest—on moderate 3-mile hikes throughout the year.

This year, four hikers completed the series - Rebecca Schorr, Andrew Clancy, Cary Miller and Dave Foster.

“Our hiking program is really a labor of love that would not be possible without the hard work of our volunteer hike leaders, museum director Anne Chesky Smith said. “I can’t properly express my gratitude for all that they do.”

The banquet was held at the Lakeview Center at Lake Tomahawk, and more than 60 hike leaders, past and present hike series finishers and their family members attended.

My Father’s Pizza catered the event, providing pizzas at a discounted rate and donating a large salad.

The 37 hikers who completed the series in 2015 are Mike Baldwin, Martha Baldwin, Jane Basford, Janet Blanchard, Charlie Brown, Juanita Bruce, Pam Casey, Georgia Cheek, Judy Davidson, Marie Drum, Kiersten Edwards, Kathy Eison, Jane Faulkner, Tim Faulkner, Shelley Galvim, Becky Huck, Kevin Huck, Charles Jolley, Drew Jorgensen, Ann Lutz, Manny Maladono, Cary Miller, Melzer Morgan, Pat Morgan, John Pajak, Sarah Lee Polk, Sherry Riley, David Scott, Jim Schmid, Sandy Schmid, Sam Shirey, Margaret Stone, Mark Stone, Joe Tyson, Ron Wester, Lee Wilcox and Julie Wilcox.

The museum will be offering both hike series again in 2016. For more, it will host three hiking interest meetings in January.

The first interest meeting will be at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Black Dome Mountain Sports in Asheville will host an interest meeting at 7 p.m.

REI Asheville will host the final meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. All interest meetings are free to attend.

The first Rim Hike of 2016, Weatherford Heights, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 23. Information can also be found online at or by calling 669-9566.