Well, the good news is that the swelling in Neil’s ankle has gone done considerably since Tuesday evening and it’s feeling a lot better. Not too much soreness unless he twists it the wrong way or bangs it…but overall it’s improving…and since it’s less swollen even after our hike today that’s an even better sign. The bad news is that the other day’s purpleness doesn’t hold a candle to today’s…it’s continuing to get more and more rainbow colored. I’ll wait until tomorrow or Sunday and take another shot for you…ya just gotta see this to believe it.
Anyhoo; we got up early this morning and after coffee headed out about 0900 or so. First stop was the visitor center up in Winchester to pick up some brochures for stuff we’re planning over the weekend. After that we found a mailbox and mailed some important work forms for Connie then we hopped onto the Mountain Parkway and headed southeast about 35 miles to the Red River Gorge.
The gorge is a really old one as canyons go…as you are probably aware the Smoky Mountains are much older than the Rockies are…this is why they’re shorter and much more rounded on top as they’ve had millions of years more to erode into their current shape whereas the Rockies are just young whippersnappers as mountain ranges go.
The gorge is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest and you enter the gorge through the Nada Tunnel…this was a railroad tunnel back in the day but has been repurposed into a single lane tunnel. You can see all the way through so you just check for traffic before entering. It’s 12 feet high and 11 wide…one of the narrower tunnels we have driven through. It essentially just penetrates a single ridge and is about 300 or 400 yards long. Construction of the tunnel back in the 1800’s resulted in only two deaths…a man and his dog who were killed when the man tried to thaw out some frozen dynamite with a campfire. Sounds like a really bad plan to me.
Continuing on we arrived at the Gladie Creek Historical Area where there is this cool barn with some quilt looking decorations similar to the hex signs that they put up on barns in the Amish areas in the northeast…we have no idea why they did this but have noticed a lot of barns in Kentucky decorated this way. There is also a cabin on the property that is being restored.
We only got 1 decent view of the Red River itself…the water is still pretty low and the flow slow and gentle. Looks like it would be a great river to paddle on but not today as it was cool and rainy most of the day.
Moving on towards the higher elevations in the gorge we were caught by a pretty heavy rain shower for awhile…which cleared up just long enough for a nice shot across the gorge with clouds passing through it below us. He really likes the way shot turned out after HDR processing.
After that we headed down for lunch at the Sky Bridge Station Restaurant…Connie found this and we had a truly outstanding lunch. If you’re in Red River Gorge Kentucky you definitely need to check this place out. Our cook and bartender was EJ (Epic Journey he calls himself) and he tapped us a couple of great beers. Neil had a pint of Shotgun Wedding Vanilla Brown Ale and Connie had Bourbon Barrel Ale…both were darker red beers but the Shotgun was a tad darker. Both of them sampled both brews and even though the Shotgun was 5.3% alcohol and the Bourbon Barrel was 8.2% the latter was really smooth and tasty. This is unusual as typically beers with a higher alcohol content lose some smoothness…but this was outstanding. By the time we polished off those two our lunches…Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla for Neil and a Bratwurst with the works for Connie…the food was really good too; anyway we ordered another single pint of the Bourbon Barrel Ale and split it between ourselves. Here’s a shot of the bar and one of EJ pouring our pint.
We talked to EJ and he recommended a short hike nearby that had a waterfall and an arch on it. We considered this and decided to give it whirl, figuring that if Neil’s foot hurt we could just turn around. A short 3 mile drive down a pretty decent gravel road to the picnic area trailhead and we were off.
I gotta tell ya…this was about the toughest mile and a half hike we’ve been on in quite awhile. Between Neil’s ankle (it hurt some going downhill but he decided it was more due to the inside of it banging his high top hiking boots rather than pain in the sprain), the 300 feet or so of elevation change down and up, his still getting over a cold and the slippery trail from the rain that had at least stopped falling by now we were really, really glad when we got back to the top. Along the way we got some nice shots of Creation Falls…about a 20 foot or so total drop between the two falls…as well as a nice view of the Rock Bridge Arch over Swift Camp Creek.
We made it back to the car about 55 minutes after leaving it…slow going both down and up hill made this hike take much longer than the normal 30 or 35 minutes we would do for a mile and a half. After a quick stop at the picnic area bathrooms we headed home.
Dinner was left over pork tenderloin from the other night along with noodles tossed with toasted and spiced bread crumbs…Neil’s family members will remember this side dish their mom used to make. He improved it by using Panko crumbs instead of regular bread or packaged crumbs because the Panko maintains it’s crispy crunch even after it’s been mixed with butter, olive oil, powdered garlic and Italian herb mix. We also had a couple of King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Rolls…we saw these advertised the other night on TV…you’ve probably seen the ad where they suck them out of the bowl and across the room directly into their mouth…then we saw them in Walmart and decided to give them a try. Mighty tasty and really paired well with the rest of dinner.
Tomorrow we’ve got more fun stuff planned I think as well as Sunday and part of the day on Monday (have to fit it in around Connie working on Monday).