Road trip to the Red
Faye and I returned this past Sunday from our road trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. It gave us our first taste of what life on the road is going to be like. We made the drive down with our friends Tim and Ashley, and it took us about sixteen hours overnight. When we pulled into Miguel’s at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon we were all zombies. We wanted to be able to enjoy some of the beautiful weather, but were all too spent to head to the crag. So instead we just hung out, set up our tents, and grabbed some delicious pizza. After dinner, as we were sitting at one of the picnic tables my friend Devon came up to us. He had been there for about a month and was enjoying the dirtbag lifestyle. He ended up being a great resource while we there. He helped us find some great areas to climb, and gave us some insight into living cheaply on the road.
Monday started out a little overcast, but quickly the sun came out and burned off any clouds still hanging around. We headed over to the Practice Wall in Muir Valley, which gave us all the opportunity to jump on some easier, shorter routes to warm up. Tim finished Beta Spewer, a 5.10b route that was right up his alley. It had big, bouldery moves throughout. Unfortunately, it spewed me right off. Seeing as it was day one, and my goal for the entire trip was to lead a 5.10b, I wasn’t too bummed out. Besides Beta Spewer, the climbs on this wall weren’t all that memorable.
After Practice Wall we all went back to Miguel’s to rest for a bit before running out to Roadside for a couple of routes. After the short Practice Wall, Roadside left us exhausted. We each climbed two 5.7’s with tough starts and called it a day.
On Tuesday we got more decent weather and stayed in Muir Valley, heading to the Bruise Brothers wall. This was a cool wall, with a bunch of great, moderate routes. I’d love to go back so that I could repeat a couple of lines, and hit some of the ones that I missed. There was a really nice 5.7 called The Offering which headed out right, over an exposed face. I climbed a recently bolted dihedral called Sweet Jane (5.8-) that I enjoyed. One of the routes I’d like to repeat is Flutterby Blue. It’s a 5.9 with a really tough, reachy start that moved into big moves up an arête. My height allowed me to make the first moves and complete it on my flash attempt. I also completed my goal of leading a 5.10b, on the route Little Viper.
On Wednesday the weather didn’t look so great, so we decided to take a rest day. We headed into Lexington to visit a couple of gear shops. I picked up a pair of new shoes, which I really enjoy. I ended up getting the Five Ten x5. They’re like a moccasin, but have a zipper and a velcro strap across the top. They are much more comfortable than my Miuras, but I’m definitely giving up some of the stiffness and performance. I’ll probably still use the Miuras for bouldering, and the x5 for sport routes.
When we got back from Lexington, the weather had cleared up and we went to the Natural Bridge State Park. We ended up going for about a three mile hike in our flip-flops. The Natural Bridge was very cool. We also saw Balance Rock and had a great view of Miguel’s and the valley from Lover’s Leap.
Thursday brought on more good weather and great climbing. Devon brought us to the Shire Wall, in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve. It had a very cool set of 5.7, 5.8, and 5.9 climbs all in a row. The 5.9 was Miranda Rain which was a terrific route, long and pumpy. I onsighted a slabby 5.10a around the corner named Bulldozer which was enjoyable. I also lead my first 5.10d, which was a very cool looking line named KSB. Then we headed over to Left Field. Faye fought her fear of leading and looked solid on Lowered Expectations (5.5). I made my first trad climb on a route that wasn’t in the guidebook, but was very easy. From there we walked to Volunteer wall where I ended the day with the very mellow and enjoyable First Time (5.8+).
Our last day there was a rainy Saturday. We ended up meeting a very cool kid from Georgia named Parker who came out with us, as we returned for the third time to Muir Valley. We though that Techtonic and Johnny’s wall would have some good stuff that would have stayed dry. Johnny’s Wall had a large group on it, so we climbed the two classics on Techtonic, Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky (5.10b) and Plate Techtonics (5.10a). They were both pretty wet still, so they were a little harder and less enjoyable than they would have normally been. I’d love to hit those two again on a nice, sunny day. Then we went over to the Great Wall. We climbed this soaking wet 5.7, which miserable. All of the bolts were dry, but where you actually climbed just had water spraying off of it. Tim liked it for some reason. But Faye, Ashley and me all agreed that it was no fun. Parker lead the mixed climb Little T-Bone (5.9) which ended up being one of my favorite on the day. Probably because it was completely dry and had these really cool plates starting about halfway up. I ended the day, and the trip with my first 5.11a. Momma Cindy was a really cool route with a tough, bouldery start, and then technical, sustained climbing the rest of the way up. I wanted to quit, but Faye wouldn’t let me, and i was really glad that she didn’t.
Overall it was an amazing trip. It made me really excited for our upcoming two months of road tripping and climbing out west. And I’d love to make it back to the Red sometime in the fall. I’m thinking it would be perfect to head down in October for my birthday 😉