Two for…Saturday.

Sycamore Falls - click for larger

Sycamore Falls – click for larger


This weekend, I hit the trails, with a vengeance. A two-fer, in fact. Saturday morning, very early, made the trek north to Tracy City, and the South Cumberland State Park for a long, challenging hike on Fiery Gizzard. This was at the north end of the Foster Falls section I explored last weekend, but all part of the same area. Super, super challenging hike – one of the toughest I’ve been on, but the scenery was worth it. Centuries-old hemlock trees, 2 amazing overlooks, and at least a half-dozen waterfalls along the upper and lower loops of the trail. So much scenery, it’s hard to adequately justify it all in words – let’s just say it was full-blown Mother Nature, and was well worth the complete exhaustion I felt after the hour drive, and the 15.5-mile, 500-foot elevation shift trek.

In addition to several impressive waterfalls, there are two amazing overlooks: Werner Point and Raven’s Point. I intended to find Raven’s Point, but Werner Point was an unexpected surprise; it wasn’t listed on my trail map.

The view from Werner Point - click for larger

The view from Werner Point – click for much larger panorama

Werner Point in particular was just breathtaking. The view from the top of the rim looked down on Fiery Gizzard Creek, and what would be the return leg of the hike, following a really rugged 500-foot descent into the gorge. As I said, worth it.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

The hike started out on the relatively easy Grundy Forest Day loop at the trailhead in Tracy City, and after a little exploring and photographing waterfalls along the creek, the path ascended to the Dog Loop Trail, which followed the canyon rim, and led to multiple waterfalls and the two aforementioned overlooks. After Raven’s Point (where I saw no ravens), a near straight-down descent into the canyon itself. My map indicated that this was a strenuous segment, and the map wasn’t joking. Miles and miles of jumping rock-to-rock, which was compounded in difficulty by my fully-loaded pack. Eventually, the trail reconnect with where I had been early in the morning, and after following it back towards the trailhead, I decided to do the other half of the Day Loop to get back to the Jeep. As is usually the case in these deep canyons, I had some connectivity issues with Endomondo and the Suunto watch, but my phone’s battery life was great, since I had the battery replaced in preparation for this adventure. I met a lot of people on the trail, as well – I probably passed at least 50 or 60 other hikers, most in varying degrees of exhaustion, and all but a handful woefully unprepared for such a tough hike.

Even after 15.5 miles on Fiery Gizzard, I was not done. The plan all along was to return to Denny Cove, where I stopped last weekend, but didn’t explore. Not this time – I explored the entire trail.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

Denny Cove isn’t a long trail – only about 2 miles. The 3/4 mile to the bluff is relatively easy, and watching the climbers on the wall was awesome. However, the remaining trek to Hemlock Falls was mostly pretty rugged, especially the last half-mile or so, and especially after having already done 15.5 miles on Fiery Gizzard. Nonetheless, as the sun was starting to get low on the horizon, I made this as well. Hemlock Falls was worth the trek, but I’ll probably go back one day when I have more time to actually go off-trail and explore the falls in more detail.

Hemlock Falls at Denny Cove - click for larger

Hemlock Falls at Denny Cove – click for larger

So, 15.5 miles on Fiery Gizzard, and 4 miles at Denny Cove, for a total of 19.5 miles in about 10 hours – plus driving time, and the side stop at Foster Falls, which was probably good for an additional (unlogged) half-mile. And this was just Saturday.

The Walnut Street Bridge - click for larger

The Walnut Street Bridge – click for larger

Sunday, my first actual ride on the motorbike since getting it out of the shop. The weather was somewhat threatening, so not a particularly long or adventurous ride, but still, a nice little spin to the North Shore (and a stop at the Stone Cup for a coffee), and some puttering around downtown. Not as much as I wanted to ride, but the combination of weather and still being pretty shredded from the hike won out. Maybe Mother Nature will behave, and I can do a ride with some distance next weekend. We’ll see – but c’mon, Mother Nature, after all the times you’ve tried to kill me lately, I think you kinda owe me one.

Link:
Fiery Gizzard/Denny Cove Photo Album on Facebook