After one week in Slade, Kentucky rock climbing at the Red River Gorge I feel like life on the road never stopped. My days here began with good friends from Eastern Pennsylvania working challenging overhung routes in magnificent amphitheaters. Every night we shared delicious meals and good cheer creating memories to last a lifetime. Driving the country roads through the rolling hills of Appalachia, I search for glimpses of the endless cliff sides through the brightly colored autumn leaves. Warm days and crisp nights have provided some wonderful afternoons on five-star climbs, sending projects, and exploring areas that only few have been. One of my favorite moments was riding back to camp in the bed of the pickup truck with all the gear, ascending the ridge-line, watching the sun come back into view. Golden yellow rays warmed the landscape and my face as the brisk air whipped around my body.
The population in Slade is sparse outside of the climbing community, so I was extremely surprised to walk into the new Rockhouse Restaurant to find my dear friends’ artwork hanging on the wall. The owner, a lifetime climber, had purchased two Brainstorm Design prints at the Renegade Art Festival in Chicago. Our local travels to different walls take us past old business ventures fallen short of success, abandoned go cart tracks overgrown with grass, trailers in parks and in the woods, dogs barking at fences and many, many tiny oil drills. Every trip through an old train tunnel seems to send us back in time, with unfinished walls it looks like a mine, approximately 200-yards long and still self-regulated. When originally constructed the first train to travel through it had gotten stuck, the tunnel had to be raised an additional four inches since the engineer did not account for the height of the tracks!
The changing weather has brought a few cold nights and rainy days. Currently there is no retreat from the dampness in the valley, the rain penetrates our lives. I awoke yesterday to a moderate-sized reservoir which formed beneath my tent in the night, my friend’s waterproof shoes seem to have been falsely advertised, but we seized an abandoned tarp for our kitchen shelter. Luckily the weather is supposed to turn later today, providing three more days of southeastern sandstone climbing before we depart for the western divide.