Dwight Peck's personal website
A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The road home: a walk on the Carter Caves State Resort Park 'Three Bridges Trail'
Our annual summer pilgrimage to the Wisconsin Northwoods
After two days of profoundly yawnable driving (and cat-tending) through southern Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, we've fetched up at the Carter Caves State Resort Park in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky.
Despite the understandable covid requirements, the Carter Caves State Resort was a proper treat -- a clean, inexpensive room, a decent restaurant serving takeout to the rooms, and many, many things to do if you're sportif and so inclined. Like more than 30 short, medium, and very long hiking trails, rock climbing, boating, camping, and fishing, and of course guided tours through some of the caves.
[It turns out that Kentucky has 17 of these very recommendable 'state resort parks' with clean, affordable 'lodges'. We spent a few days at the Natural Bridge State Resort Park in June 2021.]
For us, the obvious choice is the roughly 3-hour hiking trail, the Three Bridges Trail, which takes us on about a four mile loop from the resort centre and back again, with lots of interesting scenery promised. The proposed route can be seen at the bottom of this page, and obviously we made it through.
So we've set out at a suitable hour, on 7 October 2020, starting with a little detour down to the Smoky Valley Lake, so-called, . . .
. . . for a quick admiring look at it, . . .
. . . with a few boaters paddling along, before we go back up to the vicinity of the first of our promised three bridges.
Having got back up here, the first bridge ('Smoky Bridge') is down there.
The concrete steps are a thoughtful touch.
This is the largest of our three sandstone bridges, they tell us -- no surprises there!
It must have been created by water rushing over the years down this gorge towards the Smoky Valley Lake below, but at some point a couple of tons of stony impedimenta have fallen down and closed off the downside end of it.
We continue on our march.
The trail back up out of the gorge
A nice comfy trail for walking on, and red splashes from time to time on the trees to prevent our wandering off into the brush
We apparently have a mile to go before we descend upon the Welcome Centre and Gift Shop on the road leading up into the resort.
Tangles of old trees and huge vines strewn about
Good to know
The park's Welcome Centre -- we've noticed that we forgot to carry enough water with us, and we're stopping in to remedy that situation.
And to pick up some deep-fried oreos for the trail, but Mr Groovy Grub has closed down for the end of season.
At the Welcome Centre we're about a quarter or a third of the way along. We're confident that we can do this.
Back up the hill
A pleasant track contouring up to the left and over the ridge
It's a splendid and easily walkable trail, very important for a walker who's recovering from some rather troublesome mobility issues.
Rock-wise, the scenery is becoming still more interesting.
We're amongst what our map describes as the 'many impressive sandstone cliffs'.
Like that one
One dimly recalls having visited Carter Caves with the family in a camping van in about 1970, to witness a bluegrass music festival, but nothing here looks familiar at all.
Good views to be had from up on the parapets
It's in this region that we passed the 'Rappelling and Rock Climbing Area', where, if wished, one can descend a wooden stairway to the base of these cliffs and then, with suitable skills and effort, come back up the hard way.
We note the tempting stairway but continue along the path.
But it certainly sounds like fun!
Down to another little foot bridge conveniently placed
Now our path descends about 60 or 80 metres to what is called the 'Fern Bridge'.
So here we go.
No ferns yet underfoot
Just sand and mud
Extremely pleased to be here
The little sign across the way announces that this is indeed the 'Fern Bridge'. And there really are some rather unattractive ferns all round down here near the bottom.
That's the natural bridge above us.
Makes you a little dizzy staring up at it
And now, back up out of the fern country.
We seem to be turning round a corner, back towards the west, and eventually to base.
One more bridge to go
It's up there.
With some welcome artificial aids for getting there
Oh, well done.
So that's the 'Raven Bridge'.
A little less than a mile from the last bridge, our walk is coming towards its end.
We can hear the automobiles from here, not far off now.
Back to the lodge, properly called the 'Lewis Caveland Lodge' apparently. (It's not entirely clear whether this is a state-owned facility or some kind of complicated 'public-private partnership'. It's still very nice.)
So tomorrow we're off again.
I64 through West Virginia, a welcome relief after Indiana
And soon, descending into the Shenandoah Valley and . . .
. . . home.
This is a map of trails near and roundabout the Lodge, down by the lake, and the Welcome Centre near the top. The Three Bridges Trail follows the reddish sort of route that passes by . . . three bridges.
Next up: A Staunton autumn, with a few walks and a political demonstration.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 25 November 2020.