THREE WEEKS AGO today, Andy and Andy, and I woke up just outside of Red River Gorge. They’d been telling me about it for days, and I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to eat at Miguel’s, observe the climbers camp surrounding the restaurant, and climb our route there. I was so excited to rock climb when the weather was warm, sunny, and dry!
After a quick 10 mile ride into the gorge, we were at our route. This one was the easiest to find, as it was close to the road. “Road Side Attraction,” is a classic 120 ft trad route. It was relatively close to the road, but not as close as one might imagine. The hike in would have been a breeze, but we brought our bikes with so that we’d be able to take a few pictures with them near the wall. I think that might’ve been my idea, but I immediately regretted it. Oops!
Andy and Andy don’t normally smoke cigarettes in excess, but that day they did. Luckily for me, too, because Burr gave me a pretty good lesson on hand jamming during this one. Goodbye to all of the skin on my knuckles! Goodbye to their cleanish lungs!
I made it up the route alive. Back down too! I had to rely on the rope heavily, but I made it up. The guys were super supportive, and on more than one occasion, I only made it past a problem because they willed it. And maybe they pulled on the rope a little. My hand jams need practice, but I didn’t do too bad!
When finished rock climbing, we did the normal photo session and pack job. Then, we got on our bikes and rode down to Miguel’s Pizza. It’s down in the gorge, and in a large way, has helped the climbing culture of the gorge grow over time.
The whole experience was made more ridiculous when we walked in to order pizza. “Chasteen!” one of the employees welcomed. Chasty puts on a well known climbing event (https://www.twofourhell.com/) in Arkansas, where the employee had participated for the past six years. I’ve known Chasty for a few years now, but only in the cycling community, so it was really cool to see him function in the climbing community too. We chatted for a few minutes, ordered pizzas, and I plugged in my electronics. Based on what the guys were saying, I might need them.
Over lunch, we figured out a lot of the logistics for the remainder of our trip. Both of them had flights to catch first thing Tuesday morning (it was Sunday), only about 150 miles away, in Charleston, WV. I had planned to catch a bus from there back to St. Louis. Now that it was looking like they’d be hitchhiking the rest of the way, it didn’t make sense for me to hitchhike 150 miles in the wrong direction. Consulting the map, I decided to ride my bike to Lexington, KY.
After a whirlwind of phone calls, googling, and pacing back and forth, I had a plan. When I told Hannah my plan to ride to Lexington, crash for the night, then take the first bus home, she came up with a better idea. She offered to get in the car to pick me up. That way, I’d be home that night (after a short four hours of riding and a five hour car ride)!
Even though it’s been three weeks since the trip has ended, I still feel sad about how abruptly the three of us had to say goodbye. There was no really closure for the trip. We had lunch, then had to go in separate directions. We were all a little stressed about figuring out those final details, so it just didn’t feel like a proper goodbye. I guess we’ll just have to do another one!
Any suggestions for future trips?
The final sunset was beautiful. It was by far the most colorful the sky had been during the entire trip. I was racing the clock, so I did my best to capture it with an interesting composition.
Huge thanks to Andy and Andy for the invite, “planning” the route, teaching me a little about rock climbing, and for an excellent week! #cowtails
All words and images ©Adam Koble
P.S. In class you’re wondering, the guys ended up hitch hiking to Guest River Gorge, where they climbed the last route. They made their flights, and they are back to normal life, functioning as normal members of society.