Our recent trip to Tennessee was a much needed one, but seriously, since I’ve come back, it’s been crazy.  Back to school stuff  in full swing, two of the dogs that had to be kenneled returned with diarrhea (joy), the house needed (and still needs) attention.  The lawn maintenance guys didn’t come while we were gone because I didn’t want to leave the back gate unlocked, so it was literally a jungle out back.  I resumed my gym schedule, much to the dismay of my muscles.

I was worried about breaking my new routine while on vacation, but I needn’t have been.  The Fiery Gizzard was quite the workout.  The first day out my Fitbit showed that I climbed the equivalent of 20 flights of stairs.  I’d read that it was a difficult, often treacherous trail, and I would agree with that.  Lots of ups and downs, loose rocks and tree roots, not to mention a pretty good drop off the edge if you were to lose your footing.  With packs, it was challenging.  I would not recommend doing this wearing anything but a good pair of hiking boots with ankle support.  It would be very easy to twist an ankle on this trail.

We did the Day Loop on the first day and took the more difficult of the two starting off routes, as we wanted to spend some time letting the kids play in the swimming holes.  Almost immediately we were traversing rocks and could hear running water.  It was minutes before we could see that water as well as Cave Spring Rockhouse, a very impressive cave complete with a 500 year old Hemlock tree.

Chewy at Cave Springs Rockhouse, Fiery Gizzard Trail, Tennessee.

Blue Hole Falls, Fiery Gizzard Trail, Tennessee.

The vision I’d coveted in my mind of simply running into the water was not to be, however, as there are many, many rocks.  Some of them are unstable and if you’re not careful,  you could definitely lose your balance.  We had to climb down from the trail to access Blue Hole, which was a decent feat considering we had packs, kids and a dog.  Walking into the water wasn’t as easy as all that, either, since the rocks under the water are slippery with algae.  Thankfully we’d thought to bring water shoes, but I felt that this took away from my experience, and I stubbornly didn’t wear them right away.  After some slipping and sliding I reluctantly put them on.

The water was cold.  It felt wonderful.  If I’d had hours to just sit in it, I would have.  Chewy was reluctant to go in.  I managed to splash him with some water, but he wasn’t particularly thrilled.  I think the temperature shocked him.  Even “cold” water back home was never this cold!

 We stopped for lunch and I got to use my Jet Boil Flash Personal Cooking System, which I’d gotten as a gift some months before.  It was very easy to use and water was boiling in two minutes.  The Jet Boil Flash is a self-contained cooking system, with it’s own cook cup, fuel and tripod.  Everything comes packed inside the large cup, which is snuggled tightly into a cozy to keep from burning your hands.  I bought a slightly larger fuel canister so mine did not fit neatly into the Jet Boil, but they do make a size that fits right in there, leaving more room in your pack for other things.  It heats two cups of water at a time.  You can use it for coffee, tea, or to pour directly into dehydrated camp meals, as we did (see video below).  It also has a super cool temperature indicator on the side of the cozy, which turns bright yellow when the contents are hot.


Note the change in color on the temperature indicator.

Lunch for four in these two packages.


  In minutes we had a hot meal.  

Follow the link below for more info, specs and reviews on this product.  My mission is now to master making coffee with it since they now have a coffee press accessory!  With a single push-button ignitor, using it couldn’t have been easier.  I really expected it would be more difficult to use, but it wasn’t.  The kids and husband were very impressed and very grateful for a hot meal after swimming in the cold mountain water.


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