Sunday, February 11, 2018


Dayhike 2/9/18
Sheltowee Connector Trailhead
Red River Gorge

I decided that today would be a good day to check out Cloudsplitter. I've been hiking in the gorge to long to never have even hiked past it, not to mention climbed it. So I started at the Sheltowee Connector trailhead and headed north to the swinging bridge and the Sheltowee Trace.

On my way to Cloudsplitter, I checked out the Arch Nursery trail from Hinterlands. It is a short trail with a neat rock shelter that looks like it could end up as an arch in a couple more million years.

The rock shelter is really big, this is a pano from 7 individual photos

There was a lot of water pouring out of a large crack, it was hard to capture the water, but I did get the rainbow

Then up the trail, towards Cloudsplitter. I skipped the Nowhere trail with the idea I would catch it on the way back to the car. I found the trial to Cloudsplitter and made the scramble up to the real climb and I chickened out. The 20 foot smooth sandstone did not look like a good idea, especially since I was alone. I had lunch below Cloudsplitter and then followed the user trail up towards the ridge. It ended up circling around and connecting with the Nowhere trail 

I enjoyed the view of Cloudsplitter from the Nowhere trail

When I got back to the Sheltowee Trace, I still had a couple hours to hike, so I repeated my steps back towards Cloudsplitter and then continued past to check out Adena Arch and the view. 

Huge rockface, this is a vertical pano stitched from 5 photos

Looks like sea shells

Carrying out other people's beer cans is bad enough, but spray paint cans??? Come on!!!

In the end, I hiked about 10 miles and saw some new parts of the gorge. But, I am a little disappointed that I was not able to do the Cloudsplitter climb. I think it falls in the better safe than sorry category, maybe I'll be able to complete the climb some day.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Empty Auxier Ridge

Auxier Ridge
Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone NF
Trailhead: Martins Fork

Dayhike 1/23/18
Backpack 2/2 - 2/3/18 (1 night)

2018 bag nights: 1

The Forest Service has closed Tunnel Ridge Road for repairs which means it takes a little effort to get out to Auxier Ridge. I decided to take advantage of the closure. I started at the Martin Fork Trailhead and took the "backdoor" up to the ridge. I first hiked north and checked out the view of Ravens Rock and then south towards the road and Auxier Ridge.

The clouds were low and grey and made for a striking looking sky, but the wind was gusting about 40 miles per hour which made it feel a lot colder than the actual temperature of low 40s. I hiked lots and did not linger for many photos.

Looking at the "backdoor" ridge, the Martin Fork trail head is to the left and the Tunnel Ridge Road to the right. 

One of the few times I have had the view of Haystack Rock all to myself.

I hiked back on the road to the Grays Arch trail head and took the D Boone Trail back to the car.

I enjoyed the solitude so much that I decided my first backpacking trip of 2018 would be Auxier Ridge. So a week and a half later I was pulling into the Martin Fork lot. The forecast was a lot colder (lows around 15), but thankfully very little wind and lots of sunshine. I was really hoping for clear skies at night so I could try out my new camera with the stars.

When I got to the lot, it was still snowing, but it stopped after about an hour. Since I had a pack and the ground was covered with snow, I decided that a scramble up a rockface was not a good idea, so I went up the D Boone trail and then out the road.

I went a little way out the Jailhouse Rock trail, but bushwacking through snow covered brush was not very fun, so I decided to stick to the official trails and headed out the Double Arch trail. First I checked out the Rocky Branch Overlook trail which was a new one for me.

I then headed for Double Arch, very weird to have this popular spot to myself.

I had never noticed this rock before, looks like a snake head

Then over to the other side of the valley and Auxier Ridge. I set up camp and then hiked back towards Courthouse Rock to cook dinner and wait for the sunset and some stars. It was just past a full moon, so I knew there would be a lot of light to make my way back to camp once the sun set.

Courthouse Rock waiting for the sunset.

It wasn't the best sunset I've seen, but it was nice. I was hopeful that the limited number of clouds boded well for stars.

It was cold waiting for the stars to come out, but it was worth it. Looking south with Orion peaking out from behind the trees.

Looking north towards Cassiopeia, I even got the Andromeda Galaxy by accident (the small smudge near the middle left)

Orion again and then time for bed.

Since the forecast called for zero chance of rain/snow, I decided to cowboy camp for the first time. I don't know that I would have been warmer in my hammock, but I was very cold in the night and ended up being wide awake at 6:45, plenty of time for a short hike to catch the sunrise.

Pano composed of 6 individual photos

Mountain ridges catching the sun

Double Arch catching the morning sun

I quickly ate breakfast after the sunrise and headed back to the car. I was really surprised as I got close to the Auxier Ridge trailhead to hear voices. It turned out to be four young guys from Cincinnati who had woke up early and drove down for the day, they said they had hiked in from the gate at the beginning of the road. I gave them some ideas for destinations and went on my way. 

I got to the Grays Arch trailhead and headed down the Rough Trail and ran into a solo woman heading up the trail and then not long later ran into three guys my age who had camped up on the ridge near Grays Arch. I passed a couple more dayhikers and when I got to the parking lot there were about 10 cars there, very different from my one car the day before. I ended up with complete solitude for the part I cared about so I was happy. Not a bad way to start 2018.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Raven Run Reflections

Dayhike at Raven Run

I needed some outdoor time, but did not have a lot of time so I spent a couple hours at Raven Run. I did not really feel like hiking, so I decided to concentrate on photography with a little hiking thrown in. I also decided that I needed more practice photographing reflections, so that was the day's assignment, a little outdoor time, a little hiking and think about reflections. I'm pretty happy with the photo results and ~4 miles of hiking was just what I needed.

And one waterfall/cascade

Friday, January 12, 2018

Berea Pinnacles

January 11, 2017

Day hike at the Berea Pinnacles
Berea KY

We had a warm front blow through and bring daytime highs into the 60s for a couple of days (very different from the week before) and I decided to take advantage of the day. The Berea Pinnacles have been on my todo list for a while and this looked like a good day to check it out. The forecast called for the rain to be done around 9am. While I was driving, a bit of rain came and went. I got to the trailhead and got out of the car to take off my fleece and it started to rain again, so I waited 5 minutes with the remainder of my coffee and the rain disappeared for the day. Perfect.

Map from the Berea website.

I first hiked up to the East Pinnacle and very much enjoyed the view. I'll bet it gets crowded on a nice weekend day, but today I had it all to myself. The sky was very interesting looking, occasionally the sun would come through the clouds enough to cast a shadow, but mostly very overcast, but neat clouds.

A pano stitched from 5 photos. I wanted to emphasize the clouds for this one.

Another pano with the valley and the clouds.

Along the trail was a huge rock with very obvious sedimentary layers, crazy to think all of Kentucky was under a sea 500 million years ago.

One last shot from the East Pinnacle.

I then headed towards the Eagle Nest. That ended up being a great place for lunch, not a bad view either.

After lunch, I looked at the map and decided to check out the end of the trail and headed out towards Robe and Basin Mountains. This was a good trail with a bit of steep ups and downs, but the best part was getting to the top of Basin Mountain.

You can see the yellow blaze on the right hand tree, the trail goes up through the crack in the rock.

A little easier to see the passage here.

After that I checked out the Rock House/Devil's Kitchen. The first photo is in the Rock House, the second is from the ridge looking down.

I ended up spending about 4 hours hiking and thoroughly enjoyed the area, but I am not sure I will be back soon. The views are great, but the Gorge is better and I suspect that this area is very crowded on nice days and since it is so much smaller than the Gorge it would likely feel crowded. With that said, if I lived in Berea or Richmond, I'd likely be here quite a bit. I'm very glad I checked it out. 

Friday, January 5, 2018


A couple dayhikes at Raven Run in Lexington and the Red River Gorge
January 2 & 3 2018

The temperature has not been above freezing in more than a week which means it is time to find frozen waterfalls.

I visited Raven Run on a very sunny afternoon, no clouds and lots of ice and snow. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be a mostly black and white day for photos. 


I tried photographing some of the more interesting ice crystal patterns, but this was the only one worth saving.

The next day I dropped my kids off at school and headed for the Gorge to check out a popular summer waterfall.

This rock face always fascinates me, I love the geometric patterns in the rock.

 When I got back to my car for lunch, I had about 2 hours until I had to leave to pick up my kids, so I decided to check out Creation Falls and Rock Bridge.

Both days were awesome winter weather, sunny and dry with highs right about 20 degrees. As long as I kept moving, I was very comfortable. But, when I stopped to photograph, my hands ended up very cold. I think I need a better pair of gloves.