Our Last Days In The Gorge

Caron and I spent the next few days and nights exploring the Gorge. We traveled via the Sheltowee Trace Trail a majority of the time. I wondered about those who had traveled the trail before and the history behind it. I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to the first time I had been on this specific trail, referring to the “blazes” as simply “turtles” not knowing their significance or what a blaze even was.

Caron and I climbed up along a ridge and I pointed out the scars left from a forest fire. I remembered hiking past this same section many years before with Darwin in the dark. Darwin and I had passed by burning embers and flames as our adrenaline pumped after being woken up and questioned by the Forest Service still several hours before daybreak. A campfire had gotten out of control and we were informed to evacuate as our camp spot was in the middle of a full-blown forest fire.

Caron and I continued hiking admiring the blooming Mountain Laurels and lost time watching the butterflies flutter around them. Eventually, we made our camp by a stream and enjoyed the company of a small (and controlled) campfire that evening. We reviewed our day and the lessons we had learned such as the below:

Check Your Mac & Cheesepowdered cheese is better for camping the liquid is just disappointing

Use A Go Girl Only When Fully Awakeusing it while in your tent half asleep will prove to be messy

The next morning we took our time packing up camp and decided to hike back out to the car in order to explore more areas of the Gorge we would be unable to hike to. We spent some time in the Visitor’s Center learning about the Gorge’s flora, fauna, and legends still being told about the area. We then drove to a few visitas looking down into a thick green and humid wilderness, trimmed with beautiful gray and brown rock outcroppings.

We ate lunch at a developed picnic area and consulted our maps, finding a trailhead to park at deciding to hike in just a few miles to camp for the evening. Hiking out a lot further than we both expected, we settled for a less than desirable campsite. The long-distance hiker in me had to grit my teeth in order to say this was our home for the night. The urge to keep hiking until a better spot came along was strong but as many may know, that perfect campsite usually doesn’t exist. I had to remind myself this was not that type of hike; it was not the miles that matter but the experience. Old habits die hard I suppose and spending time with good friends never lasts long enough.

The last few days of hiking seemed to wash over both of us as everything seemed to become a struggle, especially for me to hang a bear bag. Finally fed and camp chores done, we retreated to our tents.

The next morning marked our fourth and last day. We hiked back out to the car and said our goodbyes to the wilderness as we drove back through the Nada Tunnel. We came out the other side greeted by civilization and made our way to a well-deserved hot breakfast and coffee before our drive home.

 

 

Neato Stuffs:

The Dirtbag’s Guide To Life – Review Coming Soon! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures – more stories from the Gorge can be found here!

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

Return to Red River Gorge

 

Return to Red River Gorge

I was on my way to the Gorge. I didn’t know if I would ever be back to this magical place; the place where it happened. After years of trial and error, fears and discomfort, I finally relaxed and let it all in. I first fell in love with backpacking in Red River Gorge (Daniel Boone National Forest).

Five years from my last visit, I was returning to the Gorge with my friend Caron. With Darwin away in Scotland it dawned on me this was my first time backpacking without him. I was now the one with the most experience.

We started our trip off with a visit to Miguel’s for pizza. The place had grown significantly since Darwin and I had last eaten there. The environment that had once seemed overwhelming with dirty climbers and hikers now felt like home. I was immediately taken back to a time with my tramily, lounging around outside a place and stuffing ourselves silly with food, feeling refreshed from a very overdue shower. As Caron and I  ate conversation was easy and our excitement for the trail grew.

We approached the Nada Tunnel, a symbol of transition; leaving civilization for the wilderness. We entered the one car tunnel leaving behind cabins, gas stations and cell signal for a world of waterfalls and rivers, cliff faces and vistas. Everything was the same as I remembered as we drove to the trailhead but somehow different; I was different.

Caron and I sorted the last bit of our food at the car and took a pre-hike photo at the trailhead before heading off. I tried to remember my life the last time I had started off hiking up this same trail. I couldn’t exactly remember but I know I wasn’t as confident, as open to letting the adventure just happen back then.

We hiked on a dirt trail and up wooden stairs, down rock faces, and over streams until it was time to set up camp. We turned a bend and came up to a spot that I specifically remember from years ago. Darwin and I had come across the spot before but it was too early to stop hiking. Now coming across the same spot, it was perfect and where we called home for the night.

Setting up tents, filtering water, and hanging a bear bag are typical chores for a backpacking trip but with a good friend, each event is full of laughs and thoroughly entertaining. As darkness closed in, Caron and I retreated to our individual tents, emerging only once when Caron announced it was a full moon.

We stood next to each other gazing up at the bright plump moon hanging in the sky. A blessing of goodwill on our first night of my first girl’s trip and a fond reminder of trips past in the light of another full moon.

(Caron And I At The Trailhead; Me At Camp)

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 

4 Day/3 Night Trip In Red River Gorge (KY) Gear List

4 Day/3 Night Red River Gorge Trip Gear List

Magellan Falcon Lake Long Sleeve

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

Sports Bra

1 – Darn Tough Endurance Socks –https://amzn.to/2EGTnyp

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Buff – https://amzn.to/2EdYan7

Hat

New Balance 610v5 Trail Shoe – https://amzn.to/2Eeo3X4

 

Other Clothes: 

 

Toiletries:

Go Girl – https://amzn.to/2LXDpph

Pads/Tampons

Travel Tooth Brush & Toothpaste

Shit Tickets & Sanitizer

 

While Darwin’s Away…

I took Darwin to the airport yesterday, the first part of his journey to Scotland. We said our goodbyes and as he entered the line to go through TSA I lingered. We watched and chatted about the awkwardness of partially undressing and being “inspected” in public.

As he started loading his belongings into a bin, we waved to each other and that was that. I drove off from the airport in the Clydesdale, finally taking my place once again behind the wheel.

Sometimes it’s hard to leave a loved one but it honestly didn’t bug me this time. Perhaps I have left Darwin behind at trailheads so much I know what to expect now or the knowledge that he’s taking advantage of an opportunity to travel abroad (something neither of us of done before) made me happy for him.

As I drove, I thought of the trips I have planned this month…

The maps I had sitting on a table waiting to be reviewed and discussed with a friend…

The empty pack waiting to be loaded with gear and taken on its first big backpacking trip…

The new tent that should be arriving the next day…

I have my own plans and itinerary for May and although they are not as extravagant as hiking in another country, they are my plans and I’m pretty damn excited.

If you are someone who has a loved one hiking, traveling, etc. for an extended period of time and you’re staying behind, you may find this article I wrote for Outdoor Evolution helpful.

How to Show Support for a Thru-Hiker 

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(Darwin Outside Of The Airport)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 

Humidity…

Darwin’s 2019 Scotland TGO Challenge Gear List

 

8.31 lbs – On my Back

2.56 lbs – Fanny Pack w/ Camera Equipment

Total Base Weight – 10lb 14oz (4.93 kg)

 

Pack:

Zpacks NERO – https://zpacks.com/products/nero-backpack?aff=7

Waymark Fanny Pack – https://www.waymarkgearco.com/accessories/waymark-fanny-packs

 

Shelter: 

ZPacks Plexamid Tent – https://zpacks.com/products/plexamid-tent?aff=7

10 Carbon Stakes – https://zpacks.com/products/carbon-fiber-stake?aff=7

 

Sleep System: 

EE Enigma Quilt

Thermarest Neo Air  –  http://amzn.to/2nOaOkA

Aeros UL Pillow – https://amzn.to/2uCaPkm

EE Side Kicks

 

Cook System: 

BRS UL Stove – https://amzn.to/2GPlJqY

SnowPeak 700 Ti Mug – https://amzn.to/2PEeGnR

Sea to Summit Spoon – http://amzn.to/2nqpICn

Zpacks Cuben Food Bag – https://zpacks.com/products/bear-bagging-kit?aff=7

Katadyn BeFree 1L Filter – https://amzn.to/2xr9CLG

1L Water Bottle(Swart Water Bottle)

 

Clothes:

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket – https://zpacks.com/products/vertice-rain-jacket?aff=7

Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants – https://zpacks.com/products/vertice-rain-pants?aff=7

EE Torrid APEX Jacket

Ice Breaker Merino Wool T – http://amzn.to/2wM43Vc

Patagonia LW Tights – https://amzn.to/2Xuzn9u

Darn Tough Endurance Socks –https://amzn.to/2EGTnyp

Columbia SilverRidge Lite LS Shirt – http://amzn.to/2ocpLAv

Nike Pro Running Shorts – http://amzn.to/2wH3KQ8

Buff – https://amzn.to/2EdYan7

Altra Timp 1.5 – https://amzn.to/2W8MsEo

 

Electronics:

Canon M50 – https://amzn.to/2Xu6c6c

Canon EF-M 22 – https://amzn.to/2Xu68Du

Rokinon 12mm – https://amzn.to/2PArQCt

Rode Video Micro – https://amzn.to/2XmJ61z

DJI Osmo Pocket – https://amzn.to/2LoGdLL

Anker Dual Port Plug – https://amzn.to/2EztCzF

Anker 20100 Charger – https://amzn.to/2BWv2mb

Pedco UltraPod II – https://amzn.to/2tHNM4h

Various Charging Cables

UCO Air Headlamp – http://amzn.to/2kZbubo

Iphone 7 Plus – http://amzn.to/2iQkdIi

UK Power Adaptor

 

Misc:

Zpacks Ditty Bag – https://zpacks.com/products/small-dry-bag?aff=7

Zpacks Passport Pouch – https://zpacks.com/products/passport-zip-pouch-1?aff=7

BD Ergo Carbon Cork Trekking Pole – https://amzn.to/2DbagCo

Leuko Tape  – http://amzn.to/2xYkDGr

Victorinox Classic SD Knife – https://amzn.to/2GHkaKx

Deuce of Spades Trowel – http://amzn.to/2GwhVsA

Sea to Summit Head Net – https://amzn.to/2GL54Ud

First Aid Kit

Misc. Toilettes

Sunglasses

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Humidity…

Mugginess, stuffiness, clamminess, and damp…

Humidity, Humidity, your easy to forget when I’m away and when I’m back you always stay.

It’s warm outside and you wrap yourself around me like a blanket; I try to sweat you off.

You make me feel like I’m trapped in a greenhouse; plants and flowers thrive but my puny human form, only wilts under your weight.

You make my hair go flat and everything I touch feels sticky; those out West try to make you, while the Mid West only hates you.

Dankness, airless, wetness, and swelter…

Humidity, Humidity, please go away and hover over another town, some other day.

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(Taking A Break On The AT back in 2016…This Day Was VERY Humid)

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 

Earth Day Ride