Good time to go take a hike

Marjorie Appelman

			
				                                Water finds its way through the stone at Smoky Bridge in Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.

Water finds its way through the stone at Smoky Bridge in Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.

<p>An up-close look at Carter Caves State Resort Park’s Smoky Bridge is the best way to appreciate it.</p>

An up-close look at Carter Caves State Resort Park’s Smoky Bridge is the best way to appreciate it.

<p>Hiking the trails at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill allows one to get close to nature.</p>

Hiking the trails at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill allows one to get close to nature.

<p>Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill provides ample room for exploration.</p>

Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill provides ample room for exploration.

<p>Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill provides ample room for exploration.</p>

Smoky Bridge at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill provides ample room for exploration.

<p>Smoky Valley Lake is one of the features of Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.</p>

Smoky Valley Lake is one of the features of Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.

Temperatures in the seventies, low humidity and a blue sky dotted with slowly drifting clouds: the perfect day for a hike.

Another hike.

Hikes, as it turns out, have defined 2020 travel for my husband and me.

Naturally, cancelling (well, hopefully just postponing) the travel plans we’d had on the books for over a year brought with it understandable disappointment. However, we responded like so many others this year: we looked for ways to make the most of the situation.

We hiked. A lot.

We visited the nearby Cummins Nature Preserve and Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park. We drove a bit to explore a number of trails in Red River Gorge, in Northern Kentucky and in Pennsylvania when we assisted our oldest son in his move there.

We also trekked across a number of trails at Carter Caves Resort Park, including the trail highlighting the Smoky and Natural Bridges. For this particular outing, our three sons were also around.

After consulting and agreeing upon which trail to take, we set off, but not before a deer caught our eye. We paused with the intention of resuming the hike once the deer ran away. But apparently, we hadn’t startled it. Not at all concerned about us, it made no move to leave. So, onward we went.

Lacing through the trees and small brush, we made our way along the level, soft-dirt path through the forest. Before long, we reached a wooden overlook. Below us, a handful of hikers walked about the area below. They’d reached the location, it appeared, by descending a long flight of stairs visible to our left.

Not long after we left the overlook to rejoin the path, we reached the top of those stairs, which seemed much more imposing once we contemplated our own downward climb. At the bottom, though, we seemed to enter a different world.

Along the commanding wall of stone, we navigated to our left to investigate the small stream of water cascading down its surface. Even further left was the small mouth of a cave.

And upon turning around from that vantage point, we could best see the natural arch we knew would be the highlight of the hike.

But it would also demand further exploration. Dwarfed by the magnitude of the stone arch, we were overcome with humility and a renewed appreciation for the work of God.

2020 certainly has presented its challenges. But having the opportunity to explore nature has been such a blessing. Getting to share time outdoors with family has only enriched the experience.

And when reflecting upon the many blessings for which I am most grateful, especially this time of year, family and travel (hiking included) come to mind.

And for those richest of blessings, I am so grateful.

(Note: Marjorie Appelman is an English, communications and journalism teacher at Mason County High School and co-founder of Tales from the Trip, which is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She can be reached at [email protected].)


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