One of the aspects of Kentucky which I particularly love is that, in general, people are still able to swim, fish, climb in the craziest spots, not separated by fences or CYA legalese signs posted all over. It gives the state a bit of a Darwinian feel - as in Darwin Awards. And there is no place where this is more obvious than Natural Bridge.
As you can see in this photo, Hazel is standing by a sheer dropoff with no guardrail, in front of the bridge we'd crossed, moments before, also with no guardrail (after climbing some stairs in a spot aptly described as "Fat Man's Misery").
I wasn't ready for any rock-climbing or anything like that (frankly, some of the stairs on one trail terrified me, though that was partly because they were rain-slick rather than because they were actually all that scary. But this was a pretty good thrill, even on a misty day, when I could as easily imagine thousands of feet empty below me as hundreds, or tens.
It's been a good summer for scenery, and adventure, and confidence-building. Between scary steep scree en route to the Burgess Shale, high winds on bear-laden mountains at Lake Louise, and finally this last jaunt at Natural Bridge among steep rocks and by a copperhead (Brian bravely took this photo; I was long gone up the trail after a quick look). Of course, none of this adventure kept me from my standard week-before-classes nightmares (forgetting to go teach class, cartoons infecting my powerpoint slides), but maybe it just help keep us all agile, young and old alike.
I like to think that after facing scenery like this, mean girls and school bullies, assignments and assemblies all seem smaller. If you've walked up to a sheer cliff face and peeked over, just to see the view, surely anything that happens at school is just a proverbial walk in the park.