Not too long ago I decided it was time to stop avoiding the Red River Gorge. For sure I had been. Once upon a time I basically lived there. I spent as much of my free time roaming and exploring as I could manage. Of course I was single and under-employed at the time.
Then I became an over-obsessed rock climber and continued exploring but for different reasons. Somewhere along the way I rode my bike around a few forgotten fire and logging roads. After 20+ years I have a depth of knowledge of the place that is rivaled by few. I’m not bragging when I say that. It’s just a fact. I put in the time, walked the lonesome miles, and now I can look back on a long “career” with some satisfaction.
As I may have previously mentioned, after we moved back from Colorado I kept myself clear of the place for the most part. The occasional road bike ride around the Gorge Loop to knock Sky Bridge Hill into its proper place…but really I didn’t set foot in the place. I skimmed over the surface of it without making physical contact. Always the Sporty-Sport bike between me and the place I have always considered my spiritual home on earth…
My kids were very young when we moved to Colorado. Having kids, for me, was an opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge of this corner of the wide world with a captive audience. But when we moved two time zones thence I believed the time for teaching my children the secrets of the Red River Gorge was gone.
Hanging out with the CTL has aroused my twitchy feet. Some people have restless leg; I can’t sit still to save my life. Off we go into the wild green yonder! And I dragged the kids with me.
Mark and I visited Chimney Top Rock one iron grey day. Chimney Top is in the heart of the Gorge. It commands a view unrivaled anywhere else in the area. Unfortunately it sits at the end of a roughly paved trail and has a wood and stone guardrail around its promontory. But still, it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve spent many a full moon night marveling at the landscape of the RRG bathed in silver moonlight.
|Chimney Top Overlook|
Not too long after that I took the kids and Mark to see an interesting cliff dwelling. It’s not prehistoric or even ancient. Some modern man inhabited a curious natural shelter near the top of a cliff in an obscure valley along the Red. That got me all fired up thinking about the old glory days when I pounded sandy dirt all over the freakin’ Red River Valley.
|They were sworn to secrecy|
Within days I had made a quick hike up to the summit of High Rock, one of the high points in the county, and explored it’s overgrown top. Not only was I back on a kick to hike to some old standards, but I was banging away on my shutter release as fast as I could. Oh, if only I’d had a good digital camera in bygone days! The amount of film I burned through is ridiculous, but the sheer magnitude of pixels I’ve been generating is something to strike awe into the heart of even the most prolific wanna-be National Geographic photographer.
|View north from High Rock|
The Nephew and Niecely people were asleep in our living room when we awoke on New Year’s Eve. My sister-in-law had given instructions to make the Niece suffer because she had come in late and stayed up the remainder of the night. So Mandy decided we should take her hiking.
I schemed up a nice loop for the kiddos and off we went. The intended route was out to Turtleback Arch from Rock Bridge Road, then drop down to the Swift Camp Creek Trail which we would follow to Rock Bridge. Then we’d take the Rock Bridge Loop past Creation Falls and return to our gasoline powered conveyance via the gravel road.
|An unnamed waterfall in the Swift Camp Creek Gorge|
Eight miles. And the diminutive people loved it! Even the sleepless Niece had fun and didn’t complain. Even Bean with her stubbo legs. It was a hike of especial magnificence. We all had fun.
It’s dangerous for me to share old tales with the CTL. Mark ends up wanting to visit the places I describe. That, in turn, makes me want to revisit them. Then I get to thinking about all the places I went and didn’t capture on film. I think of all of those unborn pixels waiting to be converted into images of my choosing. I think of all the hiking adventures, the potential rock climbing adventures, and the dangerous cycling schemes we could cook up. Hallelujah! I’m on my way!
Mark and I have talked about some legal bikepacking schemes. We’ve also talked about biking up to rock climbing areas for day trips. The Gorge is a new place to me with the filters that I developed while I was away. With my renewed interest in photography I have also revitalized my interest in the ole stomping grounds. It’s a win-win for everyone.
|Rock Bridge over Swift Camp Creek|