• Kendy Izaguirre Stapleton

Nature's healing capacity!

We often overlook the amazing contributions that nature gifts to us. We often get consumed with everyday life that we ignore our body's need to be out in nature and to receive the amazing contributions that it has to offer. Luckily, I live in an area of the world that is surrounded by beautiful mountains that are easily accessible to me. This week my body made a demand to take a trip that I knew was going to be out in nature and was going to create more for myself.

The destination that I visited this week is called Fiery Gizzard Trail. This trail is near Tracy City, Tennessee and is a 13-mile strenuous hike. This trail provided me with just what my body was requiring. This beautiful trail is one of my favorites because of the vegetation that is untouched. This forest is filled with beautiful wild flowers such as Hepatica, Violets, and Trillium.

The trunks of the trees are huge. There are hemlock trees here that date back over 200 years old. These trees have been waiting to contribute to visitors with warming, friendly, and caring greetings. What was more stunning was that the creek often followed the trail.

Small Wilds Campground was about 10 miles away from where Robin and I parked. We started at 8:00 am and we had not even walked half of a mile when the magic begun. We started to take pictures right away. We both were taken by the beauty of this place. The sun was barely out and there was a shimmery reflection on the water from the sun. The stream of the river was nice and strong. As we kept walking, we kept coming across many beautiful waterfalls. Not sure how many of these waterfalls we passed, but there were so many that I could not keep track. Each waterfall spoke their own language and sang beautiful melodies to us. This hike was intense in some areas of the trail and it required us to climb hills full of huge sharp rocks. I've been on many trails before, but this particular trail was indeed the most intense I've ever been on. We took a break five hours later to make coffee, I know right? I can’t do without my coffee. I took advantage and played around while Robin was filtering water for our coffee and water for later to take with us as we continued our hike. I love playing in rivers, creeks, and waterfalls. I played the some crawfish I found in a pond. I saw the biggest crawfish ever, at first I thought it was a lobster, but then I remembered that there are not lobsters in fresh water. But who knows...

After an hour rest, we continued to hike to try to make it to camp while it was still light outside. We had quite a bit to go and while I was beginning to get tired, the beauty of this place kept me energized and alive. Some of these areas were so strenuous that it was straight upward hills and filled with huge sharp rocks. Viewing the steep climb ahead, a thought came to my mind that only a monkey or a mountain goat could climb these hills. To my surprise, I did it with no difficulty and I truly enjoyed the challenge.

After seven miles, I kept asking how much further was the campsite? Oh boy, these hills were getting to me. Luckily, Robin and I are great trails partners, we both go the same pace, and motivate each other to keep going. She was determined to complete this challenge herself. At this point, it was beginning to get darker and we could not afford to waste anymore time. It was my first time backcountry camping with someone who had not camped before. I had gone camping once, but I did not have to do a single thing, it was all done for me. Fortunately, Robin has done extensive research, as this is sort of “her thing”. I love playing with fire so I offered to gather the wood and light the fire so we can have the whole camping experience. I made some tuna sandwiches and added spices from our garden that we collected last year.

The food was delicious, especially after walking for so long, you feel that you can eat anything guilt-free. After we finished eating, Robin already had the tent set up. We were so tired that we pretty much were ready to sleep. Surprisingly though, we did not fall asleep right away. I had a bit of fear of being out there by ourselves. No one else reserved any of other campsites so it was kind of nice to have the whole area just for us. The wind during the night was very loud and scary. It seemed like it was coming from multiple directions. I never had experienced such loud winds before. Robin swears she heard a bird called a Whippoorwill. She recognized from this book that she is reading about this guy who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. However, I did hear tons of frogs and other sounds that I did not recognize. Eventually, I got out of the fear of hearing the sound of the wind and realized it was like beautiful melodies to me. I have no words to describe this experience, however, days after this hike-I still miss it.

After we packed up camp and filtered more water, it was a short three-mile hike to Foster Falls where Robin’s parents were waiting to pick us up. Robin’s mother even brought Trail Magic. Some peanut M&Ms!! Man, I could have eaten all of them. They are true Trail Angels! They dropped us off at our car and we drove back home super hungry so we both decided a china buffet was in store for us next. The food was delicious. Till then, the end!!!

#nature #hiking #camping #fierygizzard #fierygizzardtrail #tracycity #tennessee #backpacking #backcountry #waterfall #smallwilds