Saturday, February 14, 2015

Auxier Ridge and Double Arch

Once again, we had perfect weather for a long hike at the Red River Gorge last Saturday.  This time our friends led us on the Auxier Ridge to Double Arch trail, which was 7.68 miles long.  The photo above is the first spectacular view of the cliffs on Auxier Ridge, and you can see the trail that follows the top of the cliff line.  This may be my favorite trail so far.  

I love trails that include both views from high places and stream side hiking in the valley bottom.  I spend time working in streams in all types of habitat, and it is a pleasure to be near a stream that is not polluted. The trails in general are in great shape in the Gorge.  I never see garbage left lying around from other hikers.  

Can you see the blue sky showing from inside Double Arch through the trees? 

We were able to walk into the arch, and see how there are trees growing above the opening. My understanding is that the arches in the Red River Gorge were formed when fractures in the stone were weakened through erosion associated with drainage, and when both sides of a ridge were worn away, these week spots in the stone were exposed to more weathering.  

We settled in for lunch at Double Arch.  When I showed Jamie this photo, of him eating trail mix under the arch, he said it looks more dangerous than he felt it was at the time.  People fall in the Gorge every year, so the danger is very real.  

Because there were other hikers enjoying the view from underneath the arch, we climbed some stairs carved in the rock and found a perch above the arch to enjoy our lunch.  It felt like being on top of the world.  I shared some of my home made protein bars, and we all needed lots of water to wash them down, since they are very dense and dry.  Brandon said it was a choking hazard to walk while chewing them.  It may be time to try another recipe, huh? 

When we continued our hike, another arch in the stone above the trail was glowing as the sun shone through the opening.  It was beautiful, and made me wish I was a better photographer.  

I wasn't concerned about falling icicles during this hike, unlike our last hike, so of course Jamie managed to stand under some ice as it fell, and got pelted with ice chunks.  Luckily he wasn't hurt, but we all got to yell "LOOK OUT" and squeal when we saw and heard the ice tumbling from the cliff line above. 

We stopped by another arch called Star Gap, and we got to scramble down some rocks on the way.  

Poor Puck was left at home, since he's too out of shape for his bad hips to handle such a long and rough trail, and we're too out of shape to carry him when he gives out, but our friends dog Lionel didn't miss a single thing.  Lionel hiked every step, and clambered over every rock with no problems.  He looks quite dashing in the sunlight, too.  

From under the Star Gap arch, we could see a spherical hole in the stone, like a round rock was dislodged, but couldn't find the missing stone ball.  

Although the distance we hiked was similar to the hike to Cloud Splitter, from a few weeks ago, we hiked this trial faster, and were also less exhausted at the end.  I would like to think that my hiking skills have improved, but I think the reality is that this trail was slightly easier to hike.  It wasn't so easy that I wasn't famished though, and we were all more than ready for a dark beer and spicy hot dog at Sky Bridge Station.  Oh man!  Beer and food is such a great thing after a hike!  We had a great time recounting our adventure and playing darts.  I'm already looking forward to our next hike.  

Because the women's rest room was occupied, I braved the men's room at the bar and laughed when I saw this sign.  I've never seen a bathroom sign more likely to encourage men to wash their hands!

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