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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