The Dog Slaughter Falls trail consistently ranks among the top trails in Kentucky. On our last trip to Cumberland Falls, we tried to reach Dog Slaughter from the Visitors Center – about 5 miles each way. The mid-June 90º weather was not on our side and we gave up about halfway in favor of the watermelon in the cooler and a trip to the pool.
This time, we approached from Forest Service Road 195, a thoroughly rutted and pot-holed dirt road off of KY-90. The first trailhead is .8 miles down the road, but I strongly suggest continuing another 2 miles to the second trailhead. From there, the falls are a little under 1.5 miles. Continue reading “Dog Slaughter Falls”→
Sunday at Lake Vesuvius promised to see summer out in full force. As soon as we woke, the heat and humidity were oppressive. We quickly decided it would be a relaxing day – no long hike. We spent a little time driving around the region and then did one of the short hikes.
The Rock House Trail is only .42 miles long. It is paved and wheelchair accessible, at least in theory – roots have made much of the pavement rather rutted. Continue reading “Rock House Trail”→
Labor Day may mark the end of the official summer season, but our trek around Lake Vesuvius was our sweatiest and most miserable exploration of the summer. Fortunately, we had amazing views and spectacular wildflowers to distract us. On more than one occasion, I leaned into the humidity, lush plant-life, and the cacophony of birds and insects and pretended I was on a jungle exploration. Fortunately, the weather was made manageable by the knowledge we would have a cold shower and air conditioning before bed.
We ended up at Lake Vesuvius because the Iron Ridge Campground had availability a month before Labor Day. The 8.25 miles of the Lakeshore Trail beckoned as a perfect way to enjoy our first day in Wayne National Forest. We set off from the boat ramp parking lot from which the Rock House Trail also departed. We were fortunate to encounter an employee at Kountry Kayak, the boat concessionaire, who offered a fantastic map of the hiking trails in Wayne National Forest. I had studied this map enough at home to be confident of finding our way by following the lake, but this was a waterproof version that covered lots of trails and will be a great addition to our map collection. Continue reading “Lake Vesuvius Lakeshore Trail”→
Sadly, my plan to sleep in this morning didn’t work out. I
woke at 4:30am to see the refrigerator was displaying two glowing lights,
indicating it needed to be reset. I got up to do so, only to realize the fridge
was fine. My eyes were just extremely bleary. At that point I was pretty awake,
so I read in bed and dozed on and off. Eventually, Ted had pity on me and made
a delicious hash with last night’s leftover steak and potatoes.
We did have a relatively lazy start to our morning. We slowly
got everything cleaned up and ran the generator. Finally we headed out for our
hike. My cell didn’t want to load the maps so we wandered into town, looking
for better service. Eventually, I realized my phone was loading too many things
after such limited service and we got our proper headings. While we were in
town, we might as well get some stamps and send out our postcards.
This morning Blue entertained herself by chewing on the wall
instead of waking us up right away. Fortunately, I was in the process of waking
up, heard something not quite right, and caught her before she did much damage.
We had a full day planned and wanted to get an early start anyway, so we got up, grabbed a yogurt and headed out for our hike. Unfortunately, this hike was 40 minutes away, right off I-70, so we backtracked over roads we covered yesterday. However, the drive went quickly and soon we were on the gravel road that leads to Shrine Pass. The road was rough and rutted, even by Colorado standards. Our gratitude that we didn’t attempt the road with the trailer was tempered by regret that we didn’t get to try dispersed camping this trip. Maybe another time. We made a pit stop for birding and then backtracked to the rest area for an actual pit stop. Blue was particularly hyper as we climbed the road and managed to wiggle her way into the front seat.
Blue let us sleep until 6am today. Even so, we were slow to get moving. It was in the 40s and I discovered a plastic baggie overflowed from a drawer onto the heater, so we hesitated to run it for long. Ted took Blue for a quick walk and we got ready to go look for animals. A quick trip southwest was fruitless. A bit past the campground, I spotted a female moose, but Ted then realized he left his phone back at the camper. So we made detour to the campground. I needed to register for another night anyway, so we killed two birds. Continue reading “Monarch Lake”→
Last night wrapped up with Ted befriending our neighbor Emmanuel, a single dad out with his girls for the first time. We invited him to share our campfire after their bedtime and therefore stayed up a little later than intended. Blue didn’t seem to care and got us up at 5am again. Ted put her back outside, but I was awake enough to read and doze rather than fall deep asleep.
Since we didn’t have reservations for the night, we were eager to get backed up and claim our first-come-first-served campsite. We finally packed everything up as fog oozed over the mountain ridge, layering us and our things with a glistening of water. We said goodbye to Hermit Park around 8:30am. We were sad to leave, but ready to explore another area.
The only way to the other side of the park is via Thunder Ridge Road. This 40 mile stretch of paved highway doubles back on itself again and again, climbing to over 12,000 feet. Few guardrails separate the road from 90 degree drop offs. It requires a confident driver, especially if you are towing 5000 pounds of trailer behind you. Ted wove uphill expertly. He paced with all of the SUVs, vans, and sedans. Downhill was another story. It was our first extended downhill grade and it took about half of the trip of looking in the manual to figure out how to use the transmission to slow us down. We think Blue might have been greatly distressed by the pressure in her ears and I worked on giving her chewy treats and trying to trigger yawns in her by yawning myself. Continue reading “Over the pass”→