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  There is a magic amount of training that should be done for a long hike, without overdoing it. Injuries can happen due to over-training just as much as they can happen from not training. Here are some areas that we think are worth addressing before setting out:  FEET -...

How to Train for a Thru-Hike (Especially when you live at 522 feet above sea level)

 

There is a magic amount of training that should be done for a long hike, without overdoing it. Injuries can happen due to over-training just as much as they can happen from not training. Here are some areas that we think are worth addressing before setting out: 

FEET - No matter what you do to prepare physically for a thru-hike, your focus, first and foremost, should be on your feet. A hard lesson to learn is that what we do to our feet now affects what our feet will be able to do later. Most feet can handle long distance, that is a beautiful part of being human in that we are truly endurance animals. However you can thank evolution for the fact that our feet are so prone to sprains, plantar fasciitis, and the other ugly faces of foot pain. Discrepancies between the potential of our feet and reality of our foot health date back to the beginning when we became bipedal creatures. Whether or not we live an active lifestyle, foot pain is merciless and can cause not just discomfort but also a change in our daily lives. With all that said, it is crucial to always take care of your feet from the very first step we take, unfortunately we may not be graced with the advantage of knowing from the beginning that we some day will want to hike across the country. Some of us will just have to settle with falling in love with our feet the moment we decide to take our thru-hike dream and turn it into an attainable reality. So where do you go from here?

  1. STRETCH - Stretch, Dammit. It is not complicated, and most of the time you can actively stretch while sitting at a desk, in class, in a meeting, wherever your want! There are no excuses. Here are some of our favorites:       

  • Ankle Circles- Sitting down, or standing, isolate one ankle by drawing air circles with your toes. Continue for 30 seconds before reversing the direction of the circle. Repeat with the other ankle.

  • Flex Stretch- Sitting down, flex one foot by slowly pulling, with the toes, the foot towards your shin. At the top of the flex, slowly point the toes away from your shin, stretching down the top of the foot. Continue for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other foot.
  • Roll ‘Em Out- Grab a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, Nalgene water bottle, or foam roller. Sit the roller underneath your arch and roll your weight around on the roller. You are the judge of how much weight to put into your foot. Repeat on the other foot. If you really want a treat, freeze water in a water bottle before rolling ‘em out.       

Stretching will be a huge factor in maintaining and building strength as well as decreasing the chances of injury.

     2.  STRENGTHEN- The best way to build foot strength especially for a thru-hike is to hike. Add miles incrementally, and hike with your weighted pack when you can. If you are taking on extra work to save up money for a thru-hike, we can relate, you might not be able to hike as much as you would like to during the week. Try out these simple exercises to get your feet in tip top shape to hike the distance:

  • Calf Raises- Standing tall rise up on the ball of one foot. Lower your heel towards the ground, without resting it on the ground. Repeat for 20 reps, and then switch to the other foot. This can be performed on a flat surface or on the edge of a step.
  • Toe Crunch- Place a towel or handkerchief on the ground and step one foot on the area. Spread your toes out wide, and then scrunch the towel up with your toes as you bring them back in.  Repeat 15-20 times before switching feet.

    3. SOAK- Treat your feet to a weekly Epsom Salt soak. All you need is some hot water, Epsom Salt, and 20 minutes to revive your feet. Do not forget to drink lots of water afterwards!

   4. SUPPORT- Wear good shoes. The definition of good shoes is a pair of properly fitting shoes that provide the support and matches the profile of your foot. It is extremely easy to go by the shoe your friend recommends or your friend’s friend, but in reality, everyone’s foot needs are different. What shoe may be best for one hiker, may not work for you. Do your research in the field, not just online. As you start hiking around, pay close attention to your posture and how you distribute your weight on your feet. Do you roll your foot outwards when you walk or during normal motion? Do you roll your feet inwards? Overpronation and Supination are important to address before you get on the trail, don't ignore it. Do you have a high arch or a flat arch? These are all factors to take into consideration when picking out a trail shoe that works best for you. A good tip if you do not know where to start is to hit up a knowledgeable gear shop to have an expert check out your gait and offer recommendations.

CARDIOVASCULAR - Hiking, and just simply staying active, during the months leading up to your hike is important. Your body will have a lot of adjustments to make as is. Practice climbing elevation by hiking more difficult trails. If you live only a couple of hundred feet above sea level, pick a hill and repeat climbing it over and over. Your heart will be happy and carefree on the trail. Plus all of us low elevation dwellers will need any little bit of help for high altitude and peaks when we get there.

HIPS/LEGS- Another good reason to hike before you hike is to get your legs in shape. We mentioned before but can mention again the benefit of hiking especially with a weighted pack. It is a good idea to experiment with different paces to see what is comfortable for you, what you can work towards and what is too much. To supplement the hiking, stretching is a great way to maintain mobility and to help with recovery in between your hikes. In addition to hip flexors, the IT band is not one to leave out! There are so many stretches out there that target the hips and supporting muscles. Here are a handful of our favorites and what they stretch:

  • Frog Pose (Inner Thighs)- Begin in Table Pose. Take your legs out a little wider, keeping your knees in line with your ankles and feet. Take getting into this pose slow, and know your limits - don’t push it! Walk your arms out on the floor in front of you. Your elbows can rest on the floor, if you are there. Exhale slowly while pushing your hips backwards until you feel the stretch in your hips and inner thighs. Spend 3-6 breaths here.

  • Low Lunge (Hip Flexors)- From standing fold forward to place hands on the floor. Step back with one foot and set your back knee on the ground. Push your hips forward to actively stretch your hip flexors. Bring your torso tall while breathing into the stretch. You can gradually deepen the stretch. Hold here for 30 seconds before switching to the other leg.

  • Thread the Needle (Gluteus Maximus attaching to IT)- Laying on your back with you feet on the ground and knees in the air, place your right ankle just above your left knee or on your thigh. Holding your left leg around the thigh, pull your left knee towards you. Make sure to keep your back flat on the ground. Hold for 1-2 minutes before switching to the other side.

  • Standing Forward Bend (Hamstrings)- With your feet slightly apart, bend forward with your arms reaching towards the ground. Here you can use a block or a step, if you cannot reach the ground. You can also keep a slight bend in your knees as to not lock them out. Hold for 5-6 breaths.

Listed are just a few of our favorites. There is a wide variety of stretches that target different components of the hip-leg system. Stretching your legs will benefit your feet as well as your back. Always remember to take new stretches slow, and know your limits. Also remember that everything works like a machine. While you can isolate one muscle to stretch or strengthen, in order to keep the system working efficiently, you have to give attention to all of the components.

CORE- Core is crucial. No, you do not have to take on the trail with a chiseled six-pack. However, core is responsible for balance, agility, and good posture. With a weighted pack on your back, your core will help you keep upright and strong. Our daily movement on and off the trail is far from just frontal movement, or a single plane of movement. Therefore, just working out on one plane is not quite beneficial. Instead, try out strengthening exercises that target multi-planar, or rotational, movement.  

  • Plank- Starting on hands and knees in Table pose, step your feet back. Image a string starting at your belly button pulling straight up into the sky. You should feel your abs working here not your arms. There are tons of variations to a basic plank; you can always make it easier or more challenging. Hold 30 second to 1 minute. Repeat as many times as you want.
  • Side Plank- Come to your side on the ground. You can either take this pose from your elbow or go all the way up on your hand. The key here is to lift your hip/buttocks off the ground and to keep it from sagging to the ground. Likewise to the plank, there are lots of variations here. One of our favorite modifications is to begin to lower your hips and then take them back up to a full plank. Another modification to deepen the exercise is to thread your free hand underneath your supporting arm, twisting through your obliques.

  • Superman- Laying on your stomach with your hands straight out in front of your long ways, raise your chest off of the floor powering from your lower back. Rise up and hold or carry through the entire movement. Lower back to the ground slowly. These movements should be controlled. Repeat for 20 reps or 30 seconds. 

CLEAR HEADSPACE- It is simple. Being comfortable in your own mind is crucial to being able to handle the inevitable moments of loneliness that come with a long hike. Meditation, even in the smallest doses, is good for you. The ability to calm your mind will also help out in situations of distress, discomfort, or with anxiety. If you have trouble with your mind wandering or thinking about what is next or dwelling on what has past, focus on your breath. Practice this before hitting the trail.

 For more tips and advice on thru-hiking, head to www.trailingthought.com .

HAPPY TRAINING AND HAPPY TRAILS!

 

Nashville is known as being an extremely diverse city and a hot spot for refugees and immigrants relocating to the United States. One of our most diverse neighborhood lies along the Charlotte Pike corridor and is home to a local nonprofit that Cumberland Transit is happy to work with. The Oasis Bike...

The Oasis Bike Workshop and Teen Mountain Bike Team

Nashville is known as being an extremely diverse city and a hot spot for refugees and immigrants relocating to the United States. One of our most diverse neighborhood lies along the Charlotte Pike corridor and is home to a local nonprofit that Cumberland Transit is happy to work with. The Oasis Bike Workshop was founded in 2009 as a year round program to help young people work to earn a bike as a form of alternative transportation. From their website: 

"Through this free, volunteer-powered program, youth participate in weekly workshops in which they custom build their own bicycle from the frame up, and are trained in bicycle safety and maintenance. Upon completion of the workshop, each participant rides away with their own bicycle, as well as a new helmet, lock, lights, toolkit and a bit of grease under their fingernails as proof of their new skill set." 

Beyond the workshop program they've started a teen mountain bike team which now competes locally and in nearby cities in NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) sanctioned races. The team is made up of kids from all over the world speaking different languages, but coming together to learn a new sport and cheer each other on. Cumberland Transit is happy to have contributed to this team by donating their team helmets and bike parts so they can continue to grow their strength and talent. Last week NPR ran a story on the Oasis Teen Mountain Bike Team and we wanted to make sure to share the story and what the team has been able to accomplish so far! For the full NPR story please click here. 

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)

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

Having fun is the point of the day.  Making memories is what its all about.  Today is not the day for a teaching moment.  Not the day for being critical about manners. Not the day to be a parent, at least in front of your kids.  Today is the day to  be a kid again.  Get on the sled.  Go faster than you are comfortable with going.  Make snow angels, then stay there and let your kids bury you in the snow.  These are quick cold moments in your day, but are unforgettable moments that your kids will hopefully remember for a lifetime.

How to Survive and Thrive During Snow Days

 

 

How to Survive and Thrive During Snow Days

 

Big Kids and Little Kids

 

By TJ Wilt 

 

Snow Days are one of the greatest memories as a child.  What about when you become a parent and you have children of your own?  They still are the best memories but responsibility gets in the way of you letting loose…completely.  Snow is not planned; snow is not forgiving and able to reschedule so being prepared prior to that phone call at 4am or the email the night before is tricky.  I am a little luckier than some, I have 3 boys so as one grows out of a winter jacket the next can grow into it.  This of course does not apply to the pre-teen that grows 5 inches in 6 months.  However, he can almost fit into my clothes and definitely his mothers. Below are some of my thoughts from experience that might come in handy. 

 

 

BREAKFAST

Always key to any big day of adventure are snow balls, snow men or snow women, sledding, crying,
freezing, a little bruising, a lot of laughter, some resting and a whole lot of fun is a good hearty breakfast.  EAT.  A lot of people skip this meal but it is critical to compete with your  kids energy.  Skipping breakfast should never be an option.  If there is ever a day for the full eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes,  waffles, fruit, biscuits and gravy, OJ, cereal and oatmeal this is the day.  Go all out!! We all know the possibility of getting to another meal before the sun sets is not likely.  

 

Ready…Set…. SNOW

Its cold, wet and it finds itself into your kids clothes especially when they are having fun.  So expect to see some tears mixed with the smiles.  

 

 

 

 

SLEDS

Go round up your sleds.  Use anything you can get your hands on.  We had some old plastic saucers in the basement and still resorted to trashcan lids, trash bags and sometimes even cardboard boxes.  So don’t spend a lot of time stressing because the more creative you are the more fun for the kids.

 

SNACKS

Almost as critical as breakfast.  Being outdoors and being active is a choice and choosing means preparing.  Snack bars are the easiest most efficient way to be prepared.   Gels are an option, but honestly, there are not many kids that will take down a gel pack like runners and cyclists.  Just throw some meal or snack bars in a backpack and call it a day.  Water is critical too. Just as important as it would be for a trail run or ride on the bike.  Water bottles are light and easy to refill.  Just throw a couple in the pack.  

 

FUN

Having fun is the point of the day.  Making memories is what its all about.  Today is not the day for a teaching moment.  Not the day for being critical about manners. Not the day to be a parent, at least in front of your kids.  Today is the day to  be a kid again.  Get on the sled.  Go faster than you are comfortable with going.  Make snow angels, then stay there and let your kids bury you in the snow.  These are quick cold moments in your day, but are unforgettable moments that your kids will hopefully remember for a lifetime.  The two most important tactics for staying in good graces with your kids during these memorable moments: 

  1. Get involved 
  2. Let loose 

So basically if you can be a kid again, DO IT!!

 

 

SLEEP

Yes, they will sleep.  Maybe not before you fall asleep, but they will fall asleep right next to you in bed if you are lucky and that will be the finale of a day that was lived to the fullest. 

 Enjoy the snow and know next time you get that email, phone call or twitter feed letting you know that tomorrow includes an unscheduled day off… you will be prepared and ready to take on the FUN.  

 

My picks for the best snow day survival items:

  1. Patagonia Better Sweater - my go-to mid layer for any cold weather
  2. The North Face Summit Series - The L5 layer as your shell will keep the cold out completely
  3. Grab the Gold Snack Bar - Made in Tennessee, just like me
  4. Suunto Ambit2 -  A little overkill for a snow day but I have had a Suunto for almost 10 years now as my watch and would not choose any other
  5. Kammok Gear Roo Hammock - of course at some point you have to relax and why not strap onto a tree right by the sledding hill
  6. YETI 20oz Rambler - Who could forget your beverage, hot or cold, its hard to pass the Yeti Rambler
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

What do you do when you have an unexpected snow or ice day?  You find adventure wherever possible.  In the South, we are rightly cautious and excited when snow comes our way and we literally don’t know how to act when everything freezes.  Luckily, I learned from some of the...

Mill Creek Snow Canoeing

 

 

You wouldn’t believe how heavy a canoe is when it is covered with a sheet of ice!  Luckily, it was easy to push along the ground.  This location is around Petus road and is an excellent put in spot because there is parking and a little path that is wide enough for your canoe.  Just out of sight were some steps to easily walk down to the creek’s edge.  With a couple of pushes and delicately getting into the canoe, we were officially canoeing during winter storm Octavia.  

 

 

There is really something quite beautiful about paddling through icy water.  It looks really quiet, but the area was actually teeming with life.  Among the different creatures we encountered were  Kingfishers, Cardinals, and ducks.  Throughout our journey we kept catching up to a few ducks who were probably annoyed by our consistent following.  They got a little rest though because we were easily bogged down by shallow sections.  We thought everything was going well until….

 

Suddenly the creek was only about 4 inches deep requiring portaging.  Turns out that portaging on frozen ground is more fun than a chore.  The canoe easily slides across the ground.  It gave us a chance to stretch our legs a bit and imbibe a spirit or two.  

 

 

After working pretty hard and getting warm, we were able to have a little reprieve in the straights.  We finally had smooth sailing.  Eventually we had to keep moving so our hands wouldn’t freeze.

 

It wouldn’t have been an adventure without a little more solid snow and ice to work through during the last bend.  Several people were taking our picture no doubt thinking we were crazy wanting to canoe during a winter storm.  After loading the canoe back on the car, we head home for some well deserved hot chocolate.  

Happy Adventures!  Check us out on Facebook

 

Phil Fair

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

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