Bragging about PAC in borrowed boots

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My father was the president of the Carolina Mountain Club when I was a child growing up in Asheville. Some fathers spent their Sundays on a golf course; mine was on a hike.

My dad still hikes weekly, and is still a member of the club. At 80 years old, he’s also in great shape.

I cannot boast the same great shape for myself, and must confess, I did not get the hiking gene from my father.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

When a California friend recommended a great hike to me once, she amended her review of it at seeing the expression on my face, and promised it was just a “prissy hike.”

I could probably handle a prissy hike, but not much more.

When a photographer in L.A. hired me to shoot some stock photos of a hiking couple, I had to borrow the wardrobe. If you ever see a photo of me and a gray-haired man hiking in some dime store frame or an ad for erectile dysfunction, that’s not my husband. And those aren’t my hiking boots. It’s all Hollywood magic.

When I moved to Tryon nearly four years ago, I couldn’t help but notice all the spectacular mountains within view, and I knew there was probably some great hiking, both prissy and otherwise.

What I didn’t know was that there was an organization called the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

PAC first caught my attention on Facebook when I saw they had partnered with Foothills Humane Society to schedule hikes that included shelter dogs. Hikers could spring the homeless pooches for the day for a walk in the woods. As an animal rescuer and advocate for homeless pets, this idea made me very happy. Almost as happy as a dog on a hike.

I decided to learn more about PAC, which is as easy turning to someone and asking, “Do you know anything about PAC?” at a cocktail party/art opening/Friday night at La Booty.

Apparently, there are lots of people here who hike/love nature/are not prissy/know about PAC.

PAC’s mission is “to protect and conserve natural resources with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecological, and agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds.”

Learning this was a watershed moment for me. (Not really, but I couldn’t resist using the word twice in a row.)

Founded in 1989, PAC is a non-profit Tryon-based land trust that protects and serves our natural resources. The organization works with landowners through voluntary agreements (easements) to allow them to continue to own their property while preserving them.

By helping landowners to preserve their land, PAC is protecting the future of our forests, wildlife, and scenic vistas. PAC holds 68 conservation easements and owns 25 tracts of land, helping to protect over 8,600 acres of land in the area.

If you check their website, , you’ll find links to maps of hiking trails, walking paths, and playgrounds all around Tryon as well as PAC’s organized hiking series.

PAC also partners with the Walnut Creek Preserve, offering monthly family-friendly free Saturday morning programs at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center. Be there June 27 at 10:30 a.m. to hear biologist Bill Boone talk about bears and bear reproduction. I’m not going to make a joke about that.

PAC relies on the generosity of the community, and making donations is as easy as clicking a button on their website. You can also volunteer in many ways—by serving on a committee, helping with events, trail maintenance, or native plant rescue.

If your Monday mornings are free, you can join PAC’s “Kudzu Warriors” and help eradicate kudzu and other non-native invasive species of plants. What better way is there to start your week than doing battle with bad plants?

I like the idea of becoming a PAC Kudzu Warrior, although I’m not sure I have the wardrobe for it. I might need to borrow some boots. And maybe some matching gloves. Do you think they have a prissy division? That sounds good to me. I hope to see you there.