Images from STA Challenge Hike 5

Team Heron – May 6 & 7, 2023

By Stephen D. Bowling

The weekend was very challenging. Hot temperatures and very dry conditions made the 2023 STA Hiker Challenge Hike 5 very difficult. The weathermen waffled all week. It would drain, and it would be cooler they said. Then about Thursday, they changed their minds. The forecast high for Saturday was supposed to be about 72- it reached 84 on the trail. The rain that was supposed to cool things down Saturday afternoon- waiting until the end of the day on Sunday before it opened up. Lesson One- don’t trust the weathermen.

The May hike was a long (35 miles) trek through some difficult terrain. Don’t be worried- you can handle it. Be aware and be prepared. The hike begins with an uphill climb from the Red Barn to the ridge. With several small ups and downs, you make your way over the hill to Richardson Road. Then back up the hill and basically undulating ridge walk to Furnace Arch and then more of the same until the trail drops over Mount Misery and down to Clear Creek. There is no available water in this 8.5-mile stretch. Be sure to camel up with Steve or from Clear Creek as the next section is dry too. There are a few downed trees in this first section but nothing major.

From Clear Creek, the trail climbs up through a very nice valley to the ridge top. The next 11.3 miles of trail are a mix of a long ridge top run and undulating trips in and out of four thousand small coves along Cave Run Lake. This section is also dry despite the marked water sources on Far Out. The area is still in a moderate drought, and no significant rain has fallen in the past week (despite that that soaked hikers last Sunday) to improve water levels. Use your water wisely. There are several nice lake views, and the trail passes very close to the water’s edge. Be aware that there are no access points to the lake for water due to steep, rocky cliff lines. Take your time and hike smart.

The camp area is very nice; however, most hikers went straight to sleep after a long and tiring day.

Sunday dawned with a beautiful sunrise as hikers got up and going early to attempt to outrun the threat of rain and the possibility of strong storms. Cross the dam and up the hill to the ridge top. On the way over to Amburgey Rock, the trail is tough but nice. There are several more downed trees in this section, so be prepared to climb over these large oaks. The trail follows an old forest service road past several bike trails and around the side of Limbstone Knob before heading down into Mill Creek for a long asphalt walk to Clearfield and Morehead. Lightening, ominous dark clouds, and thunder helped quicken the pace of many Heron hikers. Ultimately, most proved unable to outrun the deluge of rain and wind that the late morning/early afternoon storms brought.

Here are a few images from that hike:

Team Heron on May 6-7- 6:30 shuttle
Team Heron on May 6-7- 8:00 a.m. shuttle.

Lesson Two from Heron: Be prepared for this section. It is long and challenging. It is dry and the proper conservation and use of water is a must. Filter every time you can find enough water. You will need it. It was a great hike, and it was a challenge. Enjoy the beautiful scenery- the views of the lake, the ridgetop walks, and certainly Furnace Arch. Most importantly, enjoy the people you have the opportunity to meet and hike with as we complete this “little walk in the woods.”

Next month, we walk through Morehead and make it to the northern terminus before we turn around and start again in the middle- this time headed South.

© 2023 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Hiker Challenge, Hiking, Hiking the Red River, Red River Gorge, Sheltowee National Recreation Trail and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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