Growing Up in the Gorge

I always get comments from people on how much they love the tattoo on my leg.  The question usually comes up, “where did you get the inspiration?”  My inspiration came directly from my childhood; hiking and exploring every inch of Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge is a vast forest located in east-central Kentucky inside the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Winding roads stretch all throughout this area that lead to some of the best hiking and rock climbing in the country.  The gorge is made up of an intricate canyon system that features an abundance of high sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls, and natural bridges.  There are too many hidden gems to count. 

From a very early age, I remember my Dad taking me hiking and camping in the gorge.  I remember looking out over the awe inspiring mountains and feeling absolutely at peace.  This is a time in my life when none of the outside worldly clamors mattered.  It was just me, my family, and nature.  During these camping trips I learned about the different species of trees, plants, and animals.  I also learned how to prepare for anything and everything that could occur. This is probably one of the reasons that a career as an emergency nurse looked so attractive;  because let me tell you, when I’m at work I’m prepared for anything! 

As I got older I remember having birthday parties in the gorge; My 13th birthday in particular stands out. My mom rented out a cabin for me and all of my friends.  It was a blast!  We spent the days hiking and adventuring over naturally formed rock bridges, swimming in roaring waterfalls (if you want to head down an amazing trail off the beaten path that leads to a beautiful waterfall, don’t miss Copperas Creek), and swinging off of rope swings into creeks. Our nights were spent around campfires, trying to scare the hell out of each other.

As a teenager, I began to take trips to the gorge with a new purpose in mind.  At this point I had hiked and seen many of the awesome features that the gorge provides, I was also exposed to an activity in the gorge that has always peaked my interest, rock climbing. I had spent my childhood admiring climbers – the courage, the exhilaration, it was inspiring; this is where I learned to repel and rock climb.

People come from all over to experience the excellent climbing spots in the gorge.  Most of my climbing was spent in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP).  This area is owned and maintained by the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition.  There’s an array of different climbing routes and climbers, from all different experience levels.  My climbing though, well, that’s something to be admired from a distance. 

My days in the gorge now are spent with my man, Matt.  I love showing him my favorite spots and sharing the nostalgia that it brings.  Even after all these years of exploring Red River Gorge, Matt has still found a way to surprise me with trails and hidden gems that I have never seen.  Our last camping trip landed us at the top of Cloud Splitter; one of the most beautiful camping spots I’ve ever seen. 

My black tattoo on my left shin starts about 3 inches above my ankle with a dark black solid line.  This leads into an outline of a forest made up evergreen trees that extend up my leg with slight shades of green.  My inspiration for this tattoo came from my deep love of the outdoors in places like the gorge.  This tattoo is way to keep me grounded to what is important in life.  To let go of all of the unimportant daily grind that consumes us.  It serves as a reminder to always be myself and to love what God has put in my life.  It reminds me of my time spent in the gorge.