It would be a misrepresentation of my life if I did not dedicate a post to the many trips I’ve taken to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Since beginning to lead climb in 2016, a solid group of friends and I like to go to the Red River Gorge every weekend we are able. We camp at Miguel’s, and we usually eat pizza. Although, we’ve been enjoying the Red River Rockhouse lately as well!
This weekend, a group of friends went down to the Garden of the Gods wilderness area of the Shawnee National Forest. We went in hopes to go camping, climbing, and ultimately to experience the 2017 solar eclipse right in the middle of the path of totality. When we came down from our campsite (about a three mile hike into the River-to-River trail) for water on Sunday, we soon realized that it would be a bad idea to leave the Garden of the Gods parking area in order to go climbing. Instead we ate a nice lunch in the picnic area, hiked through the observation trail (amazing!), and enjoyed the views and stars over a valley at our campsite. The eclipse was incredible, and certainly an experience I will remember for the rest of my life! We had the perfect spot on a bluff at our campsite to truly experience the wonder of a total solar eclipse.
Another great part of Monday, August 21 – birthday/eclipse s’mores! I purchased all of the fixings to make vegan s’mores on my birthday (August 20), but mistakenly failed to place the s’mores into the car with us (queue tears). Fortunately, for the benefit of all, my friend Bobby was meeting us later in the weekend and picked up a pack of vegan s’mores! They were such a treat, and the coolness from the eclipse sure made the s’mores extra tasty!
Recently, I’ve enjoyed a green smoothie (my morning companion), a breakfast salad with sweet potato and blueberries (and other items), cookies and cream vegan coconut ice cream, and oatmeal with blueberries and peanut butter.
Earlier this month, David and I travelled to Tennessee to vacation with my dad and family. Of course, we snuck away to go hiking every morning. As a way to get into the zone, we listened to A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson on the drive down to Tennessee. It really affected us, because we were out in the woods and walking every moment we had available1 On our first day, we hiked the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion and the trail to Clingman’s Dome. On the second day, it was quite rainy, but we hiked the Porter’s Creek trail. This one had a nice waterfall on the way where we spent extra time exploring, and we drank an excellent cup of coffee next to the waterfall! (That’s pretty cool.) On the third day we were in town, we hiked the Alum Cave trail. The trail was gorgeous and it went from a hike near a creak to mountain peak vistas and panoramas, to fascinating rock formations. Both David and I agreed that it would make for excellent sport climbing, if they ever chose to put bolts up in Alum Cave! Unfortunately, we had to head back once we arrived at Alum Cave so that we could go White Water Rafting with my family, but we do plan to return and finish the trail to Mount LeConte.
Last year, David and I went on a whirlwind trip to Utah and the Grand Canyon. We had our share of setbacks, including challenges in finding a place to camp, rain that prevented us from climbing in Moab, and a 3+ hour delay due to a massive car crash in the middle of a canyon with alternative route. All of that said, it was the highlight of 2016, and it was the first taste of the beauty of Utah and northern Arizona that had us planning our next trip before we even made it home! And I must say, David is the best travel partner – he constantly has the best attitude, sense of humor, jokes, and ideas for a good time!
Here are a few pictures from our October 2016 tour of Utah and the Grand Canyon. We also made a youtube video of our trip, which features Enya’s Anywhere Is (an anthem of our trip).