Why I love the Red River Gorge

November 1, 2009

Karine on Head and Shoulders
     Ok, the climbing is awesome and I could go on about
that, but really, what I love about the Red River Gorge is the collection of
talent that migrates there every season. Sometimes I meet new people,
sometimes I meet familiar faces, but this year I feel blessed to have been
surrounded by an awesome community of people I would call friends.

     Somethings never change here at The Red, but for me,
some things did. For instance, this was the first year I didn't stay at Lago
Lindas. I was fortunate to be welcome at the new home of Keith and Andy's by
way of my friendship with Lauren. This worked out really well for a few
reasons. One, these guys are awesome and it's been great fun to hang with
them. Two, Lauren was an odd person out so my traveling solo meant we could
climb together. And, three, they have reliable internet (that allows me to
blog at 3 in the morning from a warm bed). Working from the road means
reliable internet and safe keeping of company assets. Both of these were
well met and with The Red in my backyard, it was easy to skip out to climb a
few pitches before work.

     Rocktoberfest was smaller this year, but it still drew
in a large crowd. The weather has been generally rainy and therefore not
overly pleasent but aside from the muddy entrance to the grounds, the venue
and climbing were dry. I did the 'Climb Like a Girl' clinic, which went over
really well. I had a group of novice to intro climbers and took them to
The Shire. It was good fun. With the crisp temperatures, my only wish
would have been that the crag would have been sunnier to keep us a little
warmer. Fortunately, Margarita, who was helping me with the clinic, had hand
warmers that many appreciated. ps. my guide, Dan, was awesome. A big thanks to Red River Outdoors and Josephine for pulling this together so well.

     After Rocktoberfest, some friends from Montreal came
down and climbed for a week. Mike was still here and the weather turned
really damp and cool. Still, I went out climbing and had some great days!
Anytime you are traveling for such a short time, you'll climb in any type of
weather! It helped that my friends, Melissa and Karine were both psyched
despite each of them having caught a cold on the drive down. 🙂

      In the theme of things new this year, Melissa
introduced me to a new diner that serves authentic Kentucky style biscuits
and gravy. You can get a whole breakfast for $3! I don't recall the name but
if you drive into Stanton, take the road toward Kroger and veer left before
coming to any lights (it's literally just off the freeway). It's a small,
white building on the left.

     Just the day they were leaving, a new set of Canadians
arrived. The weather was still sour but fortunately we had dry quarters to
wait it out. We even got to use the hot tub one night!

     After transitioning out and leaving The Red for a bit,
I found myself desperate to go back. I didn't want to wait another year to
come and experience the place. 1 week of climbing just wasn't enough to get
a real taste and leave satisfied.

     Returning to The Red meant commiting to working
remotely (no more vacation days) and that meant reliable work resources. A
relatively inexpensive ticket took me back to Louisville and a cheap motel
gave me a solid work day to start the trip. Initially, I had no
transportation down to Lexington, I didn't want to rent a car, but I needed
to be sure I could get to internet when I needed to be there so I sucked up
the cost, but rented from LEX since I would be departing from there on my
return flight.  Just when I thought everything was against me and my
decision was probably not the right one (to come back), I find that Regan is
in Louisville picking up a mutual friend at the airport that night. I still
get my work day and I get a ride into Lexington to pick up my
rental car! I took it as a sign I was meant to come back. 🙂

     Unfortunately, even after having gotten some fitness to
climb at the Red the previous week, the time off set me back. My first week
I climbed only 3 days and it was difficult to get in a lot of pitches. I was
flustered but reminded myself that I was still at the Red and hanging with
awesome people. Truly, what more mattered?

     With my return meant the celebration of my birthday and
Halloween here in the Red. Team Canada offered to make me dinner and I
graciously accepted. Dinner was really tasty and meeting Carlo really was a
treat. Having been gone the weekend prior, I missed out on celebrating
Vikki's 21st birthday. Carlo had a huge presence that day and she insisted I
be introduced. After dinner in the pavilion, we went down to the cabin
housing the other half of Team Canada and enjoyed a tasty ice cream cake. 
To stay with the theme from a few year's ago (see 2007 blog post to find JJ
and Marshal's 'Dominator' themed cake), the gang requested 'Destroy' be
written on the cake. Apparently, the guy doing the writing in Beattyville
was psyched to write such a word and set about happily doing so.  When
I got the cake and read it, I laughed at the word, but then Vikki pressed to
look closer and re-read the writing. Instead of 'Destroy'
the guy had written 'Destory.' Ah, Kentucky! 🙂

     Halloween came and so did the rain and cold.
Fortunately, it was a rest day so everyone went into town. Some went to the
horse races others went to see 'Where the Wild Things Are.'  Having
gone to a horse race before, I opted for the movie, which btw, I didn't
think was that great…it was ok, but mostly sad, dark and scary (esp. if I
were a kid watching it!).

     While in town, I discovered (via Marc's curiosity) a
really good Nutrition store just next to the laundromat where I launder my
clothes in Richmond. if Kroger doesn't have what you are looking for, stop
here. Chances are, they will (have it).  It's on the 421 heading in the
opposite direction of the Kroger (so take the right instead of the left at
that interchage, heading toward I75).

     Another pleasent surprise here at the Red was the
arrival of some friends I had come to know from Smith Rocks through Mike.
Every year Alaska Bruce comes down to the Red and this year was no
exception. In fact, I'd been wondering if he made it down until I heard his
voice in the other room this morning. Two other pleasent surprises were
running into Kristen and Ian at the Motherlode one morning. It truly feels
like a meeting of friends at the Red this year. How can anyone have anything
but a good time under these circumstances?

     My time is running out, life outside of the Red will
resume shortly. Meanwhile, I savor the quiet, the crickets, the dogs howling
at the full moon, the lack of traffic, the lack of any cars sometimes, the
peaceful naivete that exists in these parts, the autumn leaves, the smell of
a good autumn evening, and most of all, the many smiling faces I enjoy
seeing when I am here. Thank you to everyone for being a part of my
experience–all of it, everyone, will be missed!


About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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