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Red River Gorge Kentucky - Day 1 of 2

Updated on October 31, 2018
Ron Grimes profile image

The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is a 5-hour drive from my Middle Tennessee home. The Gorge is beautiful, and it is well worth the drive.

October Camping and Hiking

I visited the Red River Gorge one month ago. On that visit, as I was climbing a rocky ridge, I fell backwards and hit hard on the rocks. My backpack weighed about 40 pounds. When I fell I hit so hard that the internal metal frame of my backpack was knocked loose. I was a bit dazed and could not get up. My hiking friend, Scott Rosenberger, said, "Take your pack off." I tried to undo the straps and couldn't reach them. I was on my back with my head downhill. Scott unbuckled the straps for me and helped me get my arms out of the straps; however, I was still not able to get up. Scott took my hand and pulled me up. It was a very warm day, and we had been hiking for several miles. After Scott pulled me up, I was still shaken. Scott had me sit down and drink a bottle of water. After a few minutes, I felt better, but I knew I couldn't pick up my backpack and carry it up that ridge. I said, "Just leave my pack, and I'll come back and get it." We were less than a half mile from our campsite. Scott picked up my backpack and carried it to the top of the ridge we were climbing. He commented on how heavy it was, and I could see that it was not easy for him to carry. I was so thankful for Scott's help that day.

When I fell, I hit my right arm on a rock. I had a large knot on the muscle on the outer side of my forearm. I didn't know it at the time, but I must have cracked or torn something in my right chest or shoulder. Now, over one month later, I still have pain and have to splint my right chest with my right arm whenever I cough or sneeze, or even laugh very hard.

Early Morning Fog

A Lighter Backpack and No Falls

For this hike, I managed to keep my backpack much lighter. I would guess that it was around 30 pounds fully loaded. Still, after a few miles of hiking, my right clavicle was very sore.

The good news is that on this hike I did not fall. Not even once. I have been hiking for over six years, and this is the first hike where I have not fallen. I usually fall at least once or twice on a hike. I'm 64 now, and I thought that maybe it was just my age causing me to fall so much. Now I know that if I'm very careful, I can complete a hike without falling. On this hike, we covered some steep and slippery parts of the trail. In fact, one of the trails we hiked is named, "Rough Trail." Rough Trail certainly lives up to its name.

With my backpack damaged, I thought that I was going to have to buy a new one. The metal frame was no longer secure inside the backpack, and I could pull it up so only the bottom edge of the frame was in the backpack. I had purchased the backpack from REI five years ago. I took the backpack to REI and asked them if they could fix it, or if I just needed to buy a new one. To my surprise, they fixed it and didn't charge me anything. That is great customer service. I really like the way REI stands behind their products, and their employees are so helpful and knowledgeable. My only problem with REI is that I often find it difficult to get out of the store without buying more than what I went in to buy. For me it's like going into LOWE's or Home Depot. They have everything I need, and I want it all.

Sunrise Disperses the Fog

On our last hike, I used my new hammock to relax in during the day. At night I slept in my tent. On this hike I didn't even bring my tent. This was the first time I ever slept in a hammock. I do not have an under quilt for warmth, so I used an insulated air sleeping pad. That along with my 0 degree sleeping bag kept me warm as long as I kept the air pad under me. My problem was that the pad kept sliding and my feet would end up off it. My feet would get cold, and I often had to adjust the pad position during the night. I think I can figure out a way around that for the next trip. Maybe a cloth between the air pad and my sleeping bag will help.

When we arrived at our favorite campsite on a bluff overlooking the valley, we met Gary, a hiker from Lexington. Gary told us that he had been coming to that campsite for 51 years. He was a teenager when he first started visiting the gorge. Wow, you know it has to be special for someone to keep returning for 51 years! I noticed that Gary was taking pictures of gorge, and I thought, "How great is that? He has been coming here for over 50 years, and he sill enjoys it so much that he continues to take pictures of it." Yes, the Red River Gorge is that special.

The weather for this late October hike was perfect. Mid 30's at night and 50s to 60s during the day. My favorite part of the Red River Gorge hike is the early morning twilight.

I love watching as the fog rolls in just prior to sunrise. The fog fills the valleys and appears luminescent as it catches the light of the gradually brightening sky. Fog creeps over the lower valley trees and temporarily blankets them in obscurity.

Sunrise

Enjoying The Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge Slade Kentucky

A
Slade Kentucky Red River Gorge:
Slade, KY 40376, USA

get directions

© 2018 Ron Grimes

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