Cumberland Transit | 2807 West End Ave. Nashville, TN 37203 | (615) 321-4069

CT BLOG » Hiking

January 18, 2017 In Tennessee, all creeks seem to lead to the Cumberland River, but it is when you leave these mosaicked waters and head deep into the rhododendron wrapped forests that you find the true mightiness and potential of water.  Once a seabed hundreds of million years ago and...

Our day on the Cumberland Plateau

January 18, 2017

In Tennessee, all creeks seem to lead to the Cumberland River, but it is when you leave these mosaicked waters and head deep into the rhododendron wrapped forests that you find the true mightiness and potential of water.  Once a seabed hundreds of million years ago and now sitting 2000 feet above sea level, the Cumberland Plateau is a mecca for the most beautifully unique, yet perfectly carved rock formations this side of the Mississippi. Shaped by time's erosion and the persistence of water cutting through the sandstone, you would think the hand tools of man carved out each wrinkle, smoothed out each slab, and painted the rocks using the most beautiful palettes of purples, oranges, reds, and greens. However, the greatness of these rocks do not overshadow the other features of the land. A crystal creek flows over, around, and under glistening stones as the old growth frames the serpentine path, yet there is so much vastness. It is a rather delicate creek home to rather delicate creatures, yet here they flourish. Each bend in the trail leads to a furrow of rock herding us back into the gorge. In one corner of the rock wall, runs just enough water to create two tiers of falling water yet not enough to roar and rip through the canyon. Everything is coated with moss and beads of water, even the humidity captures rays of daylight giving this particular area a foggy glow. It immediately feels like we are in a far away rainforest, far away from human influence, and far away from the Tennessee we call home. Yet, home we are. 

(Click on one of the images to see more of our staffers Ethan and M.E.'s day)

The Crazy Owls is Cumberland Transit's trail running club that meets every Monday at 7pm at the Deep Well Entrance of Percy Warner Park.  We usually split up into groups to accommodate pace and distance.  If you want to get crazy one Monday night, come and join us.  Bring water and...

Crazy Owls Trail Maintenance Day at Percy Warner Park

The Crazy Owls is Cumberland Transit's trail running club that meets every Monday at 7pm at the Deep Well Entrance of Percy Warner Park.  We usually split up into groups to accommodate pace and distance.  If you want to get crazy one Monday night, come and join us.  Bring water and a headlamp.  And if the weather is gnarly, check our Instagram to make sure we are meeting.

We run the trails almost every week, so we decided it was time to help out and give our time to some good old fashioned trail maintenance.  All of us here at Cumberland Transit consider Percy Warner to be our backyard, adventure sanctuary.  It's very important to us to be good stewards of this place.

We met at the usual place, but this time it was daylight and we were wearing work clothes instead of our usual running attire.

Paul from Friends of Warner Parks maintains the trails at Percy Warner.  He was our crew chief for the day and planned work for us to do on the Warner Woods Trail.  When you see him out on the trails, give him a high five.  He's an awesome dude!  If you have been on the "white trail" during the winter, you know that it can definitely use some love.  There are a few sections that get really "soupy" muddy.

We spent the day using fire rakes to clear water bars and also added gravel to some of the really muddy sections.

Even with 10 volunteers and 3 hours, it didn't feel like we got much work done.  So if you enjoy these trails as much as we do, please consider becoming a member of Friends of Warner Parks.  We plan do to these trail maintenance days at least once a season, so if you want to help let us know.

Frozen Head December 11, 2016 This past Friday we woke up at 5:30 AM, loaded up the car with all of our backpacking gear and Milo, and drove east through the frigid Tennessee countryside. Only two and a half hours later we were transported from the Nashville basin to the...

Hiking at Frozen Head

Frozen Head

This past Friday we woke up at 5:30 AM, loaded up the car with all of our backpacking gear and Milo, and drove east through the frigid Tennessee countryside. Only two and a half hours later we were transported from the Nashville basin to the towering mountains of Frozen Head State Park. After a few glances at the map, we were off walking on frozen trail through seemingly untouched land.

As we wound around the mountain, switchback after switchback, we climbed in and out of the morning sun up the primarily oak forest of the Chimney Top trail. As we moved into the sunlight, sounds of distant birds and squirrels were constant, as the trail switched back into the shadows it became eerily quiet and the only noises we heard were our footsteps and Milo’s breathing. It quickly became apparent that we had the entire park to ourselves apart from the workers in the valley below. M.E. noticed in the shade there were thousands of hexagonal ice crystals lining the trail just underneath the top layer of leaves. A thick layer of crystals had formed underneath the dirt pebbles on the trail and gave the appearance that we were walking on floating rocks. It was magical. We were not necessarily happy that the park was empty, but excited that we got this incredible mountain all to ourselves for the cold December day.

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After a period of time we followed the trail the the top of Rough Ridge where we stopped to look at the small sandstone capstones that littered the top of the ridge. For a brief moment we were unsure if we had reached the top of our climb, but as we looked towards the east we noticed a peak at least a thousand feet taller than where we were standing. Then the trail began downwards. One of the things learned after thousands of miles of hiking is that trail builders usually do things for a reason. It seemed that the only reason we would be descending off of a ridgeline was that there was a water source at the bottom of the valley. About fifteen minutes of descending later, the prediction stood to be true as we crossed over Rocky Fork Branch and then immediately began ascending again.

There are things in the eastern United States that unfortunately are uncommon; the beautifully colored darters, the high towering American chestnuts and Hemlocks. While we did not get to see any of these, we did get to walk through a very old growth oak and hickory forest as we reached the top of the mountain. The trees towered high above our heads and appeared to be well pruned upwards of seventy feet. Even though we see trees everyday in Nashville, and even big trees when we hike in Percy Warner Park, the size and multitude of these trees stopped us in our tracks. Eastern Tennessee’s rich history of logging and mining extracted most of the large timbers in the state to use for large buildings, structure for coal mine shafts, fuel to melt iron ore and removed trees to clear land for agriculture (link below). At that time, resources seemed inexhaustible and there was not much care taken to preserve the trees. One hundred year old pictures of the American chestnuts show trees rivaling the redwoods of the west. Trees that are now nearly extinct in our region. To walk through a forest of massive trees that had to have preceded this time is a very powerful thing.

Soon we arrived on top of a steep ridgeline and decided to go ahead and eat a couple snickers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Milo had dog food and a few treats of course). Even on a short hike, maintaining energy to continue is crucial for an enjoyable day. Although it is possible to hike a long distance with little food, hills that would normally seem easy become more and more difficult. A few hundred feet later and we came to the fifteen to twenty foot tall sandstone capstones of Chimney Top. Icicles hung over a small overhang in the rock that appeared to create a perfect campsite. To the south a small trail led up to the top of the rocks where a sign read “Chimney Top Elev. 3120.” This prominent overlook felt massive compared to the elevation of Nashville (~500 ft) only a couple hours away. The Crab Orchard mountains appear to form out of nowhere from the surrounding farmland, making them feel even taller.

After hanging out at the top for awhile, we decided to head back to the ranger station before the trails closed. We talked and laughed about the amazing day on our way down the mountain, filled with the happiness and joy that only comes from spending the day outside. We had not even been phased by the sub freezing weather and gusts of wind due to the excitement of the beautiful hike. There is something to be said about this feeling. What causes it? The fresh air, the solitude, the physical exertion, the silence, or even just the visual stimulation. No matter what the exact reason is, these are all reasons that we are hiking the Continental Divide this summer. Just the opportunity to prolong that feeling is refreshing to think about. That feeling drives both of us everyday.

Below the ridge, our car became visible again and we had completed another beautiful hike in a beautiful park. A park that is not as well travelled as some of the others in the state and does need donations to continue to maintain and protect its beautiful trails. To donate to Frozen Head State Park or to just find out more information, visit the park or click the link below.

LEARN MORE AND DONATE

My name is TJ Maurer,  I live in Chattanooga, TN, and I am a sales rep for Fayettechill. My wife and I moved to Tennessee 5 years ago not for a job or out of necessity.  We moved here because where we are now, while I am writing this, is...

One of our Sales Reps TJ Maurer, On Balance in Work & Play

My name is TJ Maurer,  I live in Chattanooga, TN, and I am a sales rep for Fayettechill. My wife and I moved to Tennessee 5 years ago not for a job or out of necessity.  We moved here because where we are now, while I am writing this, is exactly where we wanted to be – which is a whole other idea of serendipity we can talk about on a long drive or around a campfire one evening.

 

I climb rocks, I ride bikes through the foothills, I chase trout, I run about both visible and invisible trails through forests, I sleep in my truck, I have two chickens, and when I am not doing any of that, I rep for outdoor brands that I believe in.  I escape to the mountains as often as I am able, which seems to motivate me to work as hard as I can while in town, which then leads to anticipation and drive for more play. Both the love of home and the strive for balance in all facets of life seem to be two similarities shared with Fayettechill, myself, and countless other individuals.

Seeking balance in life is a simple idea, ancient and easy to practice, yet seemingly overlooked. I strive for a balance of work and play, of urbanscapes and natural environments.  A balance of encircling myself among like minded individuals and also those who think differently.  I see it pretty simply – I work hard and, thus, play hard.

 

 

 

But there is an imbalance in work and play that is two sided. On one hand, those who despise their job. Problem doesn’t lie with the 40-hour work week, but within the increasing number of people who settle for situations they detest. On the other side, those who deny jobs all together, a generation of social media enthusiasts quitting their job, living out of a van, and traveling to see the world. I’ve done this myself and I can assure you I would make the decision to travel and drop everything again, again, and even again. However, we have begun to romanticize people dropping everything and unsubscribing to the conventional way of thought previous generations laid out before us. If one thinks a bit more about the consequences of this lifestyle, especially if we all lived this way… we would not exist, the luxuries we have would not be available, and there would be absolutely no way to live in vans and chase adventure.

I hope I portrayed both sides of the equation fairly here.  The main point I want to make is that both ways of living are not mutually exclusive.  We can work a conventional job, even a 9-5 one, but find balance through habitual satisfaction of our wanderlust. I think the simplest way to practice this balance starts by appreciation of the zip code you live in.

Since living in Chattanooga, my concept of vacation has changed. Now when on vacation, I do not dread that last day or even the day leading to that last day of the vacation, the long road back home and the restart of daily life.  It could be because our vacations are adventures in the woods, the high desert, or lesser known coastlines – all generally without warm showers.  At the end of it all, our return to the daily grind is coupled with the return to our hometown of undulating trails, warm hued southern sandstone, overwhelming vitality of the Appalachian foothills, a community of some of our best friends, and warm showers.  

 

I imagine it to be no different for the folks at Fayettechill. They adventure all around the world, climbing mountains, fishing rivers, and surfing waves.  Despite their near utopian travels and weeks abroad, I can safely bet they long for Fayetteville at the end of it all.  They are motivated and inspired to realign themselves with their work and continuing to better themselves, the company and those around them upon returning.

Despite working a “real job”within the real economy, we can still attempt to inspire both ourselves and others through the other 80 hours a week. We can still take post worthy pictures, we can still embellish the already pretty awesome stories around the campfire. We can still strive to create – create photos, stories, climbs, trails, flies, gardens, and shiny new bikes. We can stop wasting time thinking about greener grasses and see the absolute best in where we are and where we are going.  We can love the home and community we chose to reside, grow, and learn within.  We can be involved a bit more than we maybe feel comfortable doing and meet a few more people outside our social circle. Hell, maybe have a beer with them. These are things we can do. These are things we should strive to do as people and organizations and collectives of people. As we do it, we motivate others to do the same. We play hard and work harder, all for an end goal to leave this planet a little better off than we came into it. We all take a personal responsibility to inspire ourselves and those around us. We aspire to be a collection of individual who value both the journey and the destination.

Words & Photos by TJ Maurer | @ticklejeans

This weekend is Thanksgiving, which means we are all bound to eat far too much food as we sit around a table on Thursday with our friends and family. It also means that the beginning of the Holiday season will be fully upon us. Team Green Adventures will be offering...

Team Green Tuesdays: Fall Hikes This Weekend!

This weekend is Thanksgiving, which means we are all bound to eat far too much food as we sit around a table on Thursday with our friends and family. It also means that the beginning of the Holiday season will be fully upon us. Team Green Adventures will be offering a few different events this weekend to help you walk off that turkey and stuffing and forget about the sales.

Saturday our friends at Team Green Adventures are doing two different hikes, the Fall Colors Day Hike and the Intermediate Backpacking: Frozen Head Hike. 

The Fall Colors Day Hike will take place at Virgin Falls and be an 8 mile hike with beautiful views of Tennessee Fall. The trip starts at 7AM and is free for members of Team Green Adventures, but limited to 15 hikers.

The Intermediate Backpacking: Frozen Head trip starts at 7:30AM and will cover 10.5 of strenuous terrain, so if you're up for a challenge this is your trip. On the hike you'll travel to Lookout Tower for some amazing views of the surrounding area. The trip is free for members, $5 for nonmembers. More info on membership to Team Green Adventures. 

Before your hike make sure you having everything you need to get you through, including water filtration or water bottles. Stop by Cumberland Transit and we'll be glad to help you out.

 

 

 

Make sure you have the right gear for your next adventure! On the SECOND WEDNESDAY of every OTHER month, join us and Team Green Adventures to learn about the latest trends in outdoor gear. After the workshop, we'll draw a door prize winner for $50 Gift Card to Cumberland Transit....

Dec 14 6-7PM - Gear Workshop: Winter Backpacking

Make sure you have the right gear for your next adventure! On the SECOND WEDNESDAY of every OTHER month, join us and Team Green Adventures to learn about the latest trends in outdoor gear. After the workshop, we'll draw a door prize winner for $50 Gift Card to Cumberland Transit.


On December 14, we will cover all the basics you'll need to know about backpacking in the cold, including:

  • Sleeping bag & tent ratings
  • Base layers & winter apparel
  • Backpacking stoves & warm foods
  • How to efficiently pack your backpack
  • Footwear for snow/ice hiking
  • Planning for emergencies

Feel free to ask questions throughout. Registers will be open late, so feel free to arrive early or stay late to browse the racks. Team Green Members can enjoy 10% off non-sales items when you show your membership card.

Please RSVP for this event on our Facebook event page so we can get an estimate on attendance. Walk-ins are welcome.

2016 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
February 10th- Winter Backpacking
April 13th- Bikes & Cycling Gear
June 8th- Summer Backpacking
August 10th- Day Hiking
October 12th- Orienteering (Maps, GPS & Compass)
December 14th- Winter Backpacking

Visit Team Green Adventures for more details.
Make sure you have the right gear for your next adventure! On the SECOND WEDNESDAY of every OTHER month, join us and Team Green Adventures to learn about the latest trends in outdoor gear. After the workshop, we'll draw a door prize winner for $50 Gift Card to Cumberland Transit...

Oct. 12 6PM - Gear Workshop: Orienteering

Make sure you have the right gear for your next adventure! On the SECOND WEDNESDAY of every OTHER month, join us and Team Green Adventures to learn about the latest trends in outdoor gear. After the workshop, we'll draw a door prize winner for $50 Gift Card to Cumberland Transit (address 2807 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37203).

On October 12, we will cover all the basics you'll need to know including:

  • Topographic maps vs. contour maps
  • How to read maps (plus some activities to test your skills)
  • GPS Coordinates & what they mean
  • How GPS devices work & how to use them
  • How to use a compass (plus some compass activities to test your skills)
  •  



    Feel free to ask questions throughout. Registers will be open late, so feel free to arrive early or stay late to browse the racks. Team Green Members can enjoy 10% off non-sales items when you show your membership card.

    Please RSVP for this event so we can get an estimate on attendance. Walk-ins are welcome.

    2016 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
    February 10th- Winter Backpacking
    April 13th- Bikes & Cycling Gear
    June 8th- Summer Backpacking
    August 10th- Day Hiking
    October 12th- Orienteering (Maps, GPS & Compass)
    December 14th- Winter Backpacking

    Visit Team Green Adventures for more details.

    Interested in learning the basics of casting a fly rod? Ronnie Howard is an expert fly fisherman and guide and he will be holding a class teaching the basics of fly casting Saturday, May 7th at 9:00am. $10 to reserve your spot. Spots are limited so call ahead to reserve your...

    Intro to Fly Fishing May 7th 9:00am

    Interested in learning the basics of casting a fly rod? Ronnie Howard is an expert fly fisherman and guide and he will be holding a class teaching the basics of fly casting Saturday, May 7th at 9:00am.

    $10 to reserve your spot.
    Spots are limited so call ahead to reserve your spot. 615.321.4069

     

    As soon as I heard that running the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim was a thing, I knew I had to do it.  It's been on my list of goals for a while now and this year I finally made it happen. Disclaimer: Running the Grand Canyon Rim to...

    Trip Report: Running the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim

    As soon as I heard that running the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim was a thing, I knew I had to do it.  It's been on my list of goals for a while now and this year I finally made it happen.

    Disclaimer: Running the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim is tough!  Although, with proper training and gear, it's not impossible.  Grand Canyon National Park sees tons of visitors in a year; so, as with any adventure in a National Park, do your best to cause as little impact as possible.  Be polite to other folks experiencing the canyon.  Just because you are running doesn't make your experience any more important than others.  Announce yourself to hikers and always yield to folks coming uphill.  Pack out everything you take down and don't forget to have fun.

    My wife and I have both worked in the outdoor industry and we have very similar gear.  One of us will purchase a nice piece of gear, the other one will be jealous and then purchase the same thing in a different color.  So when we enjoy the outdoors together, we look like a sponsored team of some sort.  We are not sponsored, but we do call ourselves "Team Thienel."

    For this particular adventure, Team Thienel flew into Phoenix and we drove North to Sedona to do some acclimating and fun running.  Sedona is an awesome place with enough Trail Running, Mountain Biking, and Rock Climbing to last a lifetime.  One of our particular favorites was Wilson Mountain.

     

    In the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, Wilson Mountain is the highest peak at 7,122 feet.  The trail leading up to the peak is steep and rugged.  We got pretty lucky and saw very few people.  Living in Nashville, we don't get many opportunities for real elevation.  Although the altitude was mild, we were feeling it in our flat-lander lungs.

    After a couple days running and eating Mexican food, we headed up to the Grand Canyon.  I had considered changing the day I would run down into Canyon because the forecast wasn't looking so hot.   Turns out the forecast was off by a day. So when we arrived it was very cold and windy.  It had been about 5 years since I had been to the Grand Canyon and I had a picture in my mind of what it looked like.  When I actually showed up and stepped up to the edge, that picture in my mind was nothing like the real thing.  This view can definitely stir up some emotion.

    We snapped a few photos, took in the view, and then headed back to the hotel to pack up and go to bed early for our 4:00am start the next day.  I really like ultra marathon races, but my favorite outdoor pursuit would be long, unsupported runs in the wilderness.  I have done plenty of long runs, but this was my first time doing 50 miles unsupported.  I tried to go as light as I safely could.  I went back and forth on whether or not I would run in my Salomon S-Lab vest or the Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 20.  I decided to go with the Salomon Vest and stay light.  The weather was perfect with a high of about 65, so I didn't need a ton of layers.

    My Gear List:

    • Petzl Nao Headlamp
    • Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles
    • Patagonia Houdini Pullover
    • Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts
    • Patagonia Airflow Singlet
    • Patagonia Duckbill Hat
    • Defeet Wool Arm Warmers
    • Khatoola Micro Spikes
    • Spot GPS device
    • 2 Buffs
    • Suunto Ambit 2 GPS Watch
    • Icebreaker Sierra Wool Mittens 
    • Swiftwick Aspire 4 Socks
    • Altra Lone Peak 2.5 shoes
    • 2 GU Flasks 
    • 2 Camelbak insulated Podium bottles
    • Body Glide
    • As much high calorie food that would fit a gallon ziploc bag

    Some highlights to point out that made the day more comfortable:  The Petzl Nao headlamp is my favorite headlamp ever – its comfortable, brighter than I need, and the Reactive technology gives it a great battery life.  A friend let me borrow the Spot GPS device.  It has a tracking feature that allows friends and family back home to follow your progress via the web, as well as send out pre-written text messages when you so choose.  Also, if things go way bad wrong you can send out a distress signal.  I will probably purchase one of these for future long runs.  There was snow at the North Rim, but nothing to warrant the Micro Spikes, but better safe than sorry.  Body glide was my best friend, I re-applied several times to prevent chaffing.  The GU flask was perfect for this run since I needed to pack everything out.  I ate GU every hour, so this system saved me from having to pack out 10 or 15 sticky GU packets.

    Our alarm went off at 2:00am and I jumped right up with excitement.  I am usually a cranky zombie in the mornings, but on days like this I have no problem getting up. I had read that the mule trains start down the canyon at 5, hence the early start.  I also wanted to be finished before the sun went down.  We packed up our things and drove to the Bright Angel Trail head.  I chose to run the Bright Angel Trail to the North Kaibab trail and back the same way.  This route is slightly longer but not quite as steep as running the South Kaibob Trail.  My wife, Amber, was running to the river and back and we thought the Village near the Bright Angel Trail Head would be a cool place for her to wait for me (and also eat pizza).

     

    We got to the trail head and tried to take a selfie, but quickly gave up because it was dark and also 18 degrees.  It was really cool to have this part of the park, which is usually very crowded, all to ourselves.  We both had an overwhelming feeling that we were doing something wrong – like we were sneaking into the Grand Canyon or something.  My original plan was to run with her to Indian Gardens (about 5 miles), but we were having so much fun that I decided to hang back with her and run together all the way to the river.  I'm so glad I did.  We got to the river just as the sun was coming up.

     

    We said our goodbyes at Bright Angel Campground just on the other side of the river, and I headed  off for the North Rim.  The next 10 miles were beautiful and easy and I was feeling really strong.  That changed as soon as I started to climb.  I definitely underestimated how hard climbing the North Rim would be.  I knew it would be hard, but I had to do some serious work to get it done.  I had never been to the North Rim before and the views were truly spectacular.  Getting close to the serious climbing, this one was one of my favorite views:

    I topped out feeling a little slow but in overall good shape.  I knew now that I could finish strong and do the second half faster than the first.  At the North Rim Trail Head, I met a guy named Brian and his either 3 or 4 kids (after running that much details get blurry for me.)  The youngest of his kids was 5 and they were doing R2R2R in 3 days.  Pretty cool! I wish I could have done that when I was 5!  Brian's girlfriend had opted to stay in the Cottonwood Campground closer to the bottom rather than hike all the way to the North Rim.  Brian was nice enough to take my picture and, in return, I would deliver a message to Dawn, his girlfriend, that he and the boys would be back down later that afternoon.  So I finished my snack and headed back.

     

    One of the real challenges was planning where to fill up with water.  Most folks choose to run it a little later in the year, more like late April or May instead of late March .  The North Rim doesn't open until May 15th.  You can always check the back country office for updated water availability so you can plan accordingly.  Because of the cool weather (high of around 65), I was able to get away with not filling up at the North Rim.  If it was any hotter, I would have taken some sort of water filtration.

    The rest of the run was pretty uneventful.  As I got closer, I tried to push it to go faster so Amber wouldn't have to wait as long (and maybe she would have a piece of pizza and a coke waiting for me.)  For me, the later hours of an ultra seem to pass very quickly.  It seems like every time I looked at my watch another hour had passed, and it was time to eat again.  I had a few really dark moments, but I forced my self to sit down, empty the sand from my shoes, and eat something.  Then I told myself that I chose to do this, it's fun, and this is a really beautiful place.  As I got closer to the South Rim, I started seeing more and more people.  By the time I got to the top, I had to push through a crowd to reach Amber.  It took 13.5 hours total, but to me it seemed like only a couple of hours had passed.  This is one of my favorite experiences ever, I really liked the fact that I could see most of the trail that I ran when I finished.  Maybe next year I will do R2R2R2R2R...

     

    Two weekends ago, just after turning 45, I finally had the opportunity to go to “camp.” I was never able to attend camp as a kid, and the Cumberland Transit Trail Running Retreat was my birthday gift to myself.   My friend Cheryl Moss and I left Clarksville around 4:00...

    CHICKS LIKE ME: CT TRAIL RUNNING RETREAT REVIEW

    Two weekends ago, just after turning 45, I finally had the opportunity to go to “camp.” I was never able to attend camp as a kid, and the Cumberland Transit Trail Running Retreat was my birthday gift to myself.

     

    My friend Cheryl Moss and I left Clarksville around 4:00 p.m. for the hour and twenty-minute drive down country roads to Lyles, TN, which is somewhere near Dickson. I was glad to have one of us driving and one of us navigating! The retreat center was a bit off the beaten path, but the Cumberland Transit folks had placed signs at several important turns, which turned out to be very helpful.

     

    The retreat center was gorgeous.

     

     

    Cheryl and I checked in and found out we were assigned to the BIG basement bunk room with 20 other ladies. We were lucky enough to get bottom bunks.

     

     

    I was honestly a little apprehensive about 22 of us sharing one room with only two full bathrooms, but it worked out fine. In fact, I think being in that room allowed me to make many more friends than I would have otherwise.

     

    Dinner that first night was outstanding, probably my favorite meal there. We had acorn squash stuffed with jamabalaya. I chose the meat version, and Cheryl had the vegetarian version. We both enjoyed kale salads on the side.

     

    After dinner, I went downstairs to the bunk room, and about 10 of us, all total strangers, sat in a circle and just talked. We chatted about running and nutrition and parenting. We talked about races we had done in the past and what we were training for. We had an immediate camaraderie. As I sat there talking with these women, I couldn’t help but think,“These are my people. They get it.”

     

    At 10:30, the lights were turned out. We had an early morning run planned. I had hoped to sleep, but I found that I just couldn’t quite fall asleep or stay asleep. (That’s my own fault for choosing a bed near the bathroom!)

     

    A light breakfast was served the next morning, and then we hit the trails. We could choose a 3-mile, 5-mile, or 10-mile run. I chose to run five miles. The trails were still lush and green for the most part and were surprisingly hilly! Steep hills greeted us every few minutes. I have a hilly half marathon coming up, so it was good training!

     

     

    The support on the run was great. We had a run leader and a sweeper for every distance, so no one could possibly be left behind. There was an extremely well-stocked aid station with gels, water, sports drink, and even some real food.

     

    After the run, we had brunch with a very filling egg and spinach casserole. Again, the food was excellent. Then it was time to break into small groups for clinics. There were clinics on cooking and nutrition, stand-up paddleboarding, and running form. Around noon, we had a giant group yoga session. That was the first time I’ve ever done 80 minutes of yoga! (photo courtesy of Cumberland Transit)

     

    After yoga, a light salad was served that was both vegan and gluten-free. I will say I ate healthier this weekend that I have on any weekend in recent memory!

     

    Then it was my turn to stand-up paddleboard! I had only done it once before, so I was a little nervous. Our instructor was fabulous. She was so energetic and gave excellent instructions. It was obvious she loved the sport! This is the end of our one-hour lesson. Our group was great. No one fell into the water. (photo courtesy of Brooke Widmer with Soulshine SUP in Nashville)

     

    After paddleboarding, I took some Merrell running shoes and some Altra running shoes for short test runs. I also scored some free stuff from the reps! I left the retreat with both a Merrell buff and an Altra buff (so versatile!), a Merrell hat and water bottle, and Altra socks, plus a small North Face swag bag.

     

    That evening, we had a huge meal of delicious bbq from a local joint, plus tons of vegan and gluten-free sides. As a gluten-intolerant gal, I really appreciated these options.

     

    For our entertainment that evening, we had wine, beer, and motivational running videos. I left this weekend more motivated to run than I have been in a while! The videos we watched were incredibly inspiring.

     

    That evening, I think everyone slept better. Miles of running, nearly an hour and a half of yoga, and an hour of stand-up paddleboarding will have that effect!

     

    Finally, on Sunday morning, we left on our final group run. A few of us chose to make up our own route and explored the acres and acres of the retreat center. Splashing through a creek on a cool summer morning with like-minded women was so much fun.

     

    We had a huge brunch after the run, and then it was time to pack up and leave. I said my goodbyes to the amazing women I had met, promising to see them on the trails in the future. In fact, this weekend, I hope to reconnect with a couple of them at a trail race in Dickson.

     

    This retreat was so well done. The organizers did an incredible job serving great food, planning fun and educational activities, and giving us a BREAK from the real world.

     

    The women in attendance were smart, kind, accomplished, and like-minded. Some were experienced trail runners, some were novices; others were triathletes, weight lifters, paddleboarders, and yogis. There were teachers, nurses, doctors, bankers, stay-at-home moms, and fitness industry professionals. ALL were friendly and encouraging.

     

    It was nice to spend a weekend in the woods, no make up, hair in a ponytail, being active and eating nutritious foods with chicks like me.

     

    Post by: Donna Pittman

    For anyone with an adventurer’s heart, or even a bad case of wanderlust, the ceaseless hum of an urban environment can sometimes become too much to handle. After my old ’89 Ford Bronco II, lovingly named Becky, decided she needed a new fuel pump in early June, I was forced...

    OCOEE RIVER BOUND!

    For anyone with an adventurer’s heart, or even a bad case of wanderlust, the ceaseless hum of an urban environment can sometimes become too much to handle. After my old ’89 Ford Bronco II, lovingly named Becky, decided she needed a new fuel pump in early June, I was forced to stay close to home. There are plenty of things to keep one busy in this town, but, after two months of confinement to the urban landscape, I needed an escape. No longer than two days after my beloved truck was repaired, I headed out with my friend Tim for a well-overdue adventure. We loaded Becky down with some whitewater boats, our mountain bikes, and all of the essentials to spend my birthday weekend in the woods.

     

     

    Ocoee River bound, we jammed to some good tunes and talked over the river beta we could remember from our last run down. The Tanasi Trail System runs adjacent to the river, so we planned for two days of morning rides and afternoon paddling to cool off from the brutal August sun. The river was gushing from the dam when we arrived. We knew they had also released the dam above the Upper Ocoee, which runs at a solid Class III+/IV and includes the 1996 Olympic section used for the dual slalom event. Since neither one of us is too smooth in a boat, we opted to run the more familiar Middle Ocoee, which still boasts some stout rapids at Class III.  But first, we hit the trail before the afternoon heat cranked up.

     

     

    The trails that make up the Tanasi trial system are some of my favorite in Tennessee. Just west of the North Carolina border, the elevation kicks up quickly and makes for some punchy climbs and short, steep descents. Both of us were aboard our steel hardtails and felt great ripping through the rocky, rooty riverside terrain. We were able to burn about 8 miles of trail in just over an hour and a half. One of which included the Thunder Rock trail. This one-way spur was the most talked-about descent in the area. As we clipped in to head down, I was only able to get in two pedal strokes before a pin in my chain popped out, leaving me more than disappointed and a little worried that our plans for a ride the next day might be ruined. I decided to make the most of the trail ahead of me and kicked my bike scooter-style down the trail until I found enough momentum to carry me through the turns. I couldn’t help but dream that I was World Cup Downhill Champion Aaron Gwin on his famous chainless championship run from last season. I made my way down, clumsily kicking for extra speed when I had the chance and doing my best to lay off of the brakes. When I made it to the bottom, Tim and I both shared a laugh about my bum ride and coasted back to the car to gear up for our run down the river.

     

    We ran into some old friends from our Wilderness First Responder class we had taken the year before, and decided to put on with them so we could try out some new lines. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this crew was way out of our league. All of them were instructors in some capacity at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and they could handle their boats. After we both took a crack at their lines, we decided we had better stay above water for the rest of the day and forget trying to keep up with those guys. From there on out it was smooth sailing. We cruised down the rest of the river, both making it to the other side of Tablesaw, the longest and most daunting rapid on the river.

     

     

    Once we took off of the river, it was time for a hot meal and a few brews. We cruised up a dirt road until we found a spot that was tailor-made for a couple of hammocks and a campfire. We kept it simple when it came to dinner. There’s nothing better than fire-roasted brats to put some calories back in an empty stomach.

     

     

    The next day dawned with that unmistakable smell of mountain air, and the certainty of an adventure to be had. We got in another two-hour ride (thanks to a quicklink in my chain) and one more push down the river. The sun shone bright in the Tennessee sky and we managed to keep our gear and our bodies intact this go ‘round.  By the time we hit the final takeout, I was burned, sore, bruised, and happier than I had been in weeks. Sometimes it just takes a little escape and some good company to put the world right again.

     

     

    Post by:  Jake Lee

      Cumberland Transit has been a Nashville staple since 1971.  If you ask a native Nashvillian where to go to find quality outdoor gear and knowledgeable staff, they will inevitably tell you to head to Cumberland Transit on West End.  They either know, Allen “The Godfather”, Ronnie “Grumpy”, or “Bungalow...

    THE CUMBERLAND TRANSIT EXPERIENCE

     

    Cumberland Transit has been a Nashville staple since 1971.  If you ask a native Nashvillian where to go to find quality outdoor gear and knowledgeable staff, they will inevitably tell you to head to Cumberland Transit on West End.  They either know, Allen “The Godfather”, Ronnie “Grumpy”, or “Bungalow Bill” in footwear.  CT is a perfect example of a successful locally owned business.  It is the exact opposite of big box stores and franchised businesses.   At CT we consider Nashville our family.  Just like a regular family, you take care of your loved ones and as part of our family, we want to take care of you.  This means that we aren’t trying to sell you gear you don’t need or don’t want.  If we don’t have what you need and can’t order it, by all means go to a competitor and take care of yourself.  We believe that a successful business is not about selling the most products, but reaching your customers on a deeper level and building a relationship of trust.  If we can do this, we trust that you will come back even if it is just to say hello.  Every week we get people coming in the store who got their first bike from us and are now buying one for their son or daughter.  These are the kind of relationships we cherish.  


    If you have the time, we want you to leave the store more knowledgeable than when you opened the door.  We staff each section with experts who have years of experience.  Our staff includes road and off-road bike racers, yoga instructors, rock climbing guides, ski instructors, Appalachian Trail thru hikers, fly fishing guides, ice climbers, and this just scratches the surface.  If you know what you need and want to get in and out fast, then we will gladly point you in the right direction.  Otherwise, we use the gear we sell and are more than happy to talk about it and share our knowledge.  We don’t want you to just survive your next adventure, but thrive having the knowledge and the best gear possible.  Please come in and check us out whether you are just visiting or are a Nashville native.  Check us out on Facebook and as always stay venture ready!

     

    Until next time,

    Phil

    After spending the last 6 years working in Utah and taking advantage of the infinite outdoor adventure opportunities, I’ve moved to Nashville to start another chapter in my life. The 1,631 mile drive was not the first time I’ve traveled across the country to search for new life experiences. It...

    Phil's Finds

    After spending the last 6 years working in Utah and taking advantage of the infinite outdoor adventure opportunities, I’ve moved to Nashville to start another chapter in my life. The 1,631 mile drive was not the first time I’ve traveled across the country to search for new life experiences. It was a little nerve racking, and there was plenty of apprehension & second guessing. Still, absolutely every time I’ve gone outside my comfort zone and taken a risk, it has been rewarded with inner growth, wonderful new friends, beautiful and different scenery, and exciting opportunities.

     

     


    Upon arriving in Nashville, I immediately wondered who the adventurers were, what they were doing and where were they doing it. Nashville is known for a lot of things but not as a mecca for high outdoor adventure. Everyone I asked talked about Chattanooga, Asheville, and Red River Gorge as the closest places to find high adventure. But, with a full time job and limited free time, I then asked the question, what can we do right here? The common answer is typically, “not much.” Then I think and skeptically ask “why not?” I realize that there aren’t mountains and roaring rivers like Colorado, or picturesque slot canyons like Utah and Arizona, but we must have the opportunity for adventure. We have to be more creative in how we seek our outdoor thrills because we don’t have huge expanses of open land. In a city of foodies, up and coming musicians, dive and hip new bars, the adventurer has to look at the world in a different way to find their outlets. It could be anything from trail running, slack lining in your backyard, rappelling some local cliffs, or attempting to boulder a large rock you find while hiking. The adventures are here, but we have to search through the urban expanse to spot them.

     


    This past week I found my first adventure in the Nashville area. People had told me about some cliffs by the Cumberland River where you can rappel and even do a little bit of climbing. I was a little skeptical, but always open to exploring new areas. Since it has been months since I’ve been rappelling, I, of course, had to make sure that all my climbing gear was set and organized (in case my new acquaintances were right). Remember, plan ahead and prepare so that you are ready for anything. For that matter, be careful to assess your own abilities and don’t even attempt an effort like this until you get proper training and the right safety equipment.

     

    Every travelogue mentions how it’s about the journey and not the destination, but can’t it be both? I came to this place to rappel and ended up finding an environment that looked more like Ireland than one you’d find within a 30 minute drive of Nashville. Just look at these beautiful unspoiled clumps of soft green moss in the middle of winter!

     

    Here I’m preparing for descent down the cliff. If you look closely you can see the remnants of a fire showing others have ventured here before me and have possibly experienced how wonderful food tastes out in the open. Chacos on, water knots tied, and an equalized anchor, I was almost ready for my adventure to begin.

     

    Just out of sight of this picture is one more ledge to stand on. It’s actually the perfect transition into rappelling. Fortunately for me, it was necessary so that I could safely check to make sure that my rope hit the ground. Luckily I had about 15 feet to spare, making this a 135’ rappel. Always make sure your rope hits the ground before you start your descent.

     

    This rappel is going to be a little different during the summer. Can you guess why? Not sure if this is kudzu, but it’s going to be a bit more problematic getting through this leafed out growth during the summer. The main beta (technical tips) for this rappel is to kick out just before getting to the ivy and rappel really quickly until you are past it.

     

    Just as we were calling it a day and getting ready to head home, we were rewarded with the site of this huge and silent barge that happened to be passing by. It was a true reminder of the power of nature. The Cumberland River carved the cliffs that we just rappelled and continues to provide an effective means of commercial transport to this day.

     

    Technical Gear

    Bluewater II 7/16” Static Rope 150’

    Bluewater 1” Tubular Webbing 50’

    Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

    Black Diamond ATC-XP Belay/Rappel Device

    Black Diamond RockLock Carabiner

    Black Diamond Super 8 Belay/Rappel Device 2014

    Patagonia Down Sweater

    Chaco Z/2 Unaweep Sandal

     

    Until the next find,

     

    Phil Fair

      When my husband and I traveled across the country to spend a few days in Yosemite National Park, we expected seclusion, quiet, and a departure from reality. Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for how populated and tourist-heavy the park would be in Yosemite Village. After two days and one night...

    TWO NIGHTS IN TUOLUMNE MEADOWS, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

     

    When my husband and I traveled across the country to spend a few days in Yosemite National Park, we expected seclusion, quiet, and a departure from reality. Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for how populated and tourist-heavy the park would be in Yosemite Village. After two days and one night seeking solace on busy trails and mountain overlooks, we headed to Tuolumne Meadows for part two of our Yosemite experience.

     

    It’s only about 54 miles from Yosemite Village to the meadows, but it takes at least 1.5 hours to get there. If you’re the type who gets carsick (like me), get ready for winding mountain roads with not shortage of twists and turns. After climbing from 4,000 feet to 8,000 feet elevation, we finally reached our campsite at the Tuolumne Meadows campground. Since it was starting to get dark, we headed straight for our site to unpack and get set up.

     

     

    The campground is rustic with dirt roads and no access to electricity. For us, it was perfect. We had plenty of fellow campers, but once night fell, we could hardly see them. The campground is near dozens of trailheads, mountain lakes, streams, and meadows. In other words, there’s plenty to do.

     

    At 8,000 feet elevation, the temperature dropped dramatically at nightfall. To our relief, our 30-degree sleeping bags proved to be worth the extra cost. The next day, we sought out a plan for where to hike. We only had time to try out one trail, but we picked out one for next time, too:

     

    Lembert Dome Trail. This was the trail we chose for our early morning hike. It was perfect. Our legs were shot after a strenuous hike the previous day, and this path was short, but difficult enough to keep us interested. The 1.4-mile trail leads hikers to the top of Lembert Dome, where you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the valley floor. We spent an hour at the top making new friends and taking lots of pictures before turning back. (2.8 miles round trip, moderate).

     

     

    Cathedral Lake Trail. If we had more time, this would have been the trail of our choosing. The 7-mile trail leads hikers up a 1,000-foot elevation gain, which provides incredible views of Cathedral Lake. The entire hike takes about 6 hours, and it’s one of the busiest trails in Tuolumne Meadows. (7 miles round trip, moderate).

    After we descended Lembert Dome, we headed to Tenaya Lake to hang out on the shore and eat some lunch. This photo pretty much speaks for itself:

     

    At sunset, we wandered into the Tuolumne Meadows to watch for wildlife and watch the sun sink behind the mountain ranges. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually see any wildlife, but when we heard a pack of wild coyotes howling, we decided to head out before they came to find us.

     

     

    I wouldn’t necessarily change how much time we spent in Yosemite: We managed to do and see a lot in 3 days, and we wanted to check out King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks before headed back to Tennessee. But next time, we’ll carve out more time for hiking and exploring in the Tuolumne area. It was the trip we were after: seclusion, quiet, no cell phone service, and plenty of time to sit and stare off in the distance. Our neighbors at the campground were fly fishermen, climbers, backpackers, and serious hikers. Our beginner’s approach to camping and hiking definitely put us in the minority. And that’s a fun place to be when you’re out in the wild.

    by Megan Pacella When my husband and I were invited to a wedding near Los Angeles, we immediately started brainstorming ways to turn the wedding trip into a backpacking trip. After lots of planning and researching, we decided to fly into San Francisco, rent a car, and drive to Los...

    CAMPING AND HIKING IN YOSEMITE VALLEY

    by Megan Pacella

    When my husband and I were invited to a wedding near Los Angeles, we immediately started brainstorming ways to turn the wedding trip into a backpacking trip. After lots of planning and researching, we decided to fly into San Francisco, rent a car, and drive to Los Angeles by way of three National Parks. First on our list was Yosemite.

     

    To avoid elevation sickness, we decide to start out by camping at Yosemite Valley (approximately 4,000 feet) before moving up to Tuolumne Meadows (approximately 8,700 feet). When we arrived to our campsite at North Pines campground, we were a little disappointed to find that it was full of RV campers. With plenty of electricity available, the site never got dark, and we didn’t really feel like we were in the woods yet.

     

    The valley is great if you’re doing a major backpacking trip and you want to end your time in the park with a shower, a hot meal, and a cold beer. Since we spent our first two days there, we weren’t ready to have all the comforts of home just yet. This isn’t the place for you if you want a rustic, secluded retreat to Yosemite.

     

    To get away from our fellow tourists, we decided to try a few different hikes. Here are our picks for great, moderate to strenuous hiking trails in Yosemite Valley:

     

    Vernal Fall Trail. Avoid the lower trail completely. It’s a paved path that takes about 20 minutes to complete, and you’ll be surrounded by iPhones and cameras the entire time. The upper trail offers better views and secluded areas—however, the falls are completely dry by the end of summer. This is a great trail for spring and winter hiking when the snowmelt has produced an incredible waterfall. It’s easy to get to the trailhead: Just hop on the shuttle and get off at stop Happy Isles, stop number 16. 4.8 miles (round trip), moderate.

     

    Four-Mile Trail. This is one of the best ways to get sweeping views of the entire valley. From Four Mile Trail, you’ll catch views of El Capitan and Half Dome, as well as several lesser-known mountain ranges and the valley below. It’s not a long hike, but it’s tough. During the four-mile hike, you’ll climb about 3,200 feet on switchbacks and rocky terrain. Around the 3-mile mark, Union Point provides a great resting area and overlook, but I’d recommend completing the rest of the trail and making your way to the top. The way down is faster, but hiking poles are highly recommended. 4.8 miles (one way), strenuous.

     

    There are so many great trails that it was hard to stick with two, but time didn’t allow us to spend any more time in the valley. Next time we visit, we hope to attempt these two trails:

     

    Half Dome. Hiking Half Dome involves some advanced physical training to prepare your body for a long day of hiking and strenuous climbing. The 14- to 16-mile round trip trail takes hikers anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to complete, so most people start around sunrise. The trail takes hikers up almost 5,000 feet, so the views are worth the trip. We would have attempted the hike if I hadn’t found out I was pregnant shortly before our vacation (whoops!). 14 to 16 miles (round trip), strenuous.

     

    Snow Creek Trail. This is supposed to be a pretty grueling hike that starts out on the valley floor and climbs up 2,700 feet to the rim of Tenaya Canyon. Parking isn’t available at the trailhead, so plan to park at Curry Village and take a shuttle to the trail. Once you’re there, allow about 8 hours to complete the hike. It gets hot as you climb, so prepare with plenty of water. 9.4 miles (round trip), strenuous.   

     

    After a day and a half in the valley, it was time for us to retreat to Tuolumne Meadows, where the crowd thinned out and our camping conditions were rustic. But that’s for another post on another day. In the meantime, here are some shots of our time in the valley:

     


    Our view from the Yosemite Valley floor.

     


    Another view from the valley floor.

     


    We stopped for a rest about one mile in on Four Mile Trail.

     


    This is what you’ll see after climbing about 1,000 feet on Four Mile Trail.

     


    Overlooking Yosemite Valley from about 6,000 feet.

     


    The view from Union Point on Four Mile Trail.

     


    Standing on the edge of Union Point.