The breeze blew through the trees. The temperature was headed for a comfortable high of 88. Comfortable because Franklin was 85 degrees at 5:00 am and climbing to a high of 97, “feels like” 102.
Under a canopy of trees, next to the water and planning to be there for the next 13 miles. It really made my heart happy. It made my running legs happy.
. . . We headed out at 5:30 a.m., me, Jack & Diane. (Mellencamp on the radio) “Jack and Diane” in the car in front of me. We stopped at Starbucks for coffee and we drove 1 1/2 hours to Fiery Gizzard. Fiery Gizzard is a 13 mile trail that starts near Mont Eagle (Foster Falls) and ends in Tracy City (Sycamore Falls). For those of you familiar with the Ragnar TN course, the trail head, near Tracy City is like 300 yards from the exchange at Tracy City Elementary. I did not know it was so close, until Saturday. The last time I ran Fiery Gizzard was for the HardWin race in November. I was anxious to be back. I was anxious for adventure. Seriously, no better people to be part of an adventure with than ‘Jack and Diane’.
Do something that makes you feel altogether alive! Part safe. Part adventure. Part unknown.
We parked one car at the Tracy City trailhead and drove to the Foster Falls trailhead to start. The trail is approximately 13 miles one way. There are bathrooms at both ends of the trail. Jack (Kevin) was going to do 26 miles. Me and Diane (Teresa) were going to run 13. 🙂 We parked our other car at Foster Falls, put on our vests, filled up our water bottles, went to the bathroom one last time and we were off. Don’t read too much into my reference of Jack & Diane. It was the first song that played for this road trip and Kevin & Teresa are def American kids. 🙂
The trail is very runnable. The total elevation one way is approximately 1500′. It is well marked with white aluminum blazes, nailed to the trees. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, blazes, it is used to describe a trail marker, permanently attached to trees/rocks, along a trail to keep you on course. There are places on this trail that you have to stop and look around for the next blaze, before moving on. But, for the most part, I think this trail is easy to follow.
The first 8 miles from Foster Falls is easy to run. At the 8 mile mark, the trail brings you to a junction at Raven’s Point Campsite. Def, take the 1/2 mile side trail to the Raven’s Point Overlook. You are rewarded with a 180 degree view, gorgeous. Once back to the Raven’s Point Campsite you can run 4.3 miles to Grundy Forest trailhead or you can run 4.5 miles to the Grundy Forest trailhead. For the race, it follows the 4.3 mile distance. We decided to try the 4.5 mile side. I am grinning from ear to ear atm because I am looking at the free map that is at the trailhead and it says of the section we followed, “travels bottom of gorge, rocky and strenuous!!” Seriously! No joke!
Yep. . . rocky and strenuous. Pretty much a rock garden, long ascents, long descents for the entire 4.5 miles. I tried my best to have a good attitude. Just when you thought, “YAYE, DIRT!” There were more rocks. The rocks were just small enough to make moving very fast on them difficult. Imagine, the Stump Jump rock garden, the Savage Gulf rock garden and you get my drift. I secretly LOVED it. Yes, LOVED it. I think it would be a good training stimulus to start at Grundy Forest trailhead, run the non-rock garden portion of the trail to Foster falls and then, return to Grundy Forest trailhead via the rock garden.
Until we got close to Sycamore Falls, we only saw one hiker and one camper the entire time. Sycamore Falls has a popular swimming hole. There were many families at this end of the trail.
The surrounding beauty, the constant sound of water, the bridges over the water, the water falls, the quiet. . . can’t wait to go back.