So many years growing up, my family made an annual trek to southeast Kentucky to visit relatives. Almost always, we would stop at a little rest area just off of the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway near the small community of Slade. Also nearby, Natural Bridge Resort State Park. After a quick stop, we’d finish the drive to Floyd County and that was that. That state park was always a mystery to me, and I had no idea it was surrounded by a National Geological Area. We finally explored it in early 2015, nearly 30 years since my last family trip through the area. Many trips later, and we still can’t get enough.
Our last family backpacking adventure was in July 2016, down Wildcat Creek to Swift Camp Creek in Red River Gorge’s Clifty Wilderness. The ONLY camping we’ve done since then was that August, at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida. Many day hikes, but we were way overdue for an overnighter. Back to the Red we went!
I’m not going to go into detail on our hike, as we actually already did that in a Vlog on our Youtube channel. Let’s just say, it was full of wild flowers, shear cliffs, butterflies, and forest beauty as far as the eye could see. We camped on an unofficial trail with one of the best views in the Gorge, overlooking Cloud Splitter (a huge sandstone butte). We had a lot of new backpacking equipment to test as well, including new Osprey packs, hammocks, backpacking chairs, even a bear canister. The highlight of the expedition was our hike to Cloud Splitter itself. We didn’t fully climb it, but it was an adventure anyway. Watch the video to see for yourself!