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Timmon's is a Double Arch
Clifty Wilderness
December 17, 2004

- David Fisher

On Friday, December 17 I headed to the Clifty Wilderness in search of Timmon's Arch. Armed with excellent directions from Timbros, a topo and a compass, I was confident of success. This was an open call for all who visited the message board to join in. Sadly, as with most of my adventures, it ended up being a solo journey. I'm sure that going on a weekday has a lot to do with that. Well, that or I'm going to have to switch deodorants.

I left the Wildcat trail-head at 8:05 a.m. and it was 27 degrees. Up top, I had three layers of polypropylene and a jacket, a balaclava and my Tilley hat. My lower extremities consisted of bicycling tights, cargo pants and of course my trusty gaiters. Throw in a couple hiking poles, day pack with an extra pair of boots for creek crossing, 50 ft of rope for whatever might happen, camera equipment and I was ready to go.

I get a kick out of the poster at the Wildcat trail-head that reads "Wilderness-We do not guarantee your enjoyment or your return " (picture 1). In June 2003 I missed this turnoff to the left which now has a sign (picture 2). Kudos to the guys in the forestry dept. for putting this up. Shortly afterwards I came to the fork in the trail. (Picture 3) Left is the way to go, right takes you up a hill to a private family cemetery. The trail down Wildcat from the ridge is as good as any in the gorge. Watch out for the icicles "They have been known to kill people" (picture 4).

Forty minutes after I started, I was at the intersection of Wildcat and Swift Camp. The sign is a little worn. (picture 5). Within minutes I crossed Wildcat Creek. Wildcat is different from most creeks. It meanders between and underneath small boulders as it winds its way down to Swift Camp Creek. Be careful on the trail next to Wildcat because some areas have washed out. Just typical Swift Camp Creek trail if you ask me. The trail then starts to parallel Swift Camp Creek again. As it does it's time to turn off trail to the creek (picture 6).

This looks like a great place to cross the creek (picture 7). I opted not to change the boots and just go for it. Crossing that log was a work of art. Although out of the water it was still covered with ice most of the way. At times I looked like the character "Tucker" in the move "There's Something About Mary" after he dropped his keys. I wish someone had been there to cam-cord it. We all could have a great laugh watching it. Fortunately I made it high and dry. It was time to start up the hill to the ridge top.

As I made my way through the rhodo thickets, I pondered how hard this would be in the summertime. It was difficult at times getting through the brush. I then came to a wall of rock. It looked like a great time to go to the left (picture 8). After reaching the end of the wall I scrambled up a small ledge and continued upwards. As the rhodo ended I noticed a defined animal path to the top of the narrow ridge. At the top I turned left. All along my climb up the ridge I marked my way with trail tape only to remove it on my return trip. My past experience at bushwhacking taught me that one rhodo bush looks just like all the others. I also wanted to leave everything as I had found it.

Shortly after I was on the ridge top I found Timmon's Arch. I was very excited to have found it on the first try. I did not know that it was a double arch. Finding that out was an added bonus. My entire trip here which including hiking, picture taking, creek crossing and bushwhacking took only 1 hour and 20 minutes. I took lots of pictures of the arch (pictures 9-11) I enjoyed a Clif bar while there. I must have stayed there for 40 minutes admiring the beauty of the area and taking a sniff around the surrounding area.

My trip back to the Wildcat trail head only took an hour. I didn't stop to take any pictures. I had more fish to fry that day and made my way over to Bison trail (picture 12). I wanted to photograph Adena Arch.

Along Bison way I was escorted by a couple of slap-happy Labs. They were with a couple of ladies from the Buckeye State who were headed up Sheltowee with a total of 4 dogs. Along the way I had it in my mind to make a quick trip and head over to Natural Bridge's Hemlock Lodge for lunch. As I passed the first un-official trail to the Indian Staircase I pondered the idea of skipping said lunch and climbing the staircase instead. At the second trail up it was too much to resist (picture 13). I really wanted to climb...so I did. As I reached the Staircase a man and his young daughter were going up a very steep rock to start the staircase. He was up and she was frozen in the middle of the climb. I got beneath her and cupped her shoe in my hand and between the two of us we "got er done ". They were very friendly and lived nearby.

I explained that I had to be back in Louisville by 4 pm so I went on ahead. I of course took the trail that went through the Rock House shelter and along the ridge to the other side. I connected with the Sheltowee and turned left. As the Sheltowee hair-pinned towards Indian Arch I instead followed the ridge line straight ahead for about 10 minutes to Adena arch. I of course took some pictures there (pictures 14-15).

The last time I was up here in October I noticed bear scat on the trail. This time I was treated to another wildlife experience. I heard the sound of something running in a 1-2-3-4 pattern. I knew it couldn't be a bear because it wasn't a crashing sound. It sounded like the running pattern of a house cat I used to have. I turned quickly and saw my first bobcat. He was running away and I took off after him. It's fortunate for me that I did not catch up to him. What was I thinking? Of course my camera was sacked away in my pack. My heart was racing pretty fast at this point. Shortly afterwards I met up again with the local man and his daughter. I told them about the bobcat. They said they had spotted a couple of deer just above the staircase.

After a quick trip to Indian arch (picture 16), I headed back to my car. It was 1:45 pm and I had gotten a lot done that day. I settled for the DQ in Stanton on my way back home to Louisville. It wasn't a NBSRP buffet, but for road food it wasn't bad at all. It's 3:50pm and I'm back home getting a hot shower and itching to go back for more adventure. And when I do it...I'll be here to tell you about it.

(1) Wilderness

Wildcat Trail Sign
(2) Wildcat Trail Sign

Fork in the trail
(3) Fork

Hanging Ice
(4) Hanging Ice

(5) Swift Camp Creek
Trail Sign

Off Trail
(6) Heading Off Trail

Swift Camp Creek
(7) Swift Camp Creek

Wall of Rock
(8) Wall of Rock

Timmon's Arch
(9) Timmon's Arch

Timmon's Arch
(10) Timmon's Arch

(11) Under Timmon's Arch

Bison Way Trail
(12) Bison Way Trail

(13) Trail

Adena Arch
(14) Adena Arch

Adena Arch
(15) Adena Arch

Indian Arch
(16) Indian Arch

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