The Red River Gorge Part II: Jump Rock, Cloud Splitter and Indian Staircase


Hello Peeps!

(Edited to add:  I started this post a few nights ago after work!)

I am blogging today from Harry Buffalo with a refreshing Blue Moon on the mahogany  bar!  Sometimes on a hot summer day you just have to do what you have to do!  Smile  I only worked my normal hours today and it felt great to get off of work at a decent hour!  I went home, changed, loaded up the backpack and went for a walk.  I was originally going to go to the coffee shop but hey… why not a refreshing beverage?!

Ok…Let’s dig into part two of the amazing wondrous Red River Gorge!

While the first day or so was pretty awesome, nothing could compare to the last two days.  We woke up Saturday morning packed up our tents and gear and headed back to the car to drive waaaaay across the park to a place so great that I can only describe it as humbling and beyond beautiful.  We reloaded on water and hiked with our packs a tiny bit to the RIVER! Down about a mile on a worn path then across this really cool little suspension bridge.

Photo: Matthew
Photo: Matthew
Now when you have been on the trail for a couple of days, a body of water is a sight for sore eyes, legs, shoulders and minds!!!  As we were hiking the short distance to the campsite that Dingo and Matthew had scouted out ahead of time as we were repacking and reloading on water, we were watching all sorts of people jumping off the ginormous rock that loomed above the water about 35 feet.  Now that may not seem high to some people…but trust me, when you are standing on top of it and looking down it is definitely high!!!!  So a couple of us quickly set up our tents and headed to the rock to jump into the cool refreshing Red River!!!  Now, I am not afraid of heights but my friend Eliese is!  Guess who stood atop the rock chickening out while the other jumped in like it was not big deal?!  I was scared!!!  What the heck dudes?  Eliese was like, “Whatever man” and jumped in like it was nothing!  About 10 minutes later I jumped with help of a bunch of dudes goading me and cheering me on from the other side!  It was TOTALLY AWESOME!!!  It felt so good to cool off and just swim around and take in all the beauty and everyone’s positivity on the shores of the river!  I was in an absolute state of bliss!  I ended up jumping a couple more times Open-mouthed smile

Jump Rock!! Photo: Matthew
Jump Rock!! Photo: Matthew
Most of us jumped from the rock and swam for a little while and then headed back to camp all “clean” (lol…) and put on clean dry clothes.  Aaaahhhh…. it felt great to be somewhat “clean!”  We then cooked our own individual dinner and gathered around the fire with some tasty spirits!  We had sooo much fun sharing stories and comparing thoughts and notes about the trip thus far.  Even the quiet ones of the group started to speak up and share…Ahem.. Matthew and Dingo.  😉  We fell asleep under the stars with clean bodies, full bellies and smiles on all our faces!  It was the perfect ending to an incredible day!

We woke up Sunday morning to the patter of rain on a tent/hammock flys and were seriously debating whether or not we would be able to conquer Indian Staircase.  I am SO TOTALLY HAPPY that the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy the rest of our day!  We loaded up our gear and threw it in the car.  We then put on our day packs and trekked out to the first stop, Cloud Splitter.  Now there were 2 ways to get to this spot.  The easy way, and the hard way.  Dingo, Darwin and I chose the hard way…lol.  It really wasn’t all that bad.  The hike was pretty vertical but the distance was short…thank goodness because after consuming a few spirits the night before I was grateful for the short vertical hike!  The other 3/4’s of the group chose the “easier” way gradually winding up the side of the hill that led to the rock and somehow we completely missed them at our anticipated meetup point.  I stayed behind at the base of what turned out to be Cloud Splitter.  I was there by myself for about 30-40 minutes and decided to turn the surrounding rocks into a bouldering outing.  It was a smaller boulder but none the less it felt so good to be “climbing.”  Side note: The Red River Gorge is also a hot spot destination for rock climbing.

my little bouldering problem!
my little bouldering problem!
It was fun climbing the different routes I found and it passed the time rather quickly.  🙂

When we finally met up with rest of group we headed up to the tackle Cloud Splitter.

When climbing to the top of Cloud Splitter you can either take the narrow winding path or use the precarious rope (God only knows how old it is) that makes the ascent way more fun.  I of course chose the rope!

Photo: Darwin
Photo: Darwin
When got to the top of the rock the views were impressive.  However, a local guide we stumbled upon showed us the real reason why the rock got it’s name.  First, we had to get to that spot.

There was climbing up an old tree log, shimmying our way through the crack of the rock and finding our footing to climb down to the “hole” in the side of the rock.

Shimmying down! Photo: Dhino
Shimmying down! Photo: Digno
When we finally worked our way through the rock we ended up here…

Cloud Splitter from afar. Photo: Dingo
Cloud Splitter from afar.
Photo: Dingo
The cut out in the middle of the rock is where we ended up and going the route we went is the only way to get there.  It was beyond cool to be peering out the middle of a massive rock.  Second to none was the seeing why the rock received it’s name.

The rock splits the clouds! Photo: Matthew
The rock splits the clouds! Photo: Matthew
Once you are inside of this impressive rock, you look up to see the clouds being split by the slit in the rock.  We were all in awe.  Knowing that this has been here for thousands of years and being able to witness this striking vision, well, it humbles you beyond belief.  We are just a speck and the world is our playground.

Next we moved on to Indian Staircase.  There aren’t any marked trails and the locals don’t really share too much info on it’s whereabouts.  Again, they try to keep some things sacred.    The way these foot holds have endured over the years is just plain awesome.  Sometimes when I get to a really cool spot I sit there and wonder about how the place was back in the day.  I love it!

Ok now….the ascent wasn’t that bad.  However, the descent freaked me out a bit!

Pictures first, talk second!

Grooves in the granite
Grooves in the granite “stairs.” We didn’t have any really good photos so I borrowed one from
Photo: http://www.reddit.com
descent down uptostaircase

It was sketchy going up. We had to scramble up some pretty big rocks but it was fun climbing. 🙂 However, going down…ugh… I made Matthew stay in front of me the whole time because I thought for sure I would slide off the darn thing!  It was sandy and therefore slippery.  I was relieved my body didn’t end up and the bottom of the gorge!  I pictured myself sliding down uncontrollably like in a cartoon or something and then being catapulted way up in the air and then like Wile E. Coyote, suddenly stopping mid-air and just plummeting straight down!  Hahaha…not funny!

When you reached to top you could see well over 180°!  Gorgeous!!  You could also shuffle your way down to Frog’s Head.  Be careful though because there is nothing on but a shear drop on either side of the “head.”  I didn’t shuffle down because after consuming a few spirits the night before I was not fully trusting my footing.

Frogs head Photo: Dingo
Frogs head
Photo: Dingo
The pictures we took DO NOT do this place justice!  If you ever get a chance to visit I would make a must see on your list.  It was a rather impressive journey.

We met a group of young guys who were climbing up the same as us and one kid had the most interesting design on his body.

Photo: Melissa
Photo: Melissa
Yep! He was riding in a convertible without a shirt on…but at least he had his seat belt on!!  LOL…..

Speaking of really cool guys I want to mention a great kid we all met the night we cowboy camped on the ridge underneath a blanket of stars (and one unsightly cell tower.)  His name is Thomas and he was out solo packing.  He was sweet, kind and personable.  I love meeting awesome people on the trail.  He has his head on straight and is smart.  Meet Thomas 🙂

Great kid! Photo: Me
Great kid! Photo: Me
When all was climbed, hiked, swam and thoroughly explored we load up our gear and headed down to Miguel’s for some great pizza!

Photo: Dingo
Photo: Dingo

Dingo chomping down on some great pizza and drinking an Ale 8! Photo: Melissa
Dingo chomping down on some great pizza and drinking an Ale 8! Photo: Melissa
This was a fantastic trip!  I cannot wait to go back and explore all the other places we couldn’t fit into a long weekend!

Next up:  Canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park Ontario, Canada!!!!

Until my next adventure post….

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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