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LOCAL BRIEFS: Scenic hikes, renowned pianist at First Baptist, memorial concert

Pianist and composer Ian Mulder will perform along with a 42-piece orchestra on Sunday at First Baptist Church. Pianist and composer Ian Mulder will perform along with a 42-piece orchestra on Sunday at First Baptist Church.

White Squirrel Challenge offers eight scenic hikes

The popular White Squirrel Hiking Challenge is back.
Participants are invited to take on eight hikes, all on lands that Conserving Carolina has helped protect, enhance or open to the public. The Hiking Challenge includes two new Conserving Carolina trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge. It also includes the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, lakes and waterfalls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, expanded trails in Bracken Mountain Preserve, a beautiful creek in the Green River Game Lands and the ever-popular Bearwallow Mountain with its panoramic views.
Hikers who take the challenge will get to experience eight special places, including some they may not have discovered yet. They will visit some of this region’s most spectacular hiking destinations, as well as hidden gems and beautiful new trails that just opened. They can also earn a prize package that includes their White Squirrel Patch as a badge of honor and exclusive perks from local businesses that support conservation.
“We want to give people the opportunity to explore our amazing protected lands and strengthen their personal connection to conservation,” says Ericka Berg, Conserving Carolina’s community engagement manager. “This is the sixth version of the Hiking Challenge and we’re excited that in this version we can feature two new Conserving Carolina trails with gorgeous views. We’re also excited that for every one of these eight hikes, there’s a tie to recent conservation successes.”
For example, at Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the East, newly protected land upstream helps keep the river and surrounding forest pristine. At DuPont State Recreational Forest, Conserving Carolina has helped to protect thousands of acres, including the newly added Continental Divide Tract. Conserving Carolina has also added hundreds of acres to the Green River Game Lands in recent years. Conserving Carolina volunteers helped expand trails in the Bracken Mountain Preserve near Brevard. And, hikers on Bearwallow can now continue their trek through the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge, with an expanded trail system.
Some of the trails in the challenge are open to mountain biking. In these cases, biking a trail can count toward completing the challenge. For those who love to swim, fish, or just be near the water, five of the hikes feature rivers, lakes or waterfalls.
The White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 6 is sponsored by the conservation-focused real estate firm Witherspoon Platt + Associates (WPA).
“At WPA, we are avid supporters of Conserving Carolina and their mission to protect our environment and facilitate experiences with the natural world,” John Witherspoon, broker-in-charge, says. “We are excited to be an active part of this year’s Hiking Challenge because it will provide people with an incredible opportunity to be outside and to enjoy the beautiful place we are lucky enough to call home.”
Local businesses providing perks as part of the prize package include Appalachian Coffee Company, Lazy Otter Outfitters, Murphy’s Naturals, and YAM Yoga and Massage.
The challenge is free and open to all. However, to earn an awards package and White Squirrel Patch, you must also be a Conserving Carolina member. Memberships are $35 for individuals and $60 for households. To learn more about the Hiking Challenge and get started, go to


Renowned pianist performs at First Baptist


World renowned pianist and composer Ian Mulder will be in concert at First Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, along with a 42-piece professional orchestra. Mulder will feature music from his 20th solo album, “Love Divine VII,” featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, recorded at historic Abbey Road Studios in London. He has recorded more than 250 CDs with renowned instrumentalists and vocalists, and has conducted several eminent orchestras, including the Moscow Symphony, the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic and the Amsterdam Symphony.
The concert event is free but seating is limited. For more information, visit or contact the church at 828-693-3493.


Memorial concert is set for Saturday

“Prayers and Remembrances,” a memorial concert marking the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 and additionally a commemorating lives lost to Covid-19, will be performed by the Carolina Concert Choir, the Asheville Symphony Chorus and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 20 Oak St., Asheville, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at Grace Lutheran Church, 1245 Sixth Ave. West, Hendersonville.
Along with the musical compositions, original poetic works by local high school students and adults reflecting on these life-altering times will be presented. Chloe Tackett, high school senior, Emily Brownfield, 16, Destiny Smithers, a senior at North Henderson High, Gerri Fore of Hendersonville and the Rev. Dr. Carl McKenzie will present read poetry and prose contributions. Two paintings by local artist Sara Arell depicting survival and love will be displayed.
Face coverings and proof of a Covid-19 vaccination will be required for attendance. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and available at and, as well as at the door.