Location: Gladie Creek Red River Gorge, KY
Duration: One night
Date: June 2017
Weekends in the Red River Gorge in the summer can be very busy. I don’t like to complain too much about wilderness areas being crowded because that means there are a bunch of people out enjoying nature. As long as we are all respectful to nature and our fellow humans, we can all share these beautiful forests. Regardless, we do like to have some privacy and not be worried about bothering other campers.
So where do you go when it is crowded and hot? Our answer was to hike one of the less popular creeks and hope to find a campsite along it. There is also a very poorly maintained and generally crappy trail along the creek, but we found it easier at times to just stroll through the creek. This also kept us cool. Despite the roads being very crowded in the Gorge, we only heard some dudes splashing in the river from a distance. Turns out this is not a popular area, and I’m not surprised because the trail SUCKS. This (not much of a) plan ended up suiting us perfectly.
Hiking through the creek is a much slower process than on a well groomed trail. My Cascade Trekking Poles helped a lot. Not only are they great for balance, but you can also use them to test how deep a creek is or how stable or slippery a walk you are about to step on is. I always thought trekking poles were a silly luxury item, but a couple years ago I strained my back so badly in the backcountry, I could barely step up or down. Luckily, my friend let me borrow her walking stick. I got trekking poles shortly after that trip. Trekking poles range in price and quality. Some companies like Leki have lifetime warranties. I opted for the economical (~$20), but still functional Cascade Quick Lock trekking poles since I wasn’t sure how much I was going to use them and I’ve mainly been doing shorter trips lately. If I were going to do a more intense 1-2 week trip, I may consider getting higher quality trekking poles. For now, the Cascades work great.
We strolled through the creek until the sun started going down, though we probably didn’t go a very far distance (probably less than a mile), doubled back, and spotted a great campsite. It was shaded, flat, and the creek was about waist deep. We made it our home for the night, and didn’t hear a single human. We did hear frogs and screech owls and we got to enjoy a nice light show from the fireflies.
Somebody loves this place because there was a clothesline, cast iron grill grate, a large frying pan, and multiple fire pits. We chose the fire pit with the best view of the creek, used the grate to cook our dinner, and left the rest alone. The evening was the typical mix of chatting, dancing, and wandering around to get firewood. It was so hot that we jumped in the creek in the middle of the night to cool off and dried ourselves by the fire.
The next day was a slow mosey back down the creek, stopping when we felt like it to splash around or look at the beautiful surroundings. This elderberry bush caught my eye and as I was going to get my camera, I heard some rustling and spotted a cute little whitetail deer chasing butterflies around. Tarzan had gone off somewhere else so this deer and I had a moment. Sitting quietly alone in the middle of the wilderness gives me the most amazing feeling, which I don’t know how to describe…a mixture of excitement and complete relaxation at the same time.
This trip reminded me 1) You don’t have to have a jam packed itinerary or an exact plan on which trails you are going to hike and where you are going to camp to have an enjoyable trip and 2) don’t postpone a camping trip because you think the circumstances (weather, traffic, etc) will not be ideal. There is always a way to have a nice night in the backcountry.
Breakfast Scramble: This is a ridiculous thing to do in the backcountry, but we do it anyway. We even did steak and eggs once. Get yourself an egg holder, pack whatever you like in your scramble (veggies, cheese, & spam is my go-to). Cook it up in a skillet. Put it in a tortilla for easy eating.