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Cave Run Lake and Laurel Lake in Kentucky

Trip Overview

Escape....the series continues......Cave Run and Laural Lake

Had a three day week-end and think I spent more energy than a man my age is allotted. Deb, Lange and I camped out at Twin Knobs this week-end and had the pleasure of being joined by one of my uncle and aunts, a cousin about 10 years my junior and four children ranging in age from 6 to 12. A good family outing. Deb and I got there after dark Friday, but my other family was already there, so setting up camp was a breeze. We talked and shot the gossip till all but Brett and I had dropped off for the night. The moon was so bright that almost everything was illuminated except the thickest of the forest. A bit after one am, I decided it would be the perfect time for a bike ride and encouraged my cousin to join me. He mentioned something about going to bed. I reminded him that was a good idea for most folks, but him, like me by nature, burned the candle at both ends. He climbed on a bike to join me. We rode the mile or so to the beach. Almost hit the gate at about 20 miles an hour because we did not expect it to be there and be closed. Both of our rear tires were fish tailing from riding the brakes so hard. But we managed to come to a stop and go around it. The beach was beautiful in the moon light with a cool breeze blowing off of it. It reminded us of riding bikes in the Keys three year earlier on an adventure Brett joined me on. It was just too fine to even put in to words. We rode through the stiff, moist sand as slow as we could to make the moment last as long as possible. When we reached the far side of the beach, I pointed to the trail head and told Brett that the trail circled the whole camp area by the water and we should ride that at first light. Should have known better than to suggest we do something "later" in Bretts company. He immediately took off into the woods down the path with me on his tail. This instantly got hairy as you can imagine as we only had slivers of the moon light, and tried to focus on the distinct bareness of the foot wide trail as opposed to the darkness of the surrounding woods. And with Bretts nature, he wanted to ride as fast as possible to take fate right to the edge. And all the while, I'm trying to yell in a whisper that I think we should turn back, that its not a good idea to ride behind all the camps this late at night, and that we were basically being idiots. I don't think he heard a word. I thought about turning back on my own, but I had thoughts of him getting hurt on the trail and needing I peddled on behind him.

Several moments later, to our surprise, we saw flashlights up the trail and young peoples voices. We learned in a few moments that it appeared to be five teenagers, three boys and two girls, led by one of the boys. They did not detect us till we were right up on them. I can only imagine what they thought when they saw two very large shadowy creatures approaching them out of the dark at a good amount of speed. It shook the first guy to the very core. He was so scarred, he couldn't even scream, but made a grunting gurgling sound that would have been a scream if he could. If he were old enough to have a heart attack, he would have dropped dead on the spot. They all five jumped to the side of the trail and one of the girls must of thought we were the law or her parents or some one that knew she was up to no good as she started spewing "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" so many times that we started to wonder what she was so sorry for. But after we got a bit past them, we had to stop and chuckle about how frightened the first guy became upon realizing we were approaching. We also decided it might be too late to be riding bikes on the trail and looked for a way out. We rode from there down to the boat ramp on the opposite end of the camp ground. It was such a grand night. We spent the first ten minutes wading in the bathtub warm water, then just laid on the ramp and watched the few clouds wisp past the bright moon.

In the distance I heard what I though were wind chimes. I told Brett that at two in the morning, the chimes sounded like the greatest music. He commented that it was great music and he loved the sound of it, but it was not chimes. Well, I was sure it was and couldn't imagine what else it could be and asked him what he thought they were. He said they were the sound of rigging bouncing off the aluminum shafts of sailing mast. He said if you listen close enough, you can tell the difference of the rigging that is on the outside of the mast and the ones threaded on the inside. Brett, being a man that has owned two sail boats and still sails a many more at any chance, I took this to be the truth. And they sounded even greater knowing what they were. Great evening. Or morning I should say.

Next (same) morning I got up at daybreak because I was afraid I would miss something. I planned to get into the water early so to have a good long day at it. I didn't want to go alone and Deb felt it was too early, so I tried to talk Brett into joining me. He was game, but being the good Godly man he is, felt a obligation to the children. So with four boats, two men and three children headed out into deep waters toward the dam. Brett and I took solo boats as well as the oldest girl and we put two boys on the ride on top with my son Lange being the muscle man and my younger cousin as the rider. It was around a two mile paddle towards our destination of the dam. It was a great morning out, since we started so early. We got to watch the fog burn off the top of the water and slowly feel the warmth of the day start to come around. Half way out, we slowed and watched all the sail boats come out of harbor and raise their sheets. About half way across the young girl started to complain that about the paddle and her arms and the distance, etc. About three quarters across, I hooked up to her and towed her the rest of the way to the dam. She could have done it herself, but I found it the gentlemanly thing to do. I could use the extra exercise and I just hate to hear whining. The first two reasons were the most important, the last was just for comfort. We got across and had a good hike and look around. Before heading back, we put the girl on the ride on top with the luxury of my son paddling her all the way back and had the youngest boy get into one of the self paddle kayak. He was pretty nervous, as he had never done that before and doubted his skill. Brett said this fear was caused by his mother never letting him take chances and discover his natural talents. For shame. The boy did great. Lange was the Captain of his ship, the only one to power passengers both ways, and Mackinzie was Queen Cleopatra. Brett held lead most of the voyage back and little Lee kept right up behind him. He had great balance and never looked like he would tip over, he had great power in his stroke and was able to make his strokes count for keeping his boat on course. He did far better than my first voyage. I would take Lee out with me any time as a second partner, even though he is only a young boy. He did great, as did everyone...even our Queen Cleopatra as a sultry passenger. When we got back to camp, it was still before noon.

I took the opportunity to make hamburgers for everyone and then suggest the wife and I go out on a solo voyage. She was ready, everyone else had enough and I was just getting warmed up.

Brett had promised all the children that he would teach them how to SCUBA dive, so he loaded up that batch and headed towards the beach with Aunt Bea in tow. After Deb and I got started, she realized that Lange had forgotten to take the water shoes and thought it would be nice if we paddled over two miles off course and took them to him. What I don't have in speed, I make up for in stamina, so I was game to go. When we got over there, Brett, Mackinzie, and Aunt Bea were crashed on the beach and Lange, Lee, and Eta, were in the water. We asked why they weren't SCUBA diving and the boys said Brett said the water was too choppy. We dropped the shoes off and headed for our destination, a private cove on the map about 2 miles across the lake. In this cove, I saw the best wild life I've seen in Kentucky in a long while.

Deb and I had great conversation on our voyage across the open, but enjoyed the calm and privacy much more when entering the cove. As we got farther up the tributary, I was a bit ahead of Deb in my cruising speed. I notices almost at the end, a young lady sitting on the shore bank taking a band out of her hair. We exchanged greetings and I noticed a horse tied to a tree behind her along with 4 other ladies busy tying their horses to trees. I thought that these girls were going swimming. The lady on the shore turned her attention to the other four ladies and didn't notice when Deb slid by and we both headed into a narrower, shaded, private creek. It didn't go much farther till it was too shallow to paddle. So we got out, had a beer, enjoyed the shade, our company and conversation. We could barely see the women through the woods as inch tall peach blurs and I doubt they could see us at all. But we could hear them well in the open wilderness. Things like "well just go in, in your underwear" "I'm not wearing any" and "no one else has seen me naked in years except my husband". All five ended up in the water in their natural form. It tickled Deb and I both to hear their laughter and splashing and obvious enjoyment of the time, location, and each others company. The healthiest one did seem to be so joyful, as to bounce up and down in the water a few times. We didn't really want to embarrass them or ruin their great day, so we hung out as long as we were comfortable. But after awhile, it seemed like time to head back. The ladies were still hooting and hollering in the water when they saw me first come out of the wooded creek area. The healthiest one asked one of the other girls if she thought she should do a little back stroke swimming. Then one of them said "there's a woman". They all got silent besides some giggling and smiling. We passed greetings and paddled on by. After we got by, the wife commented on how strange that they were more alarmed by her than by me. She then added that she was sorry that she ruined the chance for me to witness a "back stroke". Then she couldn't help herself and had to ask THE QUESTION...."what would you have done if I weren't with you???" I told her the exact same thing I did with her..."gave my greetings, and paddle by with a smile on my face you couldn't slap off." I truly enjoy witnessing wild life, I don't try to scare it off and I don't try to join it...I'm just a witness of Gods wonderful work. Another good paddle day.

That evening Deb and I rode our bikes through the whole area including the beach again. Saturday night I was out by 9:30. That's how it is suppose to be.

Next morning, I got up first and fixed breakfast for the whole crowd. Another joy. It seems to be one of the gifts God gave me so that I can give it to others. After eating, we did a slow motion of breaking camp. Actually, Deb, Aunt Bea, and the children went for a walk while Larry, Brett, and I broke our own camps. I am highly organized on these adventures. I don't care how many people, I have to be in charge of all placement and order of gear. Deb and the boys have learned to appreciate this and enjoy some more free time as I truly enjoy controlling this feature. After we were done, Brett decided he needed to now take all the children to learn SCUBA. I felt obligated to join him, by using the truck to transport all gear and people to the dock. It was another good thing and a great way to end the week-end at Cave Run. I enjoyed the dock and helping hold onto sail boats as the folks rigged them. Brett was in the water with all the kids and the gear. They learned how to breathe on the equipment which is a great first. They could have never swam in the area as (like children) they kicked up so much silt by wiggling so much, you couldn't see much around them anyway. But all still had a great time and that's what counted.

We all parted ways and I headed to Berea to clean and stow the gear. Man, I felt whooped, but it was a three day week-end for me and I wanted one more day on the water. I spent 6 hours doing a forty five minute unload trying to reserve energy.

The next day I picked up my new paddle partner and headed to Laural Lake near Corbin. There were two tributaries I wanted to paddle and the total round trip was around 12 miles. This was only the second trip for my new partner as the first one I took him on was only around 5 miles. But he seems like a real trooper and only fell out of the boat once on that trip. That is if you don't count the five times that he rolled back out trying to do a deep water re-entry. Which I've never done myself, but read up on intensely in case I ever had to. I thought he did great.

I told him how far I wanted to go and he was game. In fact, he had declined a volley ball game the day before to save energy for this paddle. So we were almost even for the energy we were going to spend. He was really excited about joining me again and that excited me about the voyage. As I've said, I would much rather go with company, but will go alone as opposed to not going at all. I've been going alone a lot lately, so to find a new partner that is excited about the type of activity is a blessing. And he is a Berea College graduate, so we are on the same page about blessings and Gods handle on things. He is a young entrepreneur, so he is a risk taker by nature anyway. He also has the strength of a young man at only 27. It blows me away that he is young enough to be my son, but doesn't seem to mind going on adventures with some one old enough to be his dad. Great plan this is.

Anyway, we did all the paddling on a mirror smooth lake. But I was reminded why I don't like going on water that is dammed for use. The tributaries were too low to travel as far back as I wanted. But if not for the dam, they would not be boat-able at all. Ying Yang. The reservoir lakes should really be done in the spring or after some heavy rain.

I'm afraid we may have still spent too much energy going in, as my new partner almost lost his cookies towards the end of the first feeder creek. It could also have been from forgetting to bring any solids and only having liquids on the trip. So we took it slower on the way out and into the next feeder. Then we found a rock ledge that would not have been there during full pool. We docked and spent almost and hour just swimming, laying on that slab of stone at waters level and enjoying the warm sun and cool waters. What a great day.

This morning, my staff asked me if I were getting a cold. How do you explain that is how one sounds when they spend more than their allotted energy?? Thank goodness a bug wasn't around, could have got me bad.

My boss went to the wilderness of Alaska this past week. Said she thought of me 500 times during the trip. I appreciate that she knows where my heart is. Then I saw her husband the same day while I was out to lunch. It was the decent thing to have lunch together, but I kept feeling like I should have apologized for occupying so much time of his wife's thoughts during their vacation.

I'm just glad to know I'm not alone. I think of Bobby Kennedy, Jr. a lot too. And I've never met him, though he did come down and talk about the worthlessness of our locks that don't work on the Kentucky River. I hate those docks. My boss said she would like to paddle the Kentucky River some day. I have and do. I hate those locks. Sometimes the "escape" we need is right in our own back yards. As long as we let them be what they were when they were given to us. Sometimes it is not what you are trying to escape from , but what you need to escape to. I need nature. I have the brains and common sense for social order and the associated escalation. But I NEED the nature of things. I need the gift that was given to me. It's the only place I can re-charge my matter how much energy it takes to get there. Is that an oxymoron?


Both lakes have marinas and established camp grounds


Dagger Zedico, Dagger Charleston, Wilderness Montero, Hobie Outback


No permits required, but there are camping fees


Cave Run - Off I 64 near Morehead

Laurel Lake - Off I75 near Corbin

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip