Wednesday, November 2, 2016

High Country Extended High

The kids stayed home.  Mandy drove and we chatted about the election, our respective days at work, and life in general as we made our way to Hatton Ridge for a run out to Blackburn at sunset.  The gates are open only a short period of time each year and right now--before gun season--is really the best time to take advantage of deeper access to Spaas Creek and the Rim.

Of course the fall colors are somewhat dull.  And I had misjudged how long it would take to get out to Blackburn, so as we approached the overlook we could see the sun touching the horizon over Short Creek through the skeletal trees.  I feared we had missed optimal light.

We lingered close to an hour and I snapped a few shots.  We enjoyed the "unnatural" peace and quiet.  Even for Blackburn the evening was still.  There were no four-wheelers running up and down Spaas Creek below.  No one was target shooting further down the valley.  I had run off the Dog People earlier so there was no barking.  More and more I see that place as a refuge of serenity.


It was nice just hanging with my favorite person.  Originally I had wanted to get some night photos as well, but the kids had stayed home alone so I felt a slight urgency to get back home.  That and it was going to be a dark if still somewhat short hike back to the Jeep.  I remembered headlamps, but we've. It spent much time in the out of doors at night of late.  Bears!!!  Anyway, we hiked out and drove home and the kids had not killed each other which was a bonus.

On Saturday I got up early and loitered around the house eating breakfast and drinking coffee before setting out in a short road bike ride from home.  It had been a long time (since June actually) and I had been itching to get out on skinny tires for a long time.  It was a good ride.  It was cool but not too cool.  The colors under the canopy of trees lining the roads were stunning in the midmorning light.  I don't know why I haven't been doing more of that.
Tharp Ridge

Paint Creek
I rode a loop, heading first along the river to Clay City.  I turned off on Pompeii (pom-pee) Road which sports a nice, short, steep climb.  The house I lived in when I went to Clay City Elementary sits at the top.  I was disheartened to see a Trump/Pence sign in the yard.  I resisted the urge to yank it up.  And the next half dozen I saw on my ride...

From that first hill there are continuous rollers past Beech Fork Reservoir, over Tharp Ridge and onto Paint Creek.  On the far side of Tharp Ridge the ride levels out and traverses the toe of a low slope overlooking bottomland farms along the Red River.  Crossing Tharp always puts me into a daydream of how that ridge needs to be a county park with trails overlooking the reservoir.  But the short Paint Creek part of the ride is incredibly enjoyable and I wish it continued for ten miles.  If you cross KY 213 and keep following the river the road (North Fork) eventually resumes the character of Paint Creek, but there's a long gap to span. 

Instead I turned south on 213 and rode the short, high speed, high traffic section of road into town.  It wasn't terrible on a Saturday morning, but I never enjoy that part of any ride.  If not for the maniacs behind the wheel it would be terribly nice.  Instead it's just terrible.

I tried to be productive at home but a quick trip to the hardware store turned into a catching up and ride scheming session with Jeaph.  I told him about my recent adventures and he told me about his mountain biking trip to Moab.  I'll let that hang there.

Anyway, my intended project for the day was to build a new chicken run for our flock to give them more protected space outside the coop.  I managed two fence posts in the unnaturally warm sunlight of late October.

That evening we took Boone to Lexington for a Halloween party, Bean spent the night with Mamaw, and Mandy and I took ourselves out to dinner at Masala where I ate my weight in chicken curry and naan bread.  I stopped just shy of the wafer thin mint.

Ever since my ride out the Rim on Friday afternoon I had been obsessed with a pencil thin black line I had seen at a distance on umber colored rock through the turning leaves near Wild Country.  Splitter hand crack?  Finger crack?  Fist crack?  I couldn't tell from the bike saddle.

Mandy kicked me out of the house Sunday afternoon (really not really) so I loaded up the crash pad and Bean's bike and we headed for Wild Country Wall.

I opted to drive over Pumpkin Hollow to try and shave off some time.  Ha!  But it was fun following the DBBB for a bit and seeing more of the backwoods as the leaves continue to change.

We arrived at Wild Country and Bean was nearing a comatose state of boredom.  But once out under the sun she ran into the woods and started climbing around on rocks.  I checked out the crack I’d seen and was impressed but intimidated.  I think it’ll go, but I’m nowhere near ready to try leading it.

Wild Country Wall proper


There are some boulders below the main wall and we walked through them and didn’t see anything worth dragging the pad up for.  Then we checked out the wall and I got a couple of pics.  A hike along the cliffline yielded more stunningly colored rock but nothing that looked climbable.  Truly, the Wild Country slab proper is the only decent rock in the area.

Finally we conceded defeat and without having climbed anything headed back home.  It was a good afternoon hanging out with Bean and enjoying the autumn ambiance.

I’ve already been daydreaming about going back out to the Rim to explore a little more and to ride.  Blackburn and its serene promontory calls.  Basically I just want to enjoy life a little more and stop caring so much about trying to change the world.  While I’d love to have more singletrack to ride what I’d love more is to just ride.

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