I recall a family camping trip in my youth when the mother of all thunderstorms hammered our camping area for three straight days, raising up the river significantly and washing some of our possessions away before dad and I went out into the downpour to pull our remaining gear/canoes sixty feet up the shore. Because the river was too high for us to get out, we had to take some treacherous back way out along a slippery-as-piss cliff-side road revealed to us by an old Indian who lived in the forest in order to get back home. Yes, that really happened. When asked how the camping trip went my parents responded, “It was memorable.”
The trip to Red River Gorge this weekend was fun…and memorable.
We set off from Cincinnati and quickly hit the town of Florence, a gateway to the bastion of 21st century, progressiveness that is Kentucky.
Click the image to make it bigger, but their water tower reads “Florence Y’all”. Classy.
We also passed, I shit you not, Big Bone Lick park. Yes, that’s really what they named it.
Hot hiking action.
Upon arriving at Red River Gorge, we started by hiking into a rock formation called Half Moon. It only took some mild climbing, but it was gorgeous.
This is after my first attempt at rock climbing. Victory was mine.
Me and Cambridge on the Whale Tale at Half Moon. There really is nothing but a perilous and deadly fall on three sides of us.
Cambridge looking badass and ready to take on Mother Nature in a cage match.
The outcropping across the way is Chimney Top Rock. It is fenced in because it’s a big tourist trap. We hiked into Half Moon, which is not fenced in. We rule.
I felt plenty of awe and was deeply touched by all the beauty. However, at no point did I feel compelled to thank god for any of it. I felt amazement at how gradual changes over time can produce a cliff face. I smiled at the immensity of the forest and the vibrant colors. There was simply no need to augment what was already around me with some delicious fantasy, as if I could anyway (otherwise I would have just stayed at home). The world was, and is, more than good enough.
Afterward we decided to hike/climb up to the top of a mountain. No biggie. Our target on this run was a place called Cloudsplitter Point. Despite having never done rock climbing before, I found that I’m alright at it. Go me!
Click the image to make it bigger. That little white dot in the middle of the chasm? That’s Cambridge.
Cambridge and I climbed through the fissure at Cloudsplitter to the other side. I took some video that you can watch at the very bottom of the blog post.
Then the fun began. We took a wrong turn coming out of Cloudsplitter. Four miles and two hours later we hauled out our maps and GPS’s to find out we had gone totally the wrong way and had another four miles (and two hours) in front of us. Balls. I took both the backpacks because just hiking and fighting bears was getting boring. We eventually ran out of water and so we tore into Cambridge’s nectarines like a pride of lions to go after the juice that was inside. The path got progressively more overgrown, suggesting that it had not been ‘enjoyed’ for sometime. We did find an arch which we named “Fuck Off Arch”, mostly because we were done with the forest by that time.
After about four hours of hiking we emerged on the other side of the park hungry, thirsty, and carrying about a five billion calorie deficit each. The logical thing to do was to go gorge ourselves on pizza. And so we did, and there was much rejoicing.
As the sun was setting, we were finally ready to hike into the camp site that Cambridge’s brother and cousin had found while we were charting the unexplored portions of Kentucky earlier in the day.
We found a cute toad, sat around our blazing yule, played guitars, and enjoyed a lengthy and friendly reparte beneath a star-saturated sky, entirely free of clouds.
The clouds came overnight. So did the thunder, the lightning, and the torrential rain. While I did not thank god for the beauty, I certainly blamed his jerk ass for the rain. After all, if Christians get to praise god for all the good and imagine he’s simply not there when bad shit happens, I’d say that gives me license to do just the opposite. Fuck that guy and his storm.
Thankfully Cambridge was lightning quick with the rain fly (the extra bit that can go over the tent to keep rain out) and quickly thwarted god with a tiny piece of nylon. All-powerful my ass. We waited out the storm (I went for a quick jog in the rain) and then packed up camp and scooted off home. On the way we passed the End Time Tabernacle Church.
I cannot wait to do this again.