Doctari, his son, Brad, and I went for an overnight at the Red River Gorge. We hiked in on Bison Way Trail and then on to the Sheltowee Trace to an unofficial, unmarked trail known as the Indian Staircase (IS). The IS was supposedly used by the Adena Indians over 1700 years ago and consists of a rock wall with hand and foot indentions scooped out of the rock. When first reading about the area I was skeptical that the IS could be climbed with a pack on but it turned out not to be that difficult of a climb. We actually dropped our packs at the base of the IS, climbed to the top, and then climbed back down, retreived our packs, and climbed back up a second time. Is way fairly easy even for someone like me who is scared of heights.
The top of IS gave amazing views of the surrounding area. The top was flat and a hammock hangers dream. Lots of perfectly spaced trees and 3-4 established sites with fire rings (that we saw).
Doctari starting up the staircase:
Doctari and his son about 3/4 the way up(You can see the hand/foot hold in lower right of pic):
View from top of IS:
Shots of our camp:
We followed the trail to a HUGE rock shelter about .2 of a mile from the top:
The trail continued on a very narrow path on the surrounding cliffs. It was kinda unnerving to have a shear drop on one side and a rock wall on the other. The trail later connected again with the Sheltowee Trace and we made our way back down from the ridge, passing several cool rock houses, and arches, and a couple of domes. It was a great trip. The weather was really warm and I slept in just shorts and no top quilt until about 3:00 am. After that I only covered my legs to keep the chill off. I used my Speer SnugFit for the first time although I didn't really need it. I did figure out how to vent the SnugFit for warmer nights.
You can see more pics in this gallery.
I would really like to plan a gathering in this area at some point. As stated in another thread there is a lot of trash at the top and I think it would be nice to try and clean up the area a little bit by everyone carrying some trash down as they leave. It was also sad that people had carved their initials, crude pictures, an just generally defaced the soft sandstone near the top. It pisses me off that some people have no respect for the natural beauty of the spot and think it looks better with a pot leaf etched in the rock and stupid crap like "So-n-so Wuz Here"