Displaying items by tag: adventure

We All Float On – Canoeing and Kayaking in Dawson Springs

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/22/13)—If you live in or around the Hopkins County, KY region, adventure is right outside your doorstep (or at least a few miles down the road). From acres of sprawling forests, unique rock formations, and trail-laden parks, to immense waterways, scenic back roads, massive cave systems, and beyond, the western Kentucky region—and the state itself—is brimming with a variety of outdoors opportunities.

Yet, for all of the adrenaline-based activities at our disposal—mountain-biking, rock wall repelling, ATV/dirt bike riding, and jet-skiing, which is to name only a few—there are just as many options for relaxation, nature observation, family-friendly fun, and even a little light exercise.

Case in point: canoeing, kayaking, or boating on Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park’s Pennyrile Lake or Dawson Springs’ nearby Tradewater River.

Though many in our area are familiar with both locations, there may be less who are aware of their canoeing, kayaking, or boating possibilities.

Don’t own a canoe or kayak? While there are even more options at your disposal in Hopkins County if you do, don’t worry—both Pennyrile Lake and the Tradewater River have rentals available for reasonable prices. Worried about the upcoming shift into the fall and winter seasons? Don’t be. Both locations are accessible well into the later months of the year (and sometimes further).

Pennyrile Lake
A decades-old, 56 acre, reservoir-style body of water that stretches well over 3,300 foot from north to south, Pennyrile Lake is located amongst more than 14,000 acres of majestic woodlands. Though Pennyrile Lake’s size could be considered small in comparison to other nearby sites, such as Lake Beshear and Kentucky Lake, its diversity lends itself to a variety of pursuits. Take a few hours to soak up the indigenous wildlife amongst untainted shorelines, varied inlets, and a dense lily-pad “field”; examine the intricacies of sheer rock facings and outcroppings that border the lake’s edge, which are common to the Dawson Springs area; cast your fishing lure into fallen brush piles, beneath overhanging trees, and around the perimeter of adjoining docks; bring your camera and capture a variety of intriguing photographs; or simply take a fresh look at Pennyrile Lake’s historic dam from the water level. And that’s just scratching the surface. The pathway and approach you take to explore this striking setting is up to you and yours. What’s more, Pennyrile State Forest Resort Park offers lodging, camping, fresh food, golfing, swimming, and a bevy of other services/outdoors entertainment.

Here’s the lowdown on pricing and boating options, as well as times/dates that the lake is open to visitors:

• Paddleboats - $5/30 minutes; $8/hour; $25/day
• Canoes - $8/hour; $30/day
• Jon Boat (no motor) - $10/hour; $35/day
• Jon Boat (with motor) - $20/hour; $45/day; $86/two days

All rentals include boat paddles and life-jackets at no additional charge. Rentals are available from 10am – 5pm every day of the week until October 31st. For more information on Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, such as boat availability, call (270) 797-3421 or visit http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/pennyrile-forest/. Detailed directions to the park are also available at the aforementioned link.

Tradewater River
Named for the oftentimes “neutral” trade interactions it fostered between various native American tribes and white settlers in the early-to-mid-1800’s, the Tradewater River is a truly historic tributary of the Ohio River that meanders across western Kentucky and parts of Indiana for well over 100 miles. Though portions of the relatively slow-moving, yet tranquil and naturally picturesque, river are difficult or impossible to traverse by boat, canoe, or kayak due to large, sporadic deposits of fallen debris, local outdoors enthusiast and Dawson Springs resident, Hank Mills, offers regional adventure seekers and nature lovers a chance to experience between two and five unobstructed miles of the relaxing waterway through his personal, riverside business, Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks.

Below is a list of canoeing and kayaking options, as well as times/date and methods of scheduling a rental.

• Lower River (approx. two miles/one-and-a-half hours)—$20 per boat OR $15 per boat for groups renting three or more boats
• Upper River (approx. five miles/three to four hours)—$30 per boat OR $25 per boat for groups renting three or more boats

Rental fees include paddles, life-jackets, and onsite transportation to and from your launch/arrival site (if applicable). While walk-ins are acceptable from 9am to 5pm up until Labor Day (September 2nd, 2013), calling ahead of time to schedule a rental is strongly encouraged for those traveling into Dawson Springs from out of town. After Labor Day, pre-scheduling trips and rentals by phone will be mandatory. To set up an appointment, to find out more information, or to get specific directions, please call (270) 871-9475. Leave a voicemail if you don’t get an answer and someone will call you back as soon as possible. You can also find Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks on Facebook.

While the two aforementioned options are ideal for a relaxing daytrip by yourself, with friends, or with the whole family, Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks will also be hosting an exciting, adrenaline-pumping fitness challenge on Saturday, August 24th. In addition to a two mile kayak portion, the event will also host a 4K run and a 16.5 mile bike ride. If you’re interested in participating in the challenge, visit the following link for information on registration, locations, and more:
http://www.dawsonspringsky.com/trails/2013%20Brochure%20.pdf.

You may also find the Tradewater River Fitness Challenge on Facebook.

In the end, taking time out of our busy schedules and modern, fast-paced routines can oftentimes remind of us of what we are: adventure-seeking beings that have a natural drive to explore the world around us. We are nomadic at heart. And why not go and smell the roses from time-to-time? Immersing one’s self in the natural world can soothe and relax the mind, body, and perhaps the very essence of our being. Floating and swaying along on a serene waterway lightens our sense of immediacy, giving us a feeling of buoyancy and weightlessness, while provoking our ancestral instincts. 

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Luke Short and Tradewater Canoes and Kayaks

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Crossing Coordinates: A Chance Encounter with Geocacher Chris Fox


WESTERN KY (11/13/12)—A couple months back, I set out to write a proper article regarding what I consider to be one of the most unique places in western Kentucky—Pilot Rock. In order to really do the landmark justice, though, I needed to revisit the area with a camera, a notepad, and a fresh eye. 

But I can’t lie; even after I made my first visit in several months, I wound up assailing my brain, trying to come up with a few new angles on the remarkable location. I was experiencing the writer’s variety of tunnel vision. I mean, Pilot Rock truly is striking, but what can be said that can’t be seen with one’s eyes? As I came to realize through research and few conversations, the answer is “a whole lot.” 

From far-reaching historical significance, to an abundance of wildlife and recreational opportunities, the stone protrusion really is one-of-a-kind, and the article I put together, which can be found here, turned out to be quite interesting. 

An aspect I came to enjoy most about writing the piece, however, was the information I gathered about geocaching both at Pilot Rock and around the world. Nonetheless, how I was pointed to the idea, as well as the method by which I acquired many of the facts, was even more intriguing. In fact, as a mildly knowledgeable “muggle,” writing a section about geocaching wouldn’t have even crossed my flustered mind if it hadn’t been for a seemingly chance encounter with Trenton, KY resident, Chris Fox, his friend and roommate, Jarrod Weemes, and his faithful canine sidekick, Clifford, during an outing with my family. 

As we came to learn that day, and through subsequent conversations, the trio was in the midst of what would become Chris’s most time-consuming geocache hunt in nearly two years. Needless to say, the wheels of inspiration were already turning from the moment Chris said “geocaching,” and I was lucky enough to have brought a notepad and pen along with me on the trip. I grabbed his email address and sent him a few photos I took of him and Clifford beneath the memorable “alligator rock” near the tower’s summit (see the main photo). 

So, who is Chris and how did he stumble into the vast global community of geocachers? After swapping cell phone numbers with the outgoing gentleman via a few emails, I found out. 

At the age of 57, Chris has located geocaches all over the US and parts of Mexico. From basic, entry-level treasure hunts, to complex and often-times dangerous treks into “no man’s land,” Chris’s geocaching tales are similar to Pilot Rock: one-of-a-kind. 

Raised in Tennessee near Memphis, Chris longed to live in a bigger city once he got older, but soon changed his mind when he realized the drawbacks of a fast-paced, metropolitan lifestyle—mainly the loss of off-the-beaten-path locales. With this in mind, he moved to the smaller town of Trenton where he lives and is employed today. While he fully embraces his fondness for being outdoors, he notes that it wasn’t until early adulthood that he realized he had a true affinity for the natural world.

“This is what I’ve learned about myself,” says Chris. “I used to be a big deer hunter, but I realized that I really didn’t care about killing deer. I had plenty of friends that hunted and all I had to do was call and ask them to bring some meat over. Then I came to understand that my ‘fun’ with deer hunting was actually sitting out in the woods waiting on the deer. I suddenly understood that I would be just as happy with a camera in my hands, so that’s what I started doing. Then, after a while, I figured out that I just like being outside in nature in general. From there, I started hiking and backpacking more and wound up finding out about geocaching through some of my hiking friends.”

As fate would have it, it wasn’t long after learning about geocaching that Chris began traveling the country as a quality engineer for a consulting group, EHD Technologies. From there, it wasn’t hard to replace boring ‘down time’ in one-night hotels with exciting treasure quests.  

To date, Chris has claimed right at 200 geocaches and isn’t looking to slow down if he can help it. 

After learning this, I had a question: how did the geocache at Pilot Rock stack up against the rest? The answer I got was both surprising and informative. 

 “It took me three days to find the cache at Pilot Rock. That’s the longest it’s ever taken me to find one. There have been some that I’ve literally spent two or three hours searching for at other places, though. All of it ties in to how the geocaches are rated,” explains Chris. “If you’re searching for something that’s rated at a difficulty and terrain of ‘one,’ you know you can pretty much get out of the car and find it. If it’s rated at a terrain of ‘four,’ then it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to have to scale a mountain or a cliff or climb into some sludge or something. Then you have to look at the difficulty rating, too. A ‘one’ is right in front of you, but I know of a level ‘5’ cache not too far from here that requires you to dive over 60 feet down into a body of water and into an old airplane. When I saw that listing for the first time, I was like, ‘Man!’”

And sure enough, this underwater “trove” is legitimate—and in Illinois no less—but it’s even more difficult (or fun) to locate than one might first imagine. According to the cache listing, which Chris kindly sent my way via email, the “Frozen Flight Scuba Cache” is ranked at a “five”—the hardest—in both the difficulty and terrain categories. Not only does the hunter have to possess certified scuba diving skills, but they also have to pay a $20 fee to dive in the quarry, must arrive between 10am and 6pm during the week (except on Wednesdays), and may also need to assess an underwater map the business has on-hand. The payoff? Getting a chance to tell the geocaching community that you signed the waterproof logbook while also getting to check out the sunken remains of a pickup truck and a long-defunct Cessna airplane body—what more could you ask for, right? 

Though Chris hasn’t taken his love of geocaching to the murky depths of the “Frozen Flight” cache, he told me that he once braved what could have easily turned into a seriously dangerous situation while geocaching along the US-Mexican border near Juarez. 

“One of the most memorable geocaches I found was when I was in Mexico,” Chris explains. “I got up on Sunday morning when I figured the drug cartel would be asleep and headed out of town. Now, if you’re in Juarez and start driving down toward Chihuahua or whatever, you can go for hours and hours, and once you leave the city, all you can see is more road and desert. Then, in order to get where I was going, you had to turn on Highway 2, and anyone who knows anything about that area knows that that is the last road you want to be on. Everyone knows it’s the road the cartel uses for transporting stuff in and out of Arizona. Well, I’m there at the crack of dawn because I figured that all the cartel guys would all be asleep. Sure enough, they must have been, because I did my thing with no problems whatsoever. When I got back, though, all the people I was with were like, ‘Dude, you have major cojones!’ They were freaking out, because once you leave the city, you have no police protection or anything. I simply told them, ‘There wasn’t a soul out there. I mean, I was out there in the desert all alone.’ And that’s a great story right there. That’s how a lot of geocaches are, too. It’s just as interesting to take the journey and to search an area as it is to find the actual cache.”

What made the find in Mexico even more thrilling to Chris was the fact that what he discovered was the first and only “travel bug” he’s found so far. As he explained, a geocaching travel bug is an item that is both traceable and serialized. Once found, a travel bug—be it a coin, a rock, an actual GPS beacon, or something else—can be moved to a new location, preferably a new state. Knowing this, Chris took the item with him back into Arizona where he hid it for the next adventure seeker to find. 

On that point, Chris says that he has also created four caches of his own both in Trenton and portions of east and west Tennessee, all of which can be found by searching on Geocaching.com

“With geocaching, there are times that you get to see parts of your own backyard, and the world for that matter, that you might not have even known existed,” says Chris. 

When it’s all said and done, isn’t that what it’s all about? Our coordinates crossed, we became friendly acquaintances, we shared our tales, we agreed to meet again another day, and we are now adding new experiences to our interwoven web of existence by moving on. Whether it’s geocaching or simply going for a stroll amongst the vast wilderness of west Kentucky, there’s no telling where your trail will lead. Happy trails, my friends. 

If you’re interested in learning more about geocaching or want to become a new member of the international geocaching community, check out Geocaching.com 

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Main photo by Luke Short

 

 

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