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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...

 

Wind whips across my cheek making my delicate position seem more precarious. It feels like a maelstrom compared to the enjoyable breeze I experienced on the hike to the base of this sea of granite. I glance over to spot a weakness in the rock. My hip cramps as I...

Lessons Learned While off the Ground

Wind whips across my cheek making my delicate position seem more precarious. It feels like a maelstrom compared to the enjoyable breeze I experienced on the hike to the base of this sea of granite. I glance over to spot a weakness in the rock. My hip cramps as I hike my left leg up and stab desperately towards a small edge.

            A few hours prior, this edge was of no importance to me. I was not even aware of the existence of this small grey seam. Now, in the present moment, nothing else matters. A few miles of hiking and scanning over the topo maps of the wall did not promote any conversation about this fold. Even studying the pitch by pitch breakdown did not leave me thinking twice about it. The duality of present moment focus neighboring a huge amount of awareness creates a fire and ice reaction that I find incredibly addicting. Weeks of planning, watching the weather, reading trip reports, and the expectations created during the approach all clear like a heavy fog as soon as your feet leave the ground. Nothing else in my experience brings life's duality so close to the surface. However, this partnership provides a glimpse to the dualism I find in the rest of the world. Loneliness and companionship. Rich and poor. Depression and elation. Good and evil.

            The left foot opens up a realm of possibilities. It provides access to a myriad of handholds. A calming assurance flows through me as I drive off the foothold up to a large shelf in the rock. In a moment, the the importance of the foot will have disappeared from my consciousness. This progression and flow of time reflect the movement that happens in our life. Movement is inescapable. We may drag our nails and stamp our feet, but movement happens nonetheless. The sages among us have learned not to fight it, but to harness it like a skilled sailor does with the wind.

            The next handhold looks promising. I twist my hips and hug close to the wall to maximize my reach. My fingers find greasy polished rock. My stomach turns and I am airborne. The indifference of the rock actual comes as a comfort to me, once again a parallel to the rest of life. The mountain does not decide when to unleash an avalanche. A storm cell does not wait until you reach the crux pitch to erupt in a thunderstorm. The hold did not shrink in size and become greasy during my moment of need. The only force that I can pilot is my own

            I pull my weary body to a small ledge. I spend a brief moment locating several cracks and then dig through my gear to find the appropriate piece of protection. The rope feels heavy as I pull up slack to the belay. Normally, belays feels like a safe haven. The difficulty of the pitch below has been conquered. The ledge and equalized anchor mean protection until the next push into the unknown. My mind and body take a brief rest as I belay my partner up. However, despite the rest and safety there is always one belay where I feel so lost. I want nothing more than solid ground. I want my harness to be hanging in my gear closet instead of chafing my waist. I want a cheeseburger.

As more and more slack piles across my lap, the impending certainty of the next pitch grows. In that moment, I want escape. There is so much work ahead, so much work that has already been done. I want to quit. My partner reaches the ledge, jarring about the quality of movement in the last pitch and his elation to have arrived at the station. I gaze at the next pitch, check my knot, sigh heavily, and begin moving upwards yet again. This feeling is one that comes all too often in life. The things we love and that make us come alive can easily be viewed as a chore minutes later. The wear and tear of life can corrode our greatest treasures, but, only if we let it

            Everything just flows. My head and emotions have re-centered themselves. Instinct takes over and moving up this sheer rock face has become as easy as floating downstream a gentle river. The original difficulty I felt in leaving the belay ledge has become completely unfounded. Such is the case in the rest of my life. Shedding off the wear and tear and hindrances is one of the things at the core of the human element. Often this does not resemble an act of hero, rather, it looks more like someone rolling out of bed. However, before you can blink we are off the floor and wide awake. Taking this "first step" becomes easier after repeatedly going through this process.

            The sun is barely starting to touch the pines on the ridge to the west of the summit. I stare out. Both the awareness and focus can rest. Movement keeps going despite my accomplishment, and despite my feeling of rest. The mountain does not feel conquered, nor does it applaud my labors. Everything is done, and it was done for it's own sake. This is perhaps my favorite thing about climbing and perhaps something that draws me towards writing. There is no prize, fame, or any other form of rewards. There are lessons learned and memories made. These are the reasons I climb. These are the reasons that I write. These are the reasons that I love. These are the things worth living for.

 

---Keith Erps is one of our ambassadors on loan to the Pacific Northwest for an undetermined amount of time.  While there he likes to ride bikes, climb mountains, and drink really good coffee.

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
  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