The Sheltowee Trace Association
A 501c(3) non-profit formed to protect, preserve and promote the Sheltowee Trace National Recreational Trail as a significant national resource for the enjoyment of hikers, bikers and equestrians, and for the value that wild and scenic lands provide to all people.
Discover and Enjoy Kentucky's Long Trail
Sheltowee Trace Association, 63 Burtonville Rd., Tollesboro, Ky. 41189 Phone: 606-584-7744
Hikers Warm-Up on the Sheltowee Trace into Morehead
by: Karen Weber
As the sun rose last Saturday over the northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace in Rowan County, silhouettes of barren tree tops encrusted with ice stood like a battalion of men with burr haircuts waiting for roll-call in the frigid morning air. Six men and one woman, who’d braved the freezing night temps, emerged from their tents, as Steve Barbour, Executive Director of the Sheltowee Trace Association, stopped by the northern terminus to check in the first of 66 hikers who’d registered for the 26 mile weekend hike. This was the launch point for the 2nd “End to End” thru-hike of the Sheltowee Trace, planned for January through November of 2013. Participants in this year’s challenge included Kentucky residents from various parts of the state, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana, inspired by the first class of STA Hiker Challenge participants who’d completed the 282 miles between January and October of 2012.
Three of the 52 participants showing up for the hike on a cold Saturday morning, included Bob Pritchard and Scott Templeton of Morehead, and Curt Thomas of Crossville, Tennessee---veteran hikers who would volunteer time and encouragement to a new generation of Sheltowee Trace hikers, assembling at the Perkins Center off Rt. 32. Shuttle buses from the Morehead United Methodist Church and the Morehead Conference Center waited with engines warming to transportation the enthusiastic group to the northern terminus as the early morning air warmed. The hikers ranged in age from 68 to 12 years old. Some came with a wealth of outdoor recreation experience, while others admitted to being newbies in the life of outdoor adventures.
Fortified by multiple layers of clothing, sturdy footwear, and an eagerness akin to race horses preparing to break-gate, three casually arranged groups stepped out onto the Sheltowee Trace by mid-morning , staggered to keep hikers a safe distance apart, and give individuals time to set their own pace as they headed south. Due to an extreme cold weather forecast, a support vehicle was available to transport and deliver “5 lb./person” drops of gear and water re-supplies throughout the two day challenge.
After a 12 mile day on Saturday, some of the newcomers had their backpacks “shaken down” and reassessed to minimize pack-weight for easier trekking on Sunday. Out of the 52 who began the hike and crossed over into Holly Fork to camp overnight in tents or hammocks, 42 packed their bags out on Sunday morning for a 14 mile hike into Morehead where the trail crosses Rt. 32 across from the Perkins Center.
Among those braving the newly blazed trail, Lee Colton, a former Peace Corp worker in South America with stories to tell about summiting volcano rims, and section hiking the Appalachian Trail, among others across the United States, told of bumping into a friend in the store who challenged him to hike the Sheltowee Trace with the 2013 Hiker Challenge team.
Patti Winford of Independence, KY was one of many women who answered the challenge this year. As a section hiker of the Sheltowee in 2012 during some of the hottest days of summer, she decided to venture out in cooler weather, putting physical-conditioning gained from rock climbing and ice-mountain climbing to work.
Home-school mom, Arlene Davidson, from Sizerock, KY, brought her twin boys along with new packs and winter gear, after participating in a beginner’s hike last fall around the Cave Run section of the Sheltowee Trace.
A family of five stuck together for the first twelve miles on Saturday, before overloaded packs prompted three to leave the next 14 miles to mother, Nena Butler and her 14 year old daughter, Lacey. This mother-daughter team finished the 26 mile weekend on Sunday in the middle of the pack, after an exceptional example of persistence made their first hike a memorable success.
Maintaining a 2.8 mile per hour pace throughout the weekend, Jesse Church of Manchester, KY finished the January Hiker Challenge section of the Sheltowee Trace on Sunday, arriving at the Perkins Center parking lot well before the remaining 41 hikers who were pushing through to the finish. When asked about his motivation, he confessed to a love of the outdoors and “seeing things half the world doesn’t even know about.” Purposefully immersing himself in the culture and heritage of places he hikes, Jesse added, “It’s an honor to walk where history happened. We have a responsibility to keep this (The Sheltowee Trace) up and going, so our children can see what’s been preserved for us to enjoy.”
Concerning the weather variable, Steve Barbour, Executive Director of the Sheltowee Association offered: “It was 10 to 15 degrees above projected temperatures for the weekend, so it helped make this a good first experience of the year for all of those participating.” Despite sore muscles, a few blisters, and hiker fatigue being taken home as souvenirs, smiles could be seen on the faces of those whose last climb up the Perkins Center hill took them around a corner in view of their rides home. When asked if they’d do it again, most said they’d be back for the next leg of the 2013 STA Hiker Challenge in February….after they’d had a chance to recover.
Office of the Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LIVINGSTON, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced a new program to help small communities seeking to take advantage of adventure tourism opportunities in their area.
“Trail Towns is a designation and assistance program that will help these communities connect the dots for travelers and guide them to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services,” Gov. Beshear said. “The Trail Towns program will become a major part of our adventure tourism effort and will help communities improve their tourism economy. This will mean more jobs and businesses for small communities and more tourism opportunities for the entire state.”
More than 30 communities have started the application process to become a Trail Town and are working with the Office of Adventure Tourism in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear made the announcement in Livingston, a Rockcastle County community that is seeking to become a Trail Town.
“It’s great to see so many communities interested in trails and adventure tourism,” said Mrs. Beshear. “It’s my hope that Trail Towns will help these communities benefit from the great tourism opportunities we already have.”
Trail Towns are communities along long distance trails, an extensive trail system or a river used for canoeing and kayaking. Livingston is near the Sheltowee Trace in the Daniel Boone National Forest and is along the Rockcastle River. There’s already a canoe outfitter, airboat rides, horse camp and bicycle rental shop in the area, and the community is making plans to improve signage to help guide visitors.
“The most important part of Trail Towns is that each community decides what approaches it wants to take to tie in the trail system and other services that trail users need,” Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow said. “These communities can work together and share ideas while at the same time they develop their downtowns and Main Streets.”
Joining the Governor, First Lady and Secretary Sparrow were representatives from communities interested in becoming a Trail Town.
The Office of Adventure Tourism will provide guidance to interested communities on issues such as trail development and signage, and how other communities have been successful by linking trails and services.
Once a community receives the Trail Town certification, the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Department of Travel and Tourism and Office of Adventure Tourism will help promote and market these communities and the services being offered. They will be highlighted on maps, websites, visitor’s guides and other state promotional material.
For more information about Trail Towns and adventure tourism in Kentucky, visit www.kentuckytourism.com
Follow Governor Beshear on Twitter @Govstevebeshear, read the Governor’s personal notes on his blog at http://governor.ky.gov/blog, and view his video commentaries at http://www.youtube.com/governorbeshear.
Below is a list of trail town applicants and partners:
Kentucky Trail Town Applicants
Trail Town partners
Brushy Fork Institute
Kentucky Arts Council
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Kentucky Division of Forestry
Kentucky Heritage Council
Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism
Kentucky Recreational Trail Authority
Kentucky State Parks
Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
Tour Southern & Eastern Kentucky
The Sheltowee Trace Association
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Forest Service
Spot-lighting Eastern Kentucky's natural resources and potentials, a recent gathering of thirty outdoor-recreation enthusiasts and elected officials, met to discuss ideas and strategies for advancing Adventure-Tourism opportunities in the region. Organized by prominent Carter County horseman and owner of Smokey Valley Ventures, LLC, Dr. Robert Coleman, in conjunction with state park and tourism officials, hosted the Eastern Kentucky Trails Conference at Carter Caves State Park lodge. Stormy conditions outside the meeting room were in sharp contrast to the cooperation of participants determined to find common grounds and so move shared visions closer to reality. Attendees agreed that developing sustainable, interconnecting trails throughout the region would benefit not only eastern KY counties, but essentially fuel a state wide revival wherein recreational attractions could be enjoyed by responsible and conservation-minded uses of our state parks , national forests. Projections are that in so doing, local commerce would also be revitalized.
In attendance was Kentucky's 1st Lady, Jane Beshear, a dedicated supporter of recreational trails throughout the state. Also in attendance were:
Senator Robin Webb (District 18), Representative Jill York (House Distr. 96 - Lewis and Carter counties), Judge Exec. J.D. Trimball from Menifee County, and Judge Exec. for Lewis County, Thomas Massie. Planners and hosts of well known Kentucky tourism events, along with trail-users from hiking, cycling, and horseback-riding groups contributed to the dialogue. Among them were: Kirk Collier (President of The Rough Riders Saddle Club), Patrick Collins (Board Member of the Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority), and Steve Barbour (Executive Director for The Sheltowee Trace Association & The Jenny Wiley Trail Conference).
Topics of discussion included initiatives to restore, oversee, and promote the development of specific trails such as the Sheltowee Trace, the Jenny Wiley, the Simon Kenton, and the Michael Tygart Trails. Elaborating on extensive trail systems already existing in state parks and national forests of Kentucky, it was acknowledged that interconnecting trails would create a unique state-line-to-state-line system attracting out-of-state adventure seekers, as well as native Kentuckians. This kind of magnet would then become a favorable host for private businesses extending their services to visitors.
Concerns from land owners where trails might cross private property provoked extensive comments. Suggestions were made that land owners might be more cooperative if some form of liability coverage was offered for trail right-of-ways. They might also specify which user groups they would or would not prefer crossing their property. It was agreed that educating the public on the economic advantages and long term benefits of providing recreational trails for different user groups would be helpful.
Everyone agreed this could not be just another meeting without follow-thru. Kentucky's "Unbridled Spirit" proclamation challenges every Kentuckian to do something, however large or small, to breathe new life into such projects. As a word of encouragement, Steve Barbour of The Sheltowee Trace Association offered: "Out on the trail you come to realize you can do a lot more with a little than you ever thought possible. When volunteers with the will to 'get 'r done' come together and accomplish even small tasks, there's a great feeling of accomplishment, especially when you know others will benefit down the road....or rather, on the trail and beyond". Volunteers with the Sheltowee Trace Association are a 'boots to the ground' gang, according to Barbour. Judge Executive Thomas Massie of Lewis County added that he looks at trail development from "an ecumenical" stand-point. Developing all kinds of recreational trails and opportunities is an economic asset we can't afford to neglect. And as Judge Exec. J.D. Trimball of Menefee County reminded everyone present: "Our Kentucky state flag motto says it all: 'United We Stand, Divided We Fall'."
Cheered on by 1st Lady Jane Beshear, followed by the expressed interest and support of Senate and House officials Robin Webb and Jill York, the "stars aligning" afternoon came to a conclusion as participants headed out to see the newly finished Carter Caves Horse Camp accommodations. Just the thing everyone needed to see--a vision fulfilled--for those who still dare to dream, believe, and put their hands to the plow....or shovel and weed-whacker, as the case may be.
To learn more about this and other projects intended to provide recreational opportunities within our state and region go to: GetOutKY.com or SheltoweeTrace.org
(Karen Weber is a free-lance writer and scenic photographer living in Lewis County, KY)