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Monthly Archives: March 2015


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Red River Gorge

Kentucky’s Red River Gorge is world-famous for its rock climbing and is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and backpacking as well. Nothing new there. So what don’t you know about the Red? Goatman shall elucidate:

1. RRG could have been turned into a lake, but was saved by a protest hike.

Back in the 1960’s, there was a dam proposed in the area for the purpose of flood control. A group of concerned citizens with the help of the Sierra Club arranged the Dam Protest Hike of 1967. On November 18th, groups were led on a hike of the Red to showcase its unique beauty.

2. RRG is registered as a National Natural Landmark.

The fight to keep the gorge from being drowned led to its inclusion as a National Natural Landmark, as well as being included on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a National Archeological District and the Red River itself, as of 1993, has been declared a National Wild and Scenic River.

3. RRG is home to one of the earliest examples of agriculture being utilized by prehistoric peoples.

With unique rock shelters, RRG is the home of approximately 664 prehistoric and historic archeological sites, some dating back 12,000 years. Examples of early seed gathering and storage have been found in the gorge, as well as everyday items such as baskets and moccasins. For this reason, RRG is a National Archeological District.

4. RRG is one of many supposed sites of John Swift’s Lost Silver Mine.

You may be familiar with the campground bearing his name and the beautiful trail named Swift Camp Creek, but did you know that John Swift was a real man and, according to his journals, he found and consequently buried a fortune in silver. The directions he left are vague (with markers like “by a creek”)  and many other sites claim his silver for themselves.

5. RRG is home to an endangered plant that is unique to the rock shelters of the area.

  That’s right. Real treasure does exist. Namely, the White-haired Golden Rod (Solidago Albopilosa). This flower only grows in one place and that place just happens to be right at RRG. Unfortunately, the number of plants is declining due to human trampling. Take a look at it, memorize it’s shape and color, and please, keep your big feet off of them!

6. RRG is also home to three endangered animals.

The Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) , the Virginia Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), and the Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) all make their home in and around RRG and are all on the endangered species list. Unfortunately, the bat population is being decimated by White-nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that can infect entire colonies of bats. However, you can do your part by not disturbing the caves in which the bats make their home, especially in the winter. If a bat is awakened from its hibernation, it may lose enough body fat in being active to not survive the winter. Be mindful!

7. Kentucky has its very own long trail, the Sheltowee Trace, that goes right through the heart of RRG.

You may have seen the blazes on the trees of a white turtle and wondered what that was all about. That, my friend, is the path of the Sheltowee Trace, a ~300 mile long trail leading from Morehead, KY in the north all the way down to Big South Fork on the KY-TN border. A hike on the trail will take you through Cave Run, Cumberland Falls and, of course, RRG. Don’t have time to hike all 300 miles at once? There’s a group that meets to do it 30 miles at a time over the course of a year.

8. The Clifty Catman is stalking you.

The Clifty Wilderness encompasses the eastern and northeastern sections of the gorge and is home, according to legend, of the Clifty Catman. This creature is the size of a horse, has the skeletal structure of a large cat, the skin of a human and a beautiful baritone singing voice with which he leads hikers astray. Be wary! If you catch a glimpse of the Clifty Catman and live to tell the tale, please comment and let me know what sort of warding talisman you had in your possession.

9. The Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition is buying property to preserve cliff line.

Thus far, two areas have been purchased: the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP),  750 acres, and The Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP), 309 acres. They also host trail building days during the summer which are a lot of fun with a great group of people. Get involved here!

10. The Red River Gorge Trail Crew hosts trail building/clean ups every second Saturday of every month.

A great way to give back to the area that has brought so much joy, RRGCC helps preserve and maintain the gorge so that it will be beautiful for generations to come. They work with the U.S. Forest Service and information concerning volunteering can be found here!

Check out our selection of custom RRG tees and hats! 

with proceedes supporting the RRGCC

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21 Things I Wish I Knew on My First Backpacking Trip

By Kayla McKinney

We all remember our first time out there. The first time we strapped up, laced up those boots, and set off for what was supposed to be a rewarding, life-changing event. Only…the pack was so heavy, you smelled for days, and you just felt so unprepared. Someone told you what to expect, but you didn’t really know. It’s only after we experience mistakes that we learn from them and this is especially true for backpacking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look for advice from those who have been there before.

Below is a list compiled by some friends and me as a memento of what we wish we knew before our very first backpacking trip.

  1. You don’t need 4 pairs of pants.
    1. If you have the right pants, you should be able to wear the same pair for several days in a row. You might not even need two pairs of pants, realistically. The idea is to lighten your pack by only bringing what is necessary.
  2. Cotton is Rotten/Cotton Kills.
    1. Cotton will pull heat from your body if it’s wet. It will smell horribly and won’t dry very quickly. It will chafe and you will be uncomfortable. This includes your favorite pair of jeans and your snuggly soft hoodie. Save them for the city.
  3. There’s no point in bringing razors. You’re not going to shave out there.
    1. Backpacking is not a beauty pageant. Who are you trying to impress? To tell the truth, you can leave the deodorant in the car as well (but don’t forget your toothpaste!)DSC_0194
  4. “There’s no such thing as bad weather! Your discontent is due to improper gear!” – John Ferree
    1. Good gear is important. You don’t have to go overboard, but you want gear that holds up to the elements. Different gear is appropriate in different situations. Gear can be the difference between staying and leaving, a good time and a bad time, or sometimes even life and death.
  5. Footwear is the most important piece of gear you have.
    1. When backpacking, keeping your feet happy is rule number one. A good pair of hiking shoes or boots coupled with merino wool socks will make a world of difference. The soles on these shoes are designed to protect you from rock bruising and support the muscles in your feet differently than other shoes. Merino wool wicks sweat, prevents blisters, and is anti-microbial. If there is one piece of gear that will make all of the difference, it is proper footwear.
  6. “They’ve started making lighter weight tents since 1994 when I bought mine.”– Aaron Boyd
    1. They’ve started making lighter weight versions of nearly everything. Sometimes it’s really worth it to upgrade your gear. These days, you can turn your 50 lb. pack into a 25 lb. pack without sacrificing much of anything.
  7. Modern backpacks come in various sizes and are adjustable to fit the contours of your body.
    1. Everyone is shaped differently, whether it is torso length, hip width, or shoulder girth. Backpacks can and should be customized to fit your body appropriately. Look to someone who knows what they are doing to help you be as comfortable as possible with your bag on. If you borrowed a bag, make sure it is the right size and ask your friend or local outfitter to help you to adjust it to fit you specifically.
  8. “Bring food you like! 7 days of oatmeal for breakfast is better when you end the night with a tasty dinner.” – Todd Cline
    1. Vary your snacks as well. Save something special for a hard day to reward your accomplishments.
  9. You’re going to eat everything you have. Bring more food than you think you’ll need.
    1. Once again, hiking takes a lot of energy, so be mindful and put in the fuel you need so that you’re not running on fumes all day. A long distance hiker can burn up to 5,000 calories a day. Skip low-cal, low-fat foods. Calories and fat are code words for energy.
  10. There’s no bathroom.
    1. No bathroom for days.
  11. If you’re going to use leaves as TP, plan ahead. Make sure there are appropriate leaves where you’re going.
    1. Sometimes I grab nice leaves as I walk past them knowing that they will be useful later. You want large, smooth, and abundant leaves.
  12. Bring sunscreen.
    1. If you are outside all day, the sun will burn you. This goes especially for times when you’re above tree line, right up in the sun’s business. Sleeping in a sleeping bag is terrible if you are sunburnt.
  13. “…it’s good to hike early in the morning, but not to be first on the trail. Spider web clearing is a creepy job.”– TJStatt
    1. If you do have the job of being first in line, first thing in the morning, consider waving a stick in front of you as you walk to clear the spider webs. Trekking poles work great. If you’re afraid of spiders, perhaps let someone else lead.
  14. Marmots are cute, but can be evil. Same goes for mice, raccoons, porcupines and chipmunks.
    1. If you let them, they’ll eat everything. Your food, socks, hip belts, etc.
  15. Snakes, bears and other dangerous animals rarely want anything to do with you.DSC_0610
    1. You are a bear’s only predator. They want to be far away from you. Let them be and obey proper bear country safety tips.
    2. Most snake bites occur when the animal is handled. Give them space and they’ll give you space.
  16. Waking up to watch the sunrise is always worth it no matter how cold and tired you are.
    1. The sun will warm your body and getting an early start will ensure that you enjoy all that nature has to offer. Every day starts with a sunrise. Enjoy them.
  17. Never try to cross an exposed ridge or summit after noon if possible.
    1. Afternoon storms are the real deal and should not be taken lightly. Never underestimate a big cloud. Things can escalate quickly and there’s little to no protection up above tree line.
  18. It is worth it to climb out of your tent and urinate in the middle of the night.
    1. You will sleep better. You will be warmer not having to keep waste fluid at body temperature all night. Plus, you will get the chance to appreciate the night sky in all of its glory.
  19. “Carrying firewood into the forest is unnecessary weight.” – KurtGaerther
    1. Surprisingly not as obvious as it should be: there’s usually a lot of dead wood in the forest (and only use dead wood! Live, green wood doesn’t burn well). Pay attention to the regulations in place if you plan on building a fire. Also note that bringing in firewood from another area can spread parasites and is forbidden in many states.
  20. Duct tape is extremely useful.
    1. You can repair gear, prevent blisters, make a belt, and find a hundred other uses. Wrap it around your water bottle or trekking poles to save room. It is a multifunctional tool.
  21. Cameras will never do it justice.
    1. If you really want someone to see the place, take them there.

Nobody knows it all. Even the most experienced backpacker makes mistakes now and then. Despite all the things it seems like you need to know before you go, go anyway without knowing it all. Take chances and learn from your mistakes. The only thing you really need to know is that it’s always worth it.

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