The Fiery Gizzard Trail-1, Technology-0

The good, the bad and the ugly

This week I bought a new phone and buried a soggy Canon 60-D at the camera morgue.

Good news: I finally joined the iPhone world.

Bad news: I owe a lot of money.

Good news: you all can laugh at my misfortune (it’s okay, chuckle as you read. I have thick skin)

Bad news: I owe a lot of money…

Now let’s rewind a few days to find out how I got myself in this hilariously unfortunate predicament.

Fiery Gizzard Trail and South Cumberland State Park

My Friday edition of Adventures with Bekah consisted of a day-long hike at South Cumberland State Park. I was very excited to finally hit the trails.

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The Fiery Gizzard Trail is a 12.5 mile hike filled with diverse rock formations, bouldering opportunities, beautiful running water, swimming holes, and waterfalls. Most of it is a moderate difficulty but the Fiery Gizzard stretch is a bit precarious. At the parking lot you sign in so the rangers will know you’re in there. If you don’t sign back out, I imagine they start a search party.

Fiery Gizzard TrailIf you look at this map, I parked up in the top left. I had planned on only doing a short 4-5 mile loop through Grundy Forest, but I got so excited that I found myself halfway finished with the trail before I realized I missed the loop!

Check out the highlights of the trail (If you click on a photo it will start a larger slideshow).

Me vs. Little Gizzard Creek

Here’s where the hike takes a turn for the worst. A little over halfway through the trail I tripped over an out-of-ground tree root.

No, I did not just face plant forward like a normal person…I face planted then rolled down a hill into the creek. KCRG, did you get that? Golden Klutz Award goes to me.

What most of the trail looked like

Most of the trail was inclined slightly above the creek. The hill I fell down was a little bit bigger than the one pictured here.

The worst part? My camera bag strapped across my body was slightly unzipped.

Imagine this in slow motion: Foot catches root, body flies forward, out launches my phone, camera and sunglasses, body lands not so gracefully onto my phone, jamming it into my ribcage right as I witness my pretty Canon 60D splash into the water. I scramble to my feet and hurl myself in the direction of the camera. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand…by now the camera is fully submerged…three-one-thousand…I snatch the strap and rescue it from drowning.

…only three seconds too late.

Unfortunately neither piece of technology survived the ordeal. I did. That’s the important part, right? Though I may have to sell my soul anyway just to pay for the damn camera.

So what did I do with the dripping camera next? Only what any technology-experienced millenial would do – I put the lens and camera into a bag of rice.

Now we have a soggy, very expensive maraka. The noisy, rice-filled lens mocked my with it’s shakety-shake-shake the rest of the way home.

A happy little metaphor

After falling down a mountain – as you can imagine – I was a bit disoriented. I started hiking at lightning pace, my heart beating wildly and blood rushing to my face. Instead of looking up at the trail, I stared angrily at my dripping camera, trying to hold it at what I imagined was the best position to get the water to drain out and away from the gears and gadgets inside.

Right…like that’s going to help.

In my adrenaline-motivated wild race to the finish line I found myself lost on the trail. I couldn’t use my phone compass and my map was somewhere in the bottom of the creek.

Luckily earlier in the expedition I had met a few fellow hikers.

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Father John Dowling led me back to safety

The guy above’s name is John Dowling, and he is a priest in the Nashville area. We exchanged numbers (before my phone broke) so that when I came back to Tennessee he could tell me about the best trails in the Smokey’s and so I could send him these photos I took. They caught up with me as I sat by the water kicking myself.

Father Dowling led me back to the right path.

How metaphoric is that? A priest leads me back to the narrow road. Halleluiah, good God!

Later that night

After my fall, I headed back to Chattanooga, cleaned up at my hostel and decided I needed a drink at the bar. I met some really great guys again. Here’s how that conversation went…

“Hey, can I get your number?”

“No…sorry I dropped my phone down a mountain.”

“Seriously? Wow you could have just said no.”

“No, really…I dropped my phone down a mountain.”

All I can say is I am grateful for good people, beautiful nature…and payment plans.

 

Southern food, Southern friends and damn good beer

I came to Chattanooga to hike, but I couldn’t leave without exploring downtown. Chattanooga is a mid sized city with lots to do and things to see. Here’s a few of my favorite stops.

The Flying Squirrel

flying squirrel

The Flying Squirrel is a bar in South Chattanooga. It’s literally 30 feet from The Crash Pad and offers a huge selection of draft and bottled beer, tapas style food, and fun and interesting people. Plus, the bartenders are really good looking…

Like really good looking…

At The Flying Squirrel I met a myriad of different people. Last night I met two guys who went to school together in Cookville, Tennessee. Josh, Scott and I talked and drank all night and had a great time! They asked me to stay another night and meet them at The Flying Squirrel Saturday, but I decided it was best to hit the road instead.  Now I’m kind of real sad about it.

Thursday night I met a new group of friends at The Flying Squirrel by asking to pet their dog. After a few playful puppy kisses and some intereesting conversation, they took me out to dinner for the best fried chicken in Chattanooga. That leads me to Champy’s.

Champy’s Chicken

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Champy’s Chicken supposedly has the best fried chicken in all of Chattanooga (some say it gets beat, though, by a little hole in the wall place with velvet walls located inside a budget hotel building).  I ordered fried pickles to share with the group. They were delicious but I don’t think I want to get used to Southern fried food on a regular basis.

Champy’s Chicken definitely had a local feel. I’d say the only way that visitor’s find the restaurant and bar is by meeting friends in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga River Market

I don’t have any pictures unfortunately because my phone and camera are both broken! The River Market is a day long event every Saturday during warm months. There’s local made jewelry, clothes, art, and even dog food…

I got this free Barley Bones t-shirt by eating a dog bone on camera for their Youtube and Facebook networks. I’m famous you guys.

Also…I at a dog bone.

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Seriously….

A cheddar and barley dog bone.

…anything for a free shirt. #Collegeprobs

Also they entrepreneurs at this booth were very interesting. They gave me lots of advice for scenic hiking trails close to town and we talked for a long time about traveling and business. They are trying to raise enough money selling their pure-ingredient dog bones to transform the puppy treats into human treats perfect for hiking.

Walnut Street Bridge

walnut street bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge was the first bridge to connect Chattanooga’s downtown with the North Shore. It was built in 1890 and it’s one of the many historical structures of the town. Since it’s now too outdated to meet current standards for automobiles it’s been turned into a pedestrian bridge.

chattanooga bridge

 

 

Lesson learned

I’m really going to miss Chattanooga! There’s so much hiking to be done, people to meet, shops to explore, and downtown events to enjoy. I left one day early for many reasons.

…but now I really wish I hadn’t left early.

Be a yes traveler. You only get so many chances to travel, so enjoy it. When you’re in a new state, it’s a long drive to get back there, so experience everything while you can. Say yes to new adventures.