Exploring Clifty Falls

“We’ve all had a heartache. And so my journey now is to find some sort of grace in the face of this defeat. And I can look at the journey, not just the destination. I can feel proud, I can stand here in front of you tonight and say I was courageous.”  – Diana Nyad

The quote above speaks loudly to me. We all face disappointment and I know that I have endured many of my own heartaches. But somehow, wandering in the woods brings out the strong, sometimes buried courageous side of myself.  Its not just about the destination, but facing head on the challenges of your own journey. Sometimes I find myself trudging on trying to get to the end destination instead of focusing merely on the beauty around me, and the strength it took to reach the top of that hill.

So much like life… some times we find ourselves wishing it away. I will be happy… when… if only…. as soon as (insert end goal). Often, I relate my hikes back to situations I am facing in life because I find there are a lot of comparisons to be made there metaphorically. Clifty Falls is one of those special places with no end destination, because there is so much beauty every where you turn. There may be a few hills along the path, but the payoff and strength gained is worth it.

A couple of weekends ago I visited Clifty with a friend of mine and did some exploring. First, we went to scope out the waterfall, because it’s super easy to get to and is a must see for the first visit. Then, we went down to the creek bed to wander around for the rest of the day (Trail 3). There was hardly anyone there that day (it was still cold) so we let the dogs enjoy some off leash time too.

For me the creek bed is always a delight. Its dried up in many areas, which allows you to explore all through it. The cliff sides and trees surround you and the beautiful creek stones and occasional flowing water makes for gorgeous views. The creek also features many large coral and shell fossils. All of these sights, and sounds let me fall away from my daily barrage of worries (again… coping with anxiety) and just savor the current moment. FYI there are many different trails in this park and it is certainly suitable for beginners.

If you live near Louisville it is only a short 1-hour drive to Madison, IN where you will find Clifty Falls State Park. Madison itself is a charming, historical riverside town. Anyone needing a place to hike this spring, and a place to enjoy the “now” should certainly add Clifty to your list of nearby visits.

 

Advertisements

Ponderings in the Woods

This weekend I decided to head to Red River Gorge on Sunday because the weather was unseasonably warm and I just had to spend it in one of my favorite places! Sometimes the winter months can put me in a bit of a melancholy mindset, and getting outdoors always helps to shake that off.

I loaded up my gear and the dog in the car and we headed for the Gorge. This time I decided to hike to Moonshiners Arch and a few miles along Copperas Creek. My pictures don’t do the scenery justice. The cliffs of the Gorge rose grandly above us on one side and the meandering creek was on the other side, all while being enveloped in the lush forest. Moonshiners Arch is a little off the trail, but it’s a unique treasure with a hole in the top of the arch where the sun was peaking through.

As I walked I began thinking (I think a lot on my hikes) about many of the things I have been worrying about lately. Am I where I should be in life right now with regard to relationships (meeting the right person… how do people do it?!), finances – saving for a home, not to mention the trip I’m trying to plan to Machu Picchu within the next year or so, work performance, yada yada yada…. the list just goes on and on!

At a certain point I finally stopped myself and just enjoyed the moment. I sometimes think I focus so much on my future and where I think I should be and I forget to stop and appreciate the moment. Life is so precious and beautiful, and often times the most beautiful destinations are reached on the most difficult paths, and usually on a path few have traveled. We don’t have to keep up with friends and acquaintances because they are on their own journey.

My life is currently filled with adventure, and I am on my own so I have the benefit of making my own decisions, the ability to grab my backpack at anytime and head out the door. I love having my own space, my own rules and solo adventures. The other things will fall into place when it’s time. For now I will love on my beagle pup (aka best hiking partner ever) and enjoy the space I am in now.

What are some of your goals and dreams? Do you ever find yourself worrying about the things you don’t have, instead of appreciating the things you do? How do you find balance? Let me know! ❤

Why I Hike Alone

One question I consistently get from family and friends is, “Why do you hike alone?” and “Don’t you know how dangerous that is?” and the answer is there are many reasons I do, and I am fully aware of the risks involved. Hiking alone can be dangerous and I would never suggest it for just anyone. In fact, as many of my friends know I took a little spill on the ice this week.

 

*Before and after my little accident. 

Luckily my fall wasn’t too bad since I was out alone and pretty far from my car. For me the rewards just outweigh the risks by far.

Empowerment

Being able to complete a challenging hike on my own gives me a sense of confidence like I have never know before. Learning to use a compass, map and my own sense of direction while navigating miles on my own fills me with an amazing sense of accomplishment. This is something that I would never have had the confidence to do alone a few years ago. And these empowering hikes have pushed me to see what other goals I can accomplish (hopefully one day the AT). I am woman – hear me ROAR!

Anxiety Relief

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have coped with an anxiety disorder since my early teen years. It has been one of those struggles that has at times seemed like I am in an exhausting, unending battle with my mind. One thing gives me relief more than anything else, and that is spending time alone in nature. There is something about getting back to the basics – no makeup, hair in a ponytail, no internet/cell phone and just fresh air, dirt, and me and my dog. I LOVE time with my friends and I love staying connected, but sometimes I need to just take the time to unplug and appreciate the beauty around me. I need this time to unwind and remember that tomorrow is a new day; just breathe and let things go.

Gratitude

When I am alone in the woods or in the eastern hills of Kentucky I often find myself in awe of the beauty that surrounds me. I feel so grateful for my body, my life and the experiences I have and I just feel so joyful. Joyful isn’t a word I normally use, but it seems like the only word that truly conveys the feeling of happiness that fills my heart. I sometimes even catch myself just smiling alone for no reason. Being grateful doesn’t mean everything in your life is perfect – there are so many things I could improve on – but I acknowledge what things I do have in my life instead of constantly seeking the next best thing. I am grateful.

What empowers you? What brings you joy and makes you feel grateful? I would love to hear from you.

Please note: Although I enjoy taking a hike and enjoying the solitude, I always let someone know where I am going, distance and expected completion time and I always go prepared. I have a pack filled with emergency gear, extra water and I always study my routes prior to hitting the dirt. I also know how to read a topographical map in case I get lost – pretty important before setting out alone.