A week of firsts

17 02 2009

I believe I am a creature of habit, however this week I branched out & did a few new things, while none being extraordinary or “extreme,” they did have to be extremely different.

My events of difference began on Thursday night at the Versace show that was hosted at the Mason Murer gallery.  The people from New York hosting the event were slightly different than I am used to dealing with for events, but that should have been expected.  The social graces of the Souh eluded them. Though, through brief conversation I learned however that they felt acclimated because they had participated in the ingestion of Gritz.   Seriously this was how it was stated to me.  Among the preparation for the show there was a lot of shouting, no malice with it though, I just believe that is how many people in this world communicate.  My favorite quote of the evening was from a woman who worked in the gallery, when I made a commnet about the differences,reminded, me “we are dealing with another region.”  Well said.  I have never been one to claim that I was proud of my Southern heritage because of the negative connotation,but I beleive those days are over.

The show allowed me to ponder a few things, not on an existential level, but a few notches below.  I was looking at the difference between myself and all the others in attendance and was noticing some major differences.  However after making a conscious effort at the beginning of the year to find similarities I have with people rather than differences  I made an attempt at switching gears.  What I did discover was passion;  there is no doubt everyone in the room had a passion and a true sense of excitement about fashion & pop culture in general.  These people care just as much( if not more) about clothes, shoes and handbags as I do about trail running and being outside in the woods.    Once I had this revelation and accepted it the night became much more interesting for me.  I feel like I may have grown a little… just a little.

My next first, was on Saturday, and I shifted gears entirely from a Versace to a couples yoga class in Bryson City led by an old room mate and good friend, Melanie Leithauser.  I do not think under any other circumstances I would have attended a yoga class, but it being Valentine’s day I figured now was the time.  I am glad I did it,  I have a whole new respect for Yoga. I do not like to admit, but I think I am sore from exalting the sun and lifting Baddha Konasana… WTF?  Not the WTF for being sore, but who came up with these names?  The whole thing might be easier to digest and if I did not feel like I shoud have attened a drum circle at some point.  By the way pass me the bong, not in a Snoop Dog  or Michael Phelps way, but in I follow Panic & know all their set lists kind of way.  Twirl Hippie twirl.

In all fairness I truly enjoyed the class and it was really fun to be able participate with Rinne.

For dinner we were invited to join Chris & Anne at their house on top of the mountain. I wish I could convey properly in words what it was like to be there amongst freinds.  It was if several years had not passed and was liking walking into Cheers.  I knew everyone in the room and most of their dogs, very unlike any dinner parties in  the ATL, well at least ones that are not at our house.

My next first, was learning to play Texas Hold em and Bob Hatcock held my hand through most  of it.  Not in a gay way, but rather in an a wiser teacher learning a young student type of… wait this is starting to sound kind of Greek isnt’ it.  No matter, I was taught some of the finer points of the game, and they started to take my money.  However this being Greek & all fate stepped in and saved my ass, ( and for those keeping with the greek theme, not literally you sickos).  Apparently I should have played the lotto on Saturday night, because my luck was in overdrive…


New baseline for technical- The Cumberland Trail

10 02 2009

I have been wanting to hike into North Chick since I first ran it in a kayak about 14 years ago and scared myself nearly to death.  I had been back several times since for paddling and a little light hiking ,swimming around the bowling alley section but this  would be the first real attempt of the gorge as a trail-run.

Here is a view of the area and the gulch.

Click here to learn a little more about the  Cumberland trail in the North Chick Gorge

Elevation Profile for Cumberland Trail

The run started at the take out for the river in the the old Bowater pocket wilderness parking lot. There is a nice climb in the beginning but I was so stoked about being out there and the amazing views  that I did not even notice it, and the first real climb came in around mile 1, and you will without a doubt notice it.  Not only is it nice and steep; it is so close to the Bowater parking lot that there are other people out there attempting to hike it with cigarettes and small children in hand, at the same time mind you.  Also I figured it would be relatively easy to pass them given the circumstances, however as family units they proved capable of moving up the mountain at a decent clip.  But I was not deterred and eventually was able to overtake them and keep cruising up the trail.

Now the trail itself, while being nice and steep,  is part of Walden’s ridge and the cumberland plateu, so after the initial climb there are no more major climbs unlike the Blue Ridge mountains to the east that I am more used to running. This I thought was going to be a nice reprieve, however I forgot to factor in the stresses of tiny hills.

img_0173In addition to the small hills this is one of the most technical trails I have been on to date. I should have just run the creek bed for as many rocks as I encountered.  The Cumberland trail follows an old road for the first mile or so that has been washed away leaving many of the rocks exposed, but then the real technical parts are under the cliff line.

It was almost like a video game, not a new video game but something like Pitfall ala Intellivision.  Some large plate rocks you would step on and they would be as solid as bedrock, while others would teeter and shift.  You could not tell which ones would move by looking at them, so it was random guessing and hopping, hoping for the best.  I wound up on the ground several times laughing; but with none of the cool sound effects from Pitfall.

img_0186In addition to the technical challenges,the trail is poorly marked.  Sure you can spray paint and write your name on the walls at your leisure, but apparently marking for purposes other than declaring your love for Lurleen are not encouraged.  Just so Rinne, does not feel unloved, I promise upon my next visit, to bring a can of spraypaint so Southeast Tennessee knows how much I truly care for you.  I apologize for not being able to do so this time around. It will not happen again, because I am purchasing a pocket size can of spray paint for such occasions.

LaddersAnyway, I missed the trail turns a few times and had to do some backtracking along the cliff-lines, and came to something I though was only reserved for trails in Canada.  Being the litigous society that we are I did not think a stater recreation area would allow these things, but I am grateful that they do.

When you climb this set of stairs and ladders, you reach one of the coolest views on the trail, but be careful there are no rails to keep you from getting becoming part of the view.  You can play around with the view by clicking here. (If you think google earth is cool you will enjoy this, you can pan around with the view and switch to aerial.)

I took in the view and got a little to close to the edge on a wobbly rock… boooo!  After that I decided to take in the views while holding onto trees.   After this overlook you are along an old road for about a mile, passing an old mine, and then you drop back down into the gorge (if you are following the trail) and follow the middle cliff line with the super technical rocks.  I however, chose a different path, that led me to some amazing waterfalls, one which you cross with the aid of a cable, which is absolutely necessary unless you are Spiderman.

I kept cranking along and I kept losing the trail.  I thought it would follow the cliff lines at certain points, but it would meander off into the woods, and other times there were obvious trails into the woods, but as it turns out the Cumberland  trail would follow the cliff line and not the obvious path.  Lesson learned.

I definetly want to go back and explore this trail again soon. The views are amazing, and it is going to be great for swimming when it warms up in the summer.  In addition there are a plethora of waterfalls, and even areas for water bouldering, if you are willing to turn your run into a multi-sport adventure day.



8 02 2009

OK maybe that is a little extreme but I did go to Catholic school.  Since I last posted, I have been to Sun Valley and spent incredibly too much time on the kiddy slope, went snowshoeing, attempted to cross country ski, discovered the wonders of facebook (hence no real entries), ran the coosa backcountry trail, allowing me to finish the last couple of miles of the Duncan ridge trail, and paced Jon Obst during the last 8 hours of his 26 hour birthday run.  Now, tha I have hit the highlights of January I can attempt to get back to regular entries.