Red River Gorge

9:00 p.m. on April 14, 2013 (EDT)
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A couple of friends and I are going camping this June. I was just curious of what to expect since this will be our first time camping out of a campground. Now, I've been told that we're entering "Bear Country", so what can we do with our food? We're planning on being out there for about 3 days. So, what should we do about keeping food cold? Or should we only pack simple meals such as Mac n Cheese, crackers, tuna, exedra? Now, supplies. What are the bare essentials that we need to take?

2:22 p.m. on April 15, 2013 (EDT)
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are you car camping or backpacking?

5:04 p.m. on April 15, 2013 (EDT)
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You've got a few different issues there.

First, as TJ asks, while you say this will be your 'first time camping out of a campground', you haven't specified if you're leaving your car behind at the TH. If you're not, you don't really have to worry too much what you bring.

If you're backpacking in 'bear country', you need to follow a whole whack of protocols meant to avoid attracting hungry bears to your food. Think about sealed packages and OP Sacks to keep the smell from leaching into your backpack, and a bear bag or canister, with rope to hang the food far away from your tent a night. 

Weight is a big issue while hiking, and the biggest weight element in food is water. You can buy dehydrated meals or make your own, or you can subsist on energy bars and trail mix. You also have to consider the fuel needed to cook the food, if that's necessary. For example, KD or Sidekicks might be quite light, but they take 7-11 minutes of simmering time and that much more fuel than just boiling enough water to re-hydrate the food. Mountain House boil-in-a-bag meals are lighter and they cook on their own without extra heat once you dump in the boiling water. They're also expensive and some meals taste terrible.

Forget canned goods like tuna. You're carrying the water, something you could add instead while cooking, and you're stuck with lugging out stinky cans (or foil envelopes) of bear bait after you're done. Forget things like beef jerky - the salt will crank up your need for water and you'll swell up like a balloon. And don't forget water treatment - there is no such things a 'pure' mountain stream. Some just have less dangerous bacteria than others. 

I don't understand what you mean by 'keeping food cold'.  You can chill your beer in a mountain stream, but you can't really keep anything cool en route unless you want to lug ice packs. Even then they'll only last for a day under the best of conditions, and you're carrying a lot of unnecessary weight. The closest you might be able to get is one of those old fabric-covered canteens. Get the outside wet and the evaporation will help keep the contents cool.  

Maybe an example is best. My typical trail breakfast is oatmeal with a handful or two of trailmix thrown in, and premixed instant coffee. Lunch might be cheese strings or wax-covered cheese, VEL seed bars, and Sunrype dried fruit bars. Supper would be AT LEAST one bag of the 2-4 serving dehydrated meals. (I'm not a big guy, but I still don't know how anyone could survive on half of one of those little sacks.) Where I've been unworried about fuel weight, I've done tomato Roma Sidekicks, with cheese bits, and sundried tomatoes for extra zip. Cheese strings are sealed but they get greasy once they get warm. Try BonBels or Edam cheese instead. They stay good when warm, and the wax coating makes a great fire starter. 

Those are just my personal preferences, and everybody will have their own ideas. 

5:42 a.m. on April 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Based on the nature of your question I am guessing there is a lot more than bears awareness and types of food to pack, that you will need to know to enjoy your first trip.  Nothing wrong with that we all started out there.  But may I suggest before you throw any specific questions out to this peanut gallery that you first read a couple of books of the topic, or at least invest a good amount of time reading through the forum archives.  Sometimes the mundane will have a huge impact on your enjoyment, and make or break your trip and desire to pursue camping in the future.  What a shame it would be if a poorly fitting pack or boots, or inappropriate sleeping bag causes you to lose interest.  There are many other considerations, too, take my word on this.  So invest some research time, and then ask; you'll feel smarter, ask better questions, and understand better the premise behind folk's answers.

Ed

11:33 a.m. on April 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for the help and sorry for not specifying my question. There's going to be about 5 or 6 of us. We're wanting to just hike until we find a nice flat area and make a base camp there. I've been hiking and camping before but I've never gone backcountry. I think that's why I'm so eager to try. Now that I've re-read my question, I feel pretty dumb. Ha. But I've been doing a lot more research on the general area and all the rules. I've pretty much got the whole food thing figured out. Since I've been labeled as the "food holder", I've decided to pack trail foods, instant meals, and others loaded with carbs. Now with the backpack, what kind of clothes should we take? That's the only issue I have at the moment.

12:23 p.m. on April 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Clothing? Convertible hiking pants, and the hiking boots, socks and shirt you plan on wearing. Hat, gloves, sunglasses, etc. 1 pair each of extra socks and underwear. Waterproof/breathable shell and synthetic fleece. 

Anything else would be dependent on where you're going and what weather conditions you would be expecting. 

I assume you're talking about the Red River Gorge in Kentucky? You'd need less insulation there in June than at higher elevations or colder climates, but you'd need better rain gear than in Arizona, for example. 

As Ed says, a bit of research on what you can expect at that location at that time of year would help a lot. 

3:01 p.m. on April 17, 2013 (EDT)
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you need to be a bit more specific about where you're going, do research on the area and the climate and make your clothing choices based on that. we can help you, but only if we have more information about where you are and where you're going.

3:45 p.m. on April 18, 2013 (EDT)
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I live in Louisville, Ky and we're going to the Red River Gorge. Sorry, I thought I added that. We've pretty much got everything we need to take written down in a list. Do you guys known of any good backcountry spots? Or, we could just start on a trail and then explore ourselves?

11:09 a.m. on April 19, 2013 (EDT)
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I assume you have a good trail map?

Without one, you probably shouldn't be wandering around on a trail by yourself - sounds like a very good way to get lost. You'll hear repeated mentions here of using a map and compass - take that advice!

12:45 p.m. on April 19, 2013 (EDT)
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yes. definitely need a map and compass. good way to avoid a rescue. go online and do research on the area and trails, rules about bear cans and fires, and all that stuff. I recommend you get a bearikade bear can as opposed to hanging - most of the bears have that figured out.

10:09 p.m. on April 22, 2013 (EDT)
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DO NOT GO WANDERING OFF TRAIL if you're not familiar with the area.   A couple people fall to their deaths at The Gorge every year due to alcohol use, wandering away from their campsite in the dark, rock-climbing without proper gear, or sometimes bushwhacking cross-country without knowing where they're going.  The established trails are marked and easy to follow - no problems there.  Please, no bushwhacking unless you're skilled with that map and compass, and don't rely on GPS - the high cliffs will sometime interfere with your signal.    I love the Gorge, but take it seriously.

As for bears - I've been going there for 30 years, and only in the past two years has there been any confirmed bear sightings/problems.   Supposedly they've moved into the area, but I've never seen any sign of them.   I think calling RRG "bear country" is probably an overabundance of caution, but I guess that never hurts.

In June it's gonna be hot, and you'll want to check the most current information for fire-conditions, as there was a ban on campfires as recently as last summer.

If you're intimidated by USGS quad maps, there's a local company here in Lexington that makes terrific user-friendly trailmaps of the area - they're called OutrageGIS http://www.outragegis.com/gorge/ .  You can get them through their own website or locally in sporting goods stores.

If you want a good base-camp, stay down near the Red River somewhere, or one of the numerous creeks in the area (Rockbridge Trail might be a good option) - it'll be cooler down in the valleys, and that little creek that runs under Rockbridge can refridgerate some of your food, at least temporarily - plus you have an easily-filtered water source.

Lots of great day hikes down there - a must-see, IMO the most beautiful lookout in the entire RRG, is the Auxier Ridge trail out to Courthouse Rock - you can turn it into an overnighter by linking up to the Double Arch and Raven's Rock trails, too.   Check it out.

Finally, reward yourself on the way out of the area with pizza at Miguel's.  Trust me on that one.

As June gets closer, feel free to shoot me an email with any questions.

Kenny D

kwd101@insightbb.com

1:54 p.m. on April 23, 2013 (EDT)
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sounds like good advice, but only if you heed it...

2:53 p.m. on April 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Damn. Thanks for all the advice. We're not going in June now. We'll be heading down the 10th of May. We figured that the weather wouldn't be too bad then. But we're all pretty stoked to go. The crowd is mixed between first trimmers and experienced hikers of the RRG. So, I think we'll be good.

11:23 p.m. on April 23, 2013 (EDT)
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You guys will be fine.

7:19 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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In the weeks since I read this thread, there have been three out-of-staters from Michigan who were lost/rescued, and now this:  http://www.lex18.com/news/officials-search-for-man-missing-in-red-river-gorge-in-wolfe-county/

Hopefully the guy is okay and will be found soon - but I've got a bad feeling, if nothing else because I would NEVER just leave my dog like that.   Keep your fingers crossed.

 

KD

11:17 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Missing hiker found dead at the bottom of a 160-foot fall.

 

http://www.lex18.com/news/missing-red-river-gorge-hiker-found-dead/

11:06 a.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Don't ovethink it.  Most of your questions will get answered while you are out there.  Just don't sleep with your food and bring just enough clothes to stay warm.  Forget all of the just in case stuff.  Enjoy your friends and being out there.  Be careful about moving around a gorge at night.  Don't bring an axe if the people are inexperienced.

July 29, 2014
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