Around Town: Book chronicles Carolina Mountain Club’s 100-year history

TAKE A HIKE: Author and avid hiker Danny Bernstein has written a definitive history of Asheville's Carolina Mountain Club. Photo courtesy of CMC

When Danny Bernstein realized the Carolina Mountain Club’s 100th anniversary was approaching, she decided it was time for someone to write the comprehensive history of the oldest hiking and trail-maintaining club in Western North Carolina. And that someone, she knew, should be her.

Bernstein, who has been active with CMC since moving to Asheville in 2001, has authored several hiking guides, a book chronicling her walk across North Carolina on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and a history of DuPont State Recreational Forest.

“And so, frankly, I was the obvious person to do it,” she says.

The result is Carolina Mountain Club: One Hundred Years, which tells the story of the club from its 1923 founding as a spinoff of the Southern chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club to today. The nonprofit group leads hikes, builds and maintains trails — including sections of the Appalachian Trail and Mountains-to-Sea Trail — and works with public and private partners on conservation efforts.

The club has had an enormous impact on hiking in the region, Bernstein says. In the 1920s and 1930s, it built much of the Appalachian Trail in the South. Later it established the Art Loeb Trail through Pisgah National Forest, created a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the mountains and worked to protect Max Patch, a bald mountain on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, from development.

To research the book, Bernstein spent countless hours at the Buncombe County Special Collections Room at Pack Memorial Library. She also interviewed longtime members, including Lew Blodgett, who joined the club in 1972 and turns 100 next month. “Not only did he have stories, but he also had kept every bit of paper, every newsletter, every hike report since he joined the club,” she says.

Other members wrote essays for the book on such topics as WNC geology and the importance of trail maintenance.

“The club’s history is really the story of hiking and maintaining the trails in Western North Carolina,” Bernstein says. “But it is also [about] people. I try to emphasize that we are a group of friends. We have people who kind of run their lives around CMC. It’s a big sense of community.”

Bernstein will discuss the book at 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, at UNC Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 300 Campus View Road. For more information or to buy the book, visit

Black Mountain in the spotlight

The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry, a new environmentally themed young adult novel by author Rebecca Laxton, is set in Black Mountain — kind of.

Laxton describes the Black Mountain in the book as a fictional reimagining of the town she has grown to love.

“I wrote many of the scenes while sitting at the top of Kitsuma Peak, overlooking the valley, using real landmarks and creating others from my imagination,” explains Laxton, who lives in Charlotte. “Other scenes were written after eating at Trailhead Restaurant, walking down the aisles of the general store, strolling in and out of the town shops and sitting on benches in town.”

The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry, published by Warren Publishing in March, tells the story of a celebrity who grew up in WNC and returns to buy property for a ski resort. But the title character and her middle school environmental club understand the huge environmental impacts the ski resort will have, including the destruction of the town’s monarch butterfly garden and meadow.

“The Asheville area is the perfect backdrop for this novel because it was the first Bee City USA, the first city in the nation to champion pollinators and educate residents and businesses about the essential role pollinators play in supporting a healthy ecosystem,” Laxton says.

An educator and school psychologist, Laxton first got to know Black Mountain when her son was attending Camp Ridgecrest for Boys and her daughter Camp Crestridge for Girls each summer as teens.

“They came home with the best stories, which I borrowed for my novel,” she says. “The book begins with Emma and her best friend, Sophie, watching the sunrise from a mountaintop, and that scene is based on my daughter Gracie’s sunrise hiking experience when she was 13.”

For more information or to buy the book, go to

Mind matters

Tibetan Buddhist monk Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche will discuss his book The Power of Mind at two upcoming community events. He will speak from 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at the Mary C. Jenkins Community and Cultural Center in Brevard and from 7-8:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.

The Power of Mind is a modern guidebook to the Buddhist practice of lojong, or mind training, based on ancient techniques for transforming emotional pain, anxiety and stress into mental well-being.

Khentrul Rinpoche is the abbot of Mardo Tashi Choling Monastery in Eastern Tibet, where he established a retreat center and monastic college.

Both events are free, and registration is not required.

The Mary C. Jenkins Community and Cultural Center is at 221 Mills Ave., Brevard. For more information, go to Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville is at 1 Edwin Place. For more information, go to

Songs of the South

Garden & Gun magazine has partnered with Explore Asheville to release its first limited-edition album, which was pressed at Citizen Vinyl.

Asheville folk artist Julia Sanders is among the musicians featured on “G&G Vinyl Vol. 1,” a compilation curated by the magazine’s contributing music editor, Matt Hendrickson. The album also features songs by The Prescriptions, singer/songwriters Tommy Prine and Kelsey Waldon, hard rock duo Larkin Poe and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

“This … was the perfect opportunity for our city to shine a spotlight on the talented voices and creative manufacturing in our own backyard and across the South,” Vic Isley, president and CEO of Explore Asheville, says in a press release.

The Charleston, S.C.-based Garden & Gun reports on the South’s culture, food, music, art, literature and more.

A limited number of copies of the record are available at Citizen Vinyl, 14 O. Henry Ave. It can also be ordered at

Enter the dragon

Dragon Phoenix, a Woodfin martial arts school, will present a celebration of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Carrier Park.

Classes will be held in the grassy area just outside the park’s pavilion. No experience is needed to participate in the free event, which is meant to introduce people to the various forms of tai chi.

Carrier Park is at 220 Amboy Road. For more information, go to

Art competition

The office of U.S. Rep. Chuck Edwards is accepting submissions for the 2023 Congressional Art Competition from high school students living in North Carolina’s 11th District. The winners of the competition will have their art displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

“This competition is an opportunity for all those who visit the Capitol building to see the incredible talent from our mountains,” Edwards says in a press release. “I’m excited to see all of the artwork and how our high school students use their creativity for this competition.”

Submissions are due by Thursday, May 4. For information about how to enter, visit



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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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