Why they call me “Tea Cup”- Red River Gorge

So while my household is a very outdoorsy hiking family; I, myself have only been on one big hike. (Big for me anyway) I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of day hikes in my life.  Those didn’t require any major supplies or preparation—nor was I carrying a heavy pack on my back.  My Red River Gorge hike was about 2 ½ years ago and I can’t believe it took me so long to divulge all about that experience.  Better late than never?!

I told my husband that I wanted to get started hiking some small hikes and that I wanted to get set up to be able to tag along with him in the future. He obliged happily and we saved up for me to get a nice lite pack, sleep set up, and custom hammock. We planned to go to Red River Gorge which is so darn beautiful; if you’ve never been there and are looking for a gorgeous place—it definitely didn’t disappoint with its views. Whether you just go for a day or a few, the place is massive and so beautiful! Originally it was just supposed to be my hubby and I to hike at a comfortable pace for me. I had only set up my hammock once with the help of my husband. I was just learning all my gear and equipment. I was no where near readiness on my own. The purpose of the hike was so I could do a little shake down and learn how to do things for future hikes.

Now, first off let me say this hike definitely was no cake walk and if I sound like I was a little bit grumpy about the experience, I definitely was—momentarily. It didn’t stick. My husband did do a video on the whole experience which I’m glad because it really documents much of the beauty and skill level required to handle such a trek. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world even if it didn’t turn out how I expected. He thinks I hated the hike altogether. Which, I absolutely did not..it was just a rough trail to be doing for a first hike.

What made me grumpy? Originally as I said, it was supposed to be my shake down and we planned on doing it over Thanksgiving around our work schedules and that is when we went. My husband told me that his buddy Brad was thinking of coming along. No biggie, I didn’t mind. Then our cousin Chris also decided to come along. Brad and Chris are great guys and hopefully they didn’t take any of my frustrations during this hike the wrong way. So as the four of us were driving to Kentucky, the guys decided to change the hiking trail plan and wanted to tackle a trail that Dennis and Chris had been trying to complete for a long while. They called it the turkey trail. I don’t know if that’s what THEY named it, or if that is what its actually called; but it’s a trail in the shape of a turkey. They failed to complete it twice because of not being in shape the first time, wrong gear, and my husband got soaked falling into some frigid water another time during cold season so they had to cut it short.

So here the 4 of us were, on THANKSGIVING DAY aka TURKEY Day and they were all like, “Dude! We should hike the TURKEY TRAIL!” on the way up.  Already I knew at that point, it wasn’t gonna look good for me.  My husband was planning an entirely different trail for he and I, one that wasn’t as challenging and at my beginners pace.  You see where this is going?

We started from the Swift Camp Creek Trail into the Cliftys, to the Osbourne Bend Loop to the Lost Branch Trail, to the Sheltowee Trace to the road up to the Osborne Trail Head.  Somewhere in there I hiked up the Indian Staircase.  My heiney hiked over 30 miles in just a bit over 2 days.  Go me!  I didn’t do terrible.  I wasn’t as fast as the guys, but honestly there are parts of this route you just can’t go fast and it seemed like we were ALWAYS climbing or teetering on a cliff.  So I feel that I kept up just fine in that aspect.  My one regret was that I didn’t get to take in the views for as long as I would have liked to because I had to keep up with the fellas.  My goal for the hike was to just be able to take it all in, enjoy the sites, learn about my set up –and yea, my shake down. 

The Indian Staircase. Let me just tell you, OMG. People climb up and down that thing all the time like it’s nothin! It is definitely not nothin. I had a panic attack when we reached the bottom of that limestone rock, when they told me I had to climb up it. I bawled like a little baby, I was positive I was gonna die if I didn’t go back the way I came! 😂 My husband then tells me, “it’s ok baby, our boys managed to climb down this just fine!” (they would have been maybe 8-10 or so…they were LITTLE). It was at that point that I almost strangled my husband for having my babies on that death trap. 😝 I think THE MOST petrifying moment to me, was having a 25 pound pack on my back—and in the photos, from a distance it appears as if the Indian Staircase is this nice, flat, gradual little climb. Oh no it isn’t! When I was searching and reaching for the ONE nook to place my hand and the other only cranny to find my foothold, it literally felt like my backpack was pulling me backwards. It felt like if I had one wrong hand or foot placement, I was falling. So I’m hugging this damn rock for dear life. I can’t even describe the volcanic eruption of trembling that was happening on the insides of my body. I was a MESS! Lmao But look at me, I lived to tell the tale! I can laugh about it now. haha

Honestly as petrified as I was, I am glad I did it.  When you are able to push yourself to an insane limit like that and go “WOW! HOLY SHIT, I DID IT!”, it really is an indescribable feeling.

So I learned, no one gets to pick their trail name….it picks you. As I was preparing for my first hike, I was worried about pottying in the woods of course. I was worried more about #1 than #2 as far as technique. I grew up camping with my family and around woods and farm country. All my life I have never been graceful with trying to pop-a-squat to pee in the wilderness. So after a lot of research on technique (hahaha) I ended up getting a ‘she-wee’ contraption so that when I had to pee, I could just pee like the guys, standing up and it not turn into an ordeal. LOL I had a little mesh bag to keep it in, that I hooked on the outside of my pack and bought a kula cloth antimicrobial wipe. Ewwe right?! As I’d be trailing along, my little bag with my pee-cup was just swinging happily back and forth….and it resembled a tea-cup…so it came SUPER easy for the guys to spoof my trail name off of that free raw material I gave them; AND THAT is how I became “Tea Cup”. 😂

So when we finally got to camp that first night it was pitch black.  We hiked the entire day.  Once we got to camp, we set up and cooked a literal Thanksgiving dinner.  That was pretty awesome I have to tell ya!  We had some things prepared before hand and did carry the little bit of extra weight. We had turkey, mashed taters, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and I think we had pumpkin rolls.  The guys were messing with me hardcore because as we were eating, they told me to be careful not to splatter or drop food because we didn’t want to attract the bears.  So of course with my clumsiness I spilt something.  Go figure! Lol  It ended up being just fine.  We didn’t get mauled by bears.  You bet I went around my eating spot and cleaned the ground of my sloppy eating that had me noided out though!

That first night I didn’t sleep the greatest—it wasn’t that I wasn’t tired.  I was exhausted.  I have always struggled with insomnia.  My hammock was comfortable, but honestly, I think after all that money we spent on my custom hammock, I probably would have been more comfortable in a tent on a sleeping pad all stretched out. I was a little bit chilly as well.  We ragged on my husband the next morning because he was supposed to help me get all settled and tucked in all warm and he did not.  We did happen to get it on video for “I hate Denny day”.  It was in good fun!

The second day, which was the Indian Staircase day; we found a camp site not far from the top of the staircase after we went up it.  In the middle of the night/next morning, the sky opened up and just absolutely POURED rain on us and it wasn’t supposed to quit for quite some time. 

It was a super chilly November rain and we were no doubt gonna have a wet cold miserable day.  The guys planned out that we were gonna have to call it quits and get back to the car.  Boy was I glad for that! Chris ended up packing up lightning quick and made a break to go get the car while we made our way out for him to get us.  It was either going to be him or my hubby as they knew the ins/outs and quickest loops and short cuts to cut out in a hurry to get to the car.  We hiked out a different way for my benefit as I told them I was not hiking down the staircase haha! I had PRAYED that Chris would get picked up quick by a passing car so that we’d get out of the weather faster.  It was freaking cold!  We had rain gear to keep us as dry as possible.  One piece of simple cheap gear that I wished I would have had in the wet cold moment was some simple disposable rubber gloves.  My gloves that I had were water resistant, but not waterproof.  Cold hands SUCK when you’re hiking in cold rain.  A couple pairs of simple rubber gloves would have been a great asset.

So yeah, that was my first ever full hiking experience.  Like I said, in the midst of it I did get a little bit grumpy and I even sound like a super salty pirate after we climbed up one of many super straight up climbs and made it to a road. They got me on video griping.  I was complaining that “this was supposed to be “my hike.” Lol I sound like a bit of a witch….Boy did these fellas kick my butt!!  I think I was a friggen TROOPER going on my first hike with these crazy boys!

This photo was taken right after I was able to change into warm/dry clothes and get into a heated car! That’s the look of HAPPINESS!

I did enjoy my first major hike though despite my complaints.  I am looking forward to another hike, at my own pace and I will no doubt do it any other way. 

I am planning on meeting up with my hubby and son on the AT soon!  I figure I’ll be able to meet up with them at least 3 times.  The first visit, I’ll be glamping with them in a hotel; as soon as I finish up this semester in May, I plan on jumping on trail with them for a few days—and i’m excited for that.  I for sure will hike with them at the end as they summit Katahdin to be there to support them. 

Here is the FULL video of my Red River Gorge Hike! Hope ya’ll enjoy it! Drop me your comments! ❤

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