Friday, September 30, 2016

Tarr Ridge

Tarr Ridge Trailhead
Red River Gorge

I decided to take a personal day and head to the gorge. I had heard good things about Tarr Ridge and it sounded like a good way to fill a couple hours and maybe scout for a place to hang a hammock.

I got to the trailhead and there were two cars there, one with an overnight hang tag and one without. I was a little disappointed since I had hoped the weekday and the weather would give me the ridge to myself.

It was grey and overcast and damp, but the views were fantastic. The mist/clouds made for atmosphere, but made it some difficult to get good photos.

Spent some time watch the mist and listening to the birds. A cup of coffee at this point would have been nice.

And then I headed towards the Tarr Ridge Extravaganza trail and a couple more overlooks. I ran into the owners of the cars. The guy had camped out and his girlfriend had met him that morning. They were nice to talk to and I appreciated that they were picking up other people's trash like I tend to do. We chatted for a couple minutes and then I headed towards the end of the ridge, stopping at another overlook along the way.

I got to the end and followed the long rock wall at the end of the Tarr Ridge Extravaganza trail until it cliffed out ...

...  and then climbed up the rock with the help of a rope that someone left and finished the hike out to the end of the ridge. The view is pretty amazing, I just wished the clouds had broke and let in a little more sun. It was a great place to just sit and look.

I'm going to try to make it back when the leaves are changing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On top of the stairs

9/2 - 9/3/16
Bison Way Trailhead - Red River Gorge
2016 bag nights: 18

The weather forecast for Labor Day weekend was looking fantastic (clear with highs in the low 80s). I mentioned to my wife that instead of staying home this weekend and hosting a pool party, I should be taking the kids camping. She said I should go do a one night trip by myself. No problem.

I have been wanting to try a little more astrophotography and the clear night that was forecast sounded good, so it was just a matter of figuring out where to go that would give me a clear view of the sky. I decided that the Indian Staircase area in the gorge would work, my only fear was there would be a ton of people given a weekend with nice weather. The gorge was packed, but it seemed to be mostly dayhikers when I got to the trailhead after leaving work early on Friday.

Since I was only going a couple of miles, I carried Subway for dinner along with a couple beers (Two Hearted) and my chair (Alite Monarch). It was awesome sitting at the top of the staircase waiting for the sunset.

A great place to hang for the night. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a shooting star from the comfort of the hammock.

It was a nice sunset, but I was hoping for a little bit more color in the clouds. In the end, I was glad the clouds weren't very spectacular since the stars probably would have sucked.

The stars were great, but I did not get many good photos because the trees were in the way. Being at the edge of the cliff line meant that I did not have a lot of room to move for a better angle. In the photo below, the light on the horizon is light pollution from (I think) Slade. I was really surprised at the amount of light coming from the Mountain Parkway area. I was also surprised how many airplanes fly over the gorge. A lot of the photos ended up with a light streak through the middle from an airplane flying through the 20 second exposure.

Pretty sure I will never camp at the top of the staircase again. Three guys came up about 11pm (I was still watching the stars) and then a couple more guys appeared around 1130 after I was in the hammock. Personally, I can't imagine wandering around a cliffline in the middle of the night, but I guess this type of behavior is why people die in the gorge every year. 

Woke up as the sky was getting lighter, decided if I was going to get any sunrise photos I needed to drag myself out of the hammock. There were basically no clouds, so it was not an "impressive" sunrise, but the mist in the valley was pretty and it was a nice view for breakfast.

A nice morning walk up on the ridge

Someone had a little too much time on their hands :)

Lots of flowers around a clearing up on the ridge

A nice view of the Indian Staircase ridge from across the valley

A couple more random photos

All in all, a pretty good way to spend approximately 20 hours. I need to do more trips like this in the future.