In 2005, Matt and Amy Tackett organized the first Climbers That Care event to help provide food and clothing to needy families in the Red River Gorge area. The focus of this year’s Climbers That Care event was a food drive benefitting the Lee County, Kentucky Helping Hands Food Bank. The food bank feeds an average of 1,000 people on a monthly basis. With the help of Climb NuLu in Louisville, Kentucky – Climb Time in Cincinnati, Ohio – RockQuest in Cincinnati, Ohio – and Daniel Boone Trading Post in Slade, Kentucky, enough non-perishable food items were collected to fill the cargo area of Subaru Outback. A total of $400 was also collected for the purchase of holiday hams and turkeys. Big thanks go to Rob Moore, Matt Seto, Patty Law, Valerie McDonough, Nancy Hamann, Nick Summe, and Ana Noll for their help in making this a successful event!
By this time of the year I tend to get pretty grouchy and kind of tired over sharing my back yard with tourists, climbers and hippies. Events like the Johnny and Alex Trail Day and the people that make it happen really help to break that edge off, as well as give me a little hope for humanity.
As normal the temps were more fitting for a day on the water, the bugs were thick enough to block out the sun, enough snakes moving around to make every Baptist in the country happy and the humidity in the air alone could cure Africa of its droughts. But there you were along with over 125 other folks sweating away and getting dirty for other folks to have areas to come play on. I’m sure somewhere Johnny and Alex were laughing and wishing they were there with you.
With getting old and injuries keeping me from playing, my focus has been less on route/crag development and has turned to proper trail development and repair. As climbers we tend to break every trail rule known and have to end up revisiting those trails each year. Over the last couple years we have been working on learning proper trail design and repair as well as teaching that to others in the community. That effort was very obvious at this years trail day. Each trail day a few of us usually end up going back out and “re-fixing” at least 75% of the trail work done on those days. This year I bet we have to revisit less than 10%. Since all percentages are made up on the spot, and even if these are off by 10%, the improvement is more than even Blake could argue about. Awesome!
Simply amazing work was done at Chica and the Solar Collector area. The Sore Hill short cut trail and an enormous amount of work was done on the Flat Holler multiple use trail system. Everyone should be proud of their accomplishments and I can’t say thanks enough for doing the job right the first time, allowing me to go out looking for new areas and developing new trails instead of fixing old ones.
As the trail day finished up and everyone growing thirsty for adult beverages and amazing bluegrass music from the 23 String Band, our annual storm blew through and almost canceled the music out… until Bart Bledsoe came to the rescue and created an indoor music hall in an outdoor setting. As the band tore up the stage and the dirtbags danced all night long I sat back, content and replay the days events in my mind. As normal I leave this trail day happier and it really does touch my heart that so many people care about the area they play in and are willing to take the steps necessary to save it and develop it properly.
This is what Johnny envisioned the RRGCC and the PMRP being. Major props for making what he started continue to happen today and hopefully for many years to come.
Events of this size could not be pulled off without many people pulling more than their share of the weight. To all the organizers, trail leaders and assistants of the day(you know who you are), THANKS and You Suck!
All photos by the talented and generous Elodie Saracco.
We also could not pull this off without the help from our generous sponsors. Big shout outs to:
- Miguel’s Pizza,
- Red River Outdoors,
- Lago Linda’s,
- Phillip Gall’s,
- J&H Lanmark,
- Kentucky Mountain Biking Association,
- Access Fund,
- Gordon Food Service,
- Bourbon n’ Toulouse,
- RockQuest Climbing Center,
- Mt Ranks,
- CLIF Bar,
- Land of the Arches,
- Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure,
- Bluegrass Bouldering,
- Primal Spirit Strips,
- Red River Gorge Inn (formerly True North),
- Benchmark Outfitters,
- Whole Foods Market,
- The 23 String Band,
- and many others who sent love our way.
Take care of yourself, each other and the lands you use,
(by Matt Tackett)
It’s one thing to talk about taking care of the lands you use… It’s easy to spray online or around the campfire about giving back to an area we take so much from… It’s simple and way too common to think others will just pick up your mess like being back home with mom on summer break… It seems most people think those sustainable trail systems have always been there or that Bambi built them for us… A few of us know that’s not true and that it requires someone to put action to their words and show they truly want to be stewards for our playgrounds.
A few of those special folks gathered together on National Trail Day, June 4th, 2011. The Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition joined up with the state of KY and Natural Trails and Construction to host a Train the Trainer day. This day focused on how to design, build and repair sustainable trails as well as how to organize and run trail days in the most efficient manner.
As our area becomes more popular, as we start using more of the lands we own and as we continue having issues in areas not owned by the community we have seen that land impact is top priority and the reason for closures. Impact management is becoming much more important than what the grades or stars are on the routes, whether you can ride the whole trail without dabbing or how fast you can run the system. As users we must protect what we use, it’s a fine line we have to walk. With well designed, properly built sustainable trail systems being the most important piece of this puzzle.
14 people showed up bright and early on this beautiful day proving their loyalty to the lands around us. The class held strong as I mumbled on for a few hours over common mistakes seen on our lands, IMBA standard trail building practices such as full bench construction, proper trail layout and closures. Re-routing and trail repair were discussed in great depth as well as general tool and trail day safety. Lunch was served thanks to the one and only Dr. Bob. Then the group went out to get their hands dirty cutting new trails in the Flat Holler area of the PMRP.
Many thanks to everyone involved. I feel much was learned, by the students and the teachers. With attending this class you have done more than just showing you care about that land, its users and your playground. You have shown that you will be top of my list for the Johnny and Alex Trail Day trail leaders email, no good deed goes unpunished…
We look forward to seeing everyone at the next big trail day and party. If you only attend one event a year then the Johnny and Alex Trail Day is the one to hit. It will be on August 13th this year and will be packed full of good folks, good times and good music. Visit www.rrgcc.org for more information and to pre-register.
April 2011 in Kentucky has been the wettest on the books. I’m not sure if I’m going mad from being out in it everyday but I’m really beginning to wonder if my lil’ man is going to pop out with gills and if I need to start gathering my animals for the boat, damn, now I have to build a boat…..
So when we posted the trail day in early April and the weather looked golden we thought for sure that no one would show up and we would have to raid the crags and pull people away and force tools in their hands. To say we were surprised is an understatement. We had over 50 people show up, all with tools in hand, smile on their face and ready to work. It was a huge mixture of families, school groups, old school crusties and wide-eyed gumbies. It was awesome to see so many different types of users out building their recreation area. I think I even heard the trees smile. We worked the day away bench cutting and starting a large switchback crux on the multiple use trails in the Flat Holler area. I wish I could list everyone out that showed but my hippie hillbilly mind does not remember what day it is today. But I would like to give big props to Dr. Bob Matheny for lunch, Mike Driskel for getting this one started and a huge thanks to everyone else behind the scenes that make these days possible.
When last Saturday’s trail day was called , it was called mainly to pry the Silver Bullet from Grayson just to make sure he was still kicking. The weather was sweet that day and it had been raining all week. I figured it would just be Don and I in the middle of the woods, blind leading the blind and could have been the start of a bad country song. But nope, pleasantly surprised again with about 10 folks showing up to work their beautiful day away. I would like to take a second and thank Dave Jasperson and his crew of boys. He does not get near enough thanks for what he and his work crew do for the area. It’s always amazing to see kids learning real world skills and actually getting out in the woods. Working away all day swinging tools in the backwoods builds up a huge appetite and luckily for all of us, folks like Carrie Kirkpatrick is willing to drive down the day before and bring lunch for everyone. Another large portion of the Flat Holler trail was cut and I know for sure I heard a tree smile, but that could have been the margarita bar the Silver Bullet had in his truck……
In future news, we will be hosting a Train the Trainer trail day on the National Trail Day on June 4th. We will be teaching climbers, developers, bikers and who ever wants to learn how to design, build and repair trails using IMBA standards. This day will be limited to 20 people and we will be doing instructional time along with hands on field work in the PMRP. Lunch will be provided as well as take home literature to use when you are building your playground. Entrance fee is one beer of my choice…….or just email me (redriveroutdoors [at] gmail [dot] com) to reserve your spot.
Thanks, be safe and take care of each yourself and other,
Red River Reunion benefiting the RRGCC hosted by Miguel’s
The fun begins this Saturday morning! (3/26/11)
Shoe Demos from 5.10, La Sportiva & Evolv
Climbing Comp $10 at Torrent from 10 – 5
Festivities begin at 6 at Miguel’s
Dinner will be served around 7pm
Raffle, Vendor Booths & Lots of Fun!
We hope to see you there!
Johnny and Alex Trail Day, as seen by our fearless trail day leader, Matt Tackett:
Saturday morning started off as a typical summer day in Kentucky. Hot enough to scorch the devil, humid enough for altitude training, bugs thick enough to float a truck and more snakes laying around than fibers on a plush carpet.
No one in their right mind would be outside on a day like that. Especially not out bushwhacking to see what the next holler holds, hauling a drill kit through rhodo thickets so dense you can’t see the other side, or worse yet be out working for free for others enjoyment…
Luckily for all of us, Johnny did those things every chance he could get.
I’m not sure if it’s a spreadable disease from touching too much Corbin sandstone, or maybe it’s a side effect from too many Ale-8’s, but Johnny and Alex sure would have been proud to see a 120 people sharing the same affliction showing up with tools and water in hand and ready to suffer for something bigger than they are.
As volunteers received their trail assignments and raced out all over the PMRP it reminded me of ants rebuilding their hill after being disturbed. When everyone picks up a stone it makes the wall easier to build. So as I swat another horse fly to the ground and wash the stinging nettle sting off my arms, I’m laughing out loud and thinking to myself that this is what Johnny wanted the PMRP and the RRGCC to be.
Volunteers braved the elements and didn’t stop until projects were completed. Chica Bonita, Curbside, Bob Marley, Shire, Gallery, Left Field, Play Ground, Volunteer Wall, Courtesy, Rival, Sore Heel short cut trail and the new mountain bike trails all saw significant improvements. Work was made easier by the amazing wraps provided my Miguel’s and crew as well as drinks from GFS and Red River Outdoors.
You would think that once the work whistle was blown that folks would be lining up to leave the property, to be the first to make the slip and slide run, be the hero that tapped the kegs or at least be first in line for dinner provided by True North Outfitters. But this strange affliction that we share drove a few crews insane and they literally had to be pushed down the hill with tools in hand and blindfolded to prevent further work.
As everyone gathered back to Lago Linda’s to wash, feed and drink the sore muscles away a storm like no other rolled in, only adding fuel to the party that was to come. By the time the 23 String Band took the stage the crowd had shaken the sore muscles away and gotten warmed up for a full night of dancing by an impromptu one-arm pull-up adult beverage chugging contest… that in all reality should become an Olympic event. The 23 String Band tore it up as always and played well into the night keeping everyone on their feet and truly enjoying this thing we call life.
Completely exhausted and soaked in rain and sweat I look around at all the smiling faces of friends and family and an overwhelming sense of belonging and calm takes over… and we all dance again.
Thanks to everyone that made this years Johnny and Alex Trail Day the best one yet. Looking forward to suffering in the woods, dancing till I can’t move and making Johnny and Alex proud again this time next year.
JR Goodwin, our good friend from Louisville, Kentucky, recently helped host a Trail Day to maintain the trails in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve – Coal Bank Hollow. At the end of the day, he found himself in a rare state – out of words.
Sitting here to type out the events of the May 15th trail day extravaganza I find myself, for once, speechless. From the initial ideas and layout to the hard work and sweat of those in attendance as well as the lunch, beer, and party spot donated by those who couldn’t attend, a huge THANK YOU!! I have been left smiling about the wonderful community and family that we of the Red River Gorge are so lucky to have. A passion passed onto me by many of those before me was obviously shared by the many, many people that showed up that day and to say that much was accomplished would be an understatement of the sheer force that descended onto coal Bank Hollow that day.
Another meeting down, another docket of business together, another set of cookies, stickie buns, and brownies put away.. Yep, the April 17th meeting of the RRGCC is all but history with one of our larger crowds in hand, likely due to some of the spring’s best weather to date.
If you missed this one, have no fear – there’s one tentatively scheduled for July 24. Check back again (or subscribe to our feed) to find out the details. In the meantime, read over the proceedings from this last meeting to stay up with the current happenings and updates.
Read more after the break..
Roadside Crag is one of the Red River Gorge’s most popular crags. Minutes from the parking off a major roadway and hosting wide range of climbs, Roadside attracts dozens of climbers of all abilities every weekend. Roadside is located on the Graining Fork Nature Preserve, land that is owned by climber-friendly Grants Stevens and Jon Haight. Over the years, though, Roadside’s popularity has contributed to increased wear and tear on the approach trail, especially near the steep trail-head. The increased foot traffic led to obvious problems with drainage and erosion.
On Saturday, April 3, 2010 Mike Driskell of Driskell Home Repair in Louisville organized a second trail day at Roadside Crag to try to address those problems. Thirteen people came to put the sweat of their brow into helping remove litter, trim tree branches, widen the trail-head, and improve drainage along the beginning of the trail. They refueled with some Miguel’s for lunch, provided by Driskell Home Repair, and stuffed their packs with some RRGCC schwag. After working on the trail-head, Driskell and company moved to the area near Roadside Attraction, a classic and popular trad climb, where the trail went straight up a series of rock steps. The poor drainage and steep incline led to severe erosion in this area. Now, after plenty of volunteer effort, the trail now accesses this area via a switchback that should mitigate the impacts near Roadside Attraction.
Mike hopes to return complete the new section of the trail on the next Roadside Trail Day, possibly in the spring of 2011. Additional projects also include working to stabilize the erosion around the base of the slab routes to the far-right of the cliff line.
Thank you to the volunteers that helped: John Grider, Malcolm Akindana, Randy Tebbs, Carrie Kirkpatrick, Dave Jasperson, JR Goodwin, Mark Rohr, Robert Keith Todd, Bryan Spencer, Josephine Neff, Derrick Powell, and Mike Driskell.
If you were not able to participate in this event, please mark your calendar for Johnny & Alex Trail Day (check out last year’s JATD), which will be held on August 14th, and stay tuned for more! Or, if you want to throw yourself at a project all your own, tell us about it and we’ll support you!
Miguel’s Red River Reunion was a smashing success this spring raising over $2,900 to benefit the RRGCC! The day began with shoe demos from Evolv and LaSportiva so that climbers could have the best shoes possible to compete in the climbing competition. Twenty-six people signed up to compete and Rick Bost was ready and waiting with the gates open at Torrent Falls. Congratulations to the winners & thank you to all who competed!
1. Maria Farinacci 4 routes 24 points
2. Carrie Vieland 3 routes 24 points
3. Neysa Dominguez 3 routes 22 points
1. Stacy Boore 15 routes 214 points
2. Jessica Brackett 14 routes 204 points
3. Emily Rubin 15 routes 194 points
1. Mike McCrum 6 routes 74 points
2. Joe Simmons 7 routes 59 points
3. tie – Andrew Candela and Jeremy Stocks 48 points
1. Mike Anderson 11 routes 197 points
2. Roger Bess 12 routes 183 points
3 Jason Marshall 14 routes 177 point
The RRGCC Sales table was staffed by friendly RRGCC Volunteers: JR Goodwin, Vince Cocciolone, Derrick Powell, Paul Vidal & Josephine Neff. We quickly sold out of several items including the limited edition RRGCC nut tool, which was donated by Ken Thompson. We hope to have an even wider selection for our next event!
The evening included a fantastic pig roast prepared by the Miguel’s Crew. It was followed by a raffle, a slide show, and a video by Spencer Victory. And as always, Dario had stacked the wood high for the evening bonfire!
Thank you to all who came and participated – and THANK YOU MIGUEL’S!