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Friday, December 5, 2014

Sedimentary not Sedentary

For those not in the know, sedentary is an adjective used to describe someone who spends much of their time seated or inactive.  As you may already know I am not a sedentary person now, though there was a time in the past that I could have been described as sedentary.  It's never too late.

Ladies in Motion on the Whittleton Arch trail

Sedimentary is used as an adjective to describe rock that was formed by sediment which is the mud, sand, and organic material that makes its way to the bottom of lakes, rivers and seas.  Over time (lots of time) it gets compressed into the rock layers we see on exposed cliffsides today.

quartzose sandstone

The sedimentary rock we've been looking at here in the Red River Gorge is about 300 million years old and most of what we've seen is called Corbin Sandstone.  It is made of mostly fine grains of quartz sand, but we also saw plenty of white quartz pebbles all over the place on the trail and sometimes embedded in rocks.

If you're not Cory ignore the graffiti, notice the tiny pieces of quartz

This area with its exposed rock, steep hills and heavy clay soil did not lend itself to farming.  Our European ancestors did mine the region and harvest the forest, much like what happened in northern Wisconsin.  Some of those trees were 400 years old.

Young forest along the Whittleton Arch trail

While prehistoric Native Americans resided here, Kentucky actually did not have any permanent Native American population when the Europeans arrived.  Instead the area was used as common hunting grounds by the Shawnee from the north and the Cherokee from the south.

Mama turkey and her brood steps from our cabin
Momentarily sedentary - long enough for me to grab my iPhone

But maybe I should talk about our experience on the trail.  It was about 2.5 miles out and back to Whittleton Arch whether you access the trail from the Whittleton Campground or from near Tunnel Ridge Road which is where we chose.  Good thing too, because when we tried to check out the campground later just to be nosy they had it closed off.

The colors! The patterns!

It was a wonderful trail with lots of mostly easy spots and a couple of steeper spots thrown in to keep you on your toes.  Hemlocks and rhododendren  kept the forest looking green this late in the year and the exposed rock formations were outstanding examples of sandstone erosion.

It wasn't all rock and rhododendren ("It's only rock and rhody and I like it, like it, yes I do!") there was some fungi to be had as well.

And just a little further past the bearded fungus along the last steep incline we found Whittleton Arch and it was a beauty!

"Don't go too far away, Pam!"

Sharon likes to set up and relax when she gets to the destination, I like to scramble around like a monkey and see how many nooks and crannies I can find.

Sharon settles in for a coffee break
Whittleton Arch is the only arch in the Gorge where a waterfall goes over the top.  We met the photographer for the Detroit Lions earlier in the day at a trailhead and he's going to send me information on how to get an easy to use photo editing program so I can make shots like these with those pesky competing light and dark areas look good.  I just got so frustrated with the one I spent over a hundred dollars for a couple of years ago...and never used...that I never bothered to try again.

I could see where an arch of this size could be beneficial for primitive peoples.  It was drier and warmer than the surrounding forest.  Can't you just imagine children running up and down and scrambling all over the rock?  Probably a lot faster than I do it, too.

Back of the arch

I climbed all the way up and behind the arch, but then it took a turn toward the vertical so I had to give up.  I'm sure there are those who would have persevered.  

On our way to the arch we had a couple of pop-up drizzly showers but shortly after we started our return trip it started raining for real.  Good thing I bought that new raincoat and remembered to pack it on this trip, it rained every day and it kept me and my camera around my neck nice and dry.  

see the rain spots on the lens?

There was no wifi at the cabin last night or this morning so here I sit at the Panera in Franfort after a lovely morning wandering around its historic downtown.  In addition to some architecture gazing I bought a few holiday gifts to support local business.  Sharon left yesterday morning but I spent another day hiking in the rain yesterday.  Lots more pictures of the somewhat gloomy Gorge to come, never fear.

what's around the corner?

If I were the pessimistic type I would be suspicious that I'm dragging the bad weather with me when I travel since the same thing happened on our recent stop in Tennessee.  But since I'm more of an optimist I look at the rain and see an opportunity to have the trail to myself, not to mention not having to get up at the break of dawn in order to avoid the dreaded midday sun in my photographs.


  1. I don't see how your pictures could get any better with any photo editing program. These are fantastic. Just the same, if you get the info, please share for those of us who aren't quite so talented. This looks like a wonderful wonderful hike. Thanks for scrambling around to get all those terrific shots. Y'all look seriously bundled up. Way to go at carrying on despite the weather. I'm a wuss and move south at the first sign of cold. Although we haven't avoided the rain. :-)

  2. What a great area to hike in. I'm pinning this.

  3. Love the arch with the curtain of water. You really are having rain. Good thing you have such a 'glass half full' attitude.