Kentucky and West Virginia
Saturday 17 November
My plan for my week off over thanksgiving basically consisted of a few days walking in the New River Gorge in West Virginia before heading to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky to climb with some friends. The week started with driving to Trappers Camp where I'd climbed the weekend before to meet up with friends for a days climbing. I drove there by myself as I'd be startuing the drive to the New River Gorge afterwards. A fun day was had climbing in the sun which, for me, included leading a nice 5.7 trad route. After climbing we headed for Mexican food before I left the others and drove for about five hours to a motel.
Sunday 18 November
Kentucky Horse Park
Next day I continued to drive towards the New River Gorge. The plan was to stop at the Kentucky Horse Park but I ended up there rather later than I was expecting due to a few fruitless attempts to but a Red River Gorge climbing guide. This turned out reasonably well as it meant that I got in cheaper and as it turns out there wasn't that much to do in winter and I managed to see most things there were to see. Unfortunately there weren't actually that many horses there but the museum was reasonably cool and it was nice to see the horses that were there. Once I'd left the Horse Park I continued to drive towards the New River Gorge where I arrived about 11, set up camp and went to bed.
Monday 19 November
Sandstone Falls and Grandview
Next morning I was up much, much later than I was expecting. This was partly due to being very tired the day before but also partly due to it being overcast and so I thought it was early than it was as there was no sunshine. Once I was up I headed to a visitor centre and the Sandstone Falls. Although these weren't very high they were quite wide and were quite attractive. I then went for a couple of mile walk which was a nice walk but really not that exciting. As it was getting dark I arrived at Grandview and despite the growing darkness I still got some nice views of the New River Gorge.
Tuesday 20 November
Lansing and Nuttalburg Headhouse
Next day I headed toward the New River Bridge near Lansing, one of the biggest such bridges in the world. It was quite impressive and there were also some good views from the nearby visitors centre. I then went and explored Nuttalburg mine. I first parked above the mine and my plan was to walk down to the headhouse explore there and then continue down to the river where the coal was loaded and the associated village located. There were a few downed trees on the way to the headhouse but I got to the headhouse and other old buildings which were fun to explore. Trying to get down the hill I soon realised that the path was unpassable due to downed trees and a rock slide, pressumably due to Sandy, so I went back to my car and drove down.
Nuttalburg and Endless Wall Trail
I then spent a couple of hours exploring the old buildings down by the river. The coal conveyor was pretty cool even if it was a bit of an eye-sore in such an attractive area. After that I headed to the Endlass Wall Trail which run along the top of some cliffs where there was climbing. Saw some climbers but the climber also looke dpretty hard! On the way back to camp I drove Fayette Station Road which gave some good views of the bridge but otherwise was not too exciting. Once I was back on main roads I noticed the car's temperature was starting to rise. Realising I had a problem I pulled over and foudn out I had virtually no coolant left. A call to the AAA, a stay in a hotel and a morning waiting for it to be repaired and I was back on the road. Turned out that the plastic coolant header tank had cracked. Oh well at least it got repaired quickly and reasonably cheaply.
Wednesday 21 November
Obviously my plans for the next day were a bit curtailed but I still did most of what I wanted to do. I went to Thrumond, an old town by the railroad tracks which was cool to have a brief wander around. The railroad is still in use, and indeed there is an Amtrak station there, but the town itself is much reduced. I then went for a walk. My original plan had been to walk along the river for a bit but due to the car repairs I only had time to get down to the river before I had to turn round. Was still a nice walk and other than getting less exercise I don't think I missed out on much. Highlight of the walk was definitely seeing where a rock slide had landed on the old railway tracks. Walk done I drove to the Red River Gorge where I arrived about midnight and went to sleep.
Thursday 22 November
Bruise Brothers Wall
Thanksgiving morning I met up with the others and we headed to Bruise Brothers Wall in the Muir valley. Was climbing in just T-shirts and it was an enjoyable day even if I did get annoyed with myself for just failing to on-sight a 10c. After sitting on the rope I spotted an undercling which made the move so much easier for me even if others didn't use it all. After climbing we headed backed to the campsite for a thanksgiving meal and some beers!
Friday 23 November
Next morning was a bit rainy and after some faffing we ended up exploring Shady Grove, part of PMRP, a cool amphitheatre where all the routes were overhanging and so dry. Unfortunately this also meant they were hard. After a bit of mucking around we started to work the easiest, a 5.10d. Mary Ashley got to two bolts from the top before I led one bolt higher and got stumped. Mary Ashley then finished it before I top-roped it, badly! Managed to get the top but overhangs are clearly still not my storng point! While we'd been doing this the sun had came out so we went and did a classic 5.8 at The Gallery before heading back to a friend of a friends cabin for dinner and a couple more drinks.
Saturday 24 November
Pebble Beach and The Zoo
For various reasons it was just Mary Ashley and I that headed out to Pebble Beach the next day although we did meet some people there. It was a very cold day and we only managed four routes all day, the first couple of which I had cold-related falls on. Finished the day by climbing a pinnacle which is something I always enjoy before having a chance to take some photos of the cool scenery on the way back to camp. Thanks to the weather it wasn't exactly a classic day but was still very enjoyable. Next day we headed to The Zoo for a quick couple of routes (including onsighting a 5.10b) before the long drive home. I finally got home about 1am. All in all a good week.
Copyright Daniel Money 2012