Recharging the Creative Battery with a Trip to Kentucky

I almost titled this blog post "Kentucky Revisited: This Time It's Personal." I say it's personal because last year I spent about two weeks in Kentucky's Red River Gorge shooting rock climbers and coordinating interviews for the Ascending India project. The entire time I was there, I got to watch athletes make attempts on gorgeous climbs. My partner Jakob and I were lucky to squeeze in just one or two routes early in the trip.

So this year, I decided to return to the area, but to leave my camera in the bag and focus on climbing. This was an easy decision to make, but once there, was hard to commit to. I think out of about 7 days of climbing, I only got out my camera twice, which is pretty good.

Click to enlarge. Me catching a breather on Banshee. Photo by Jakob Skogheim

It cannot be understated how important it is to take a mental break from the rigors of a daily work schedule. Just like your body will wear down after several days of tough exercise, your brain can be affected similarly if it's all work and no play. I've been busy with shoots for Mesa Verde Country and writing for Fstoppers, but honestly just dealing with life in a small town and working from home had started to drag a little bit. A change of scenery was definitely in order.

Click to enlarge.  Jennifer and I at the Devil's Canyon Overlook. Photo by Jakob Skogheim

After flying back to Michigan, I borrowed my dad's truck, grabbed a few friends, and hit the road to Kentucky. Climbing aside, getting to spend time with my good friends from Michigan was worth the trip alone.

Over the next 7 days, we would hit a bunch of the classic 5.10-5.12 routes in the Red, including Twinkie, Amarillo Sunset, Breakfast Burrito, Banshee, and others. Rain didn't keep us away too much, we just climbed overhung jug hauls!

Click to enlarge. Me projecting the most insanely overhung climb I've ever been on, Twinkie. Photo by Jakob Skogheim

As the week came to a close, we checked out Rocktoberfest where we won some swag, donated some money to the Access Fund and RRGCC, and watched some naked people jump in a pond. Good times.

There is so much amazing climbing there, I can see why some people have come to visit and never left. Aaron Brouwer from the Rockhouse in particular has an interesting story in that he and his wife were accomplished photographers out of Chicago, but decided to move to Kentucky to raise their child there (and, well, because the climbing is awesome!)

Click to enlarge. Me leading up Oompa. Photo by Jakob Skogheim

That week was a like a booster shot for me. When it was all over, I jumped on a plane and spent the next week working in St. Louis, but that's a topic for another blog. Point is, on that plane ride back to CO, I couldn't help but think about how much I missed my friends, going on fun trips, and spending time in cities. I need to keep on working on my projects locally, but at the same time stay focused on finding a way to create a bridge that will lead me to the next part of my journey. Already looking forward to my next trip to the Red– I will return!

Major kudos for my buddy Jakob Skogheim who got some amazing shots of me climbing!!

Click to enlarge. Me leading up Amarillo Sunset. Photo by Jakob Skogheim