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12 October 2010

Romping around Red River Gorge

What are the first 5 things that come to mind when you think of Cincinnati, OH? If you like sports (and the accompanying menu), you probably think:
  1. Bengals
  2. Reds
  3. Skyline
  4. Graeters
  5. Industry
My list is a little different:
  1. Procter & Gamble
  2. Red River Gorge
  3. Hofbrauhaus
  4. Jungle Jim's
  5. Graeters
Ironically, 40% of the items on my list (and probably a higher percentage if I went with top 10) are actually in Kentucky.  I must say, Kentucky is a pretty sweet place. About 1 hour east of Lexington (3 hours south-ish of Cincinnati) lies Red River Gorge, within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Since my first internship at P&G two years ago, I've managed to make it to the gorge/forest 5 times, which is comparable to the number of times I've tasted Graeters ice cream. Ok, enough of that. The point I'm trying to make is that there isn't a whole lot of easily accessible outdoorsy stuff/people in Cincinnati.

Me and Terry, heading out on our second hike!
This past weekend was fall break for Cornell, so what did I do? I hopped on a plane for Cincinnati! Among other less blog-friendly events, Terry and I headed down to Red River Gorge for some hiking. The gorge is famous for its numerous natural rock arches, formed by the Red River over thousands of years.

After an unusually short drive (I call it teleporting, Terry calls it speeding), we arrived in RRG to find that, in addition to the stifling 85+ degree weather, the sky was incredibly hazy, and it smelled like burning trash in much of the park. Sure enough, many sections of the park had been closed off due to forest fires:

Forest fires near Gray's Arch
We stopped by the Gladie Center to get advice on which trails to hike. Terry informed the park rangers that we wanted a 'pretty strenuous' hike.  They were able to recommend a few different hikes. We started off with a short one called the Bison Way Trail (#210). After about a mile it branches, and if you take a left you can take a side trail to the right that takes you up to "Indian Staircase" (which we thought was Indian Circus for way too long). This 'staircase' is really just a big slab of rock with very few things to grab onto. There are a few footholds worn into the rock, but overall it was pretty nerve-wracking. Here's a picture of one leg of the staircase:

"Indian Staircase" - a scary rock slide that we climbed up.

Once we finished that hike, we took a break for a lunch picnic in front of the welcome center. Since many of the trails were closed, we decided to re-hike a trail we'd done previously called the Auxier Ridge Trail (#204). This leads past Haystack Arch to Courthouse Rock:

Courthouse Rock

From there we took the Auxier Branch trail to the Double Arch Trail. The Double Arch is unusual in that it has two gaps in it. In the picture below you can just barely see the top gap in the arch (this picture was taken on the first leg of the hike, before we hiked over to stand underneath it):

As seen from the Auxier Ridge Trail
Here is a picture of the Double Arch as seen from below:

Chilling under the Double Arch (also an advertisement for BayCreek)
We scrambled up to the top of the arch and wandered around. It felt a little strange to be walking on a slab of rock with nothing below it, but it seemed fairly trustworthy since it's been there for thousands of years. Finally, we took the Double Arch trail back to the parking lot. This required us to walk along some dirt roads, but they were quite scenic dirt roads.

Before driving back to Cinci, we made a much needed stop at the famous Miguel's Pizza (a hot spot for the climbers that frequent the gorge). We debated whether the pizza only tasted good because we'd just hiked all day, or because it's actually good pizza... we will never be sure, but it tasted damn good after a long day's hike!


Anonymous said...

wow nena im in absolute love of this - its kind of like a diary and I love it because I want to remember all of these things and now I can! Now I am officially a fan of your blog (and its giving me something to do as im in the manfacturing plant during production on night shift :( but everything is running smoothly so i cant complain (hence why I can read this..) love it and keep up the good work - Terry

Anonymous said...

So happy that Terry shared this with me. I'm really impressed with the Indian Staircase you climbed! Terry is so lucky to have a friend like you! I'm hoping you'll join her at P&G in Cinci next year! Good luck with grad school!
- Terry's Mom

Marika said...

hmm Nena you'll have to teach me teleporting...