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2003 Polar Bear at Red River Gorge

The 03' Polar Bears: Greg Fante, Mark Thieman, Greg Shade, David "Fudd" Albright, Jim O'Toole, Paul Darst, Steve Brown, Pat Devore, Mike Broderick, Rick Walters, and Pete Ramsey.

This years Polar Bear camping destination was the Red River Gorge, located in the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky. We arrived on Friday night and camped off Chimney Top Road near Half Moon Rock.

Friday night brought snow and temperatures in the single digits. The always resourceful Jimmy O'toole had the foresight (and wheel barrel) to bring four wheel barrel loads of wood to keep us toasty. We enjoyed the fire and noticed it was damn cold when you walked away from it. Cigars, cigarettes, and a few libations made for a great evening of low stress activity.

Saturday brought sunny skies and the rest of the Polar Bears. After a variety of breakfast food sharing, we day hiked to Chimney Top and Princess Arch. Those who had never been to the Gorge where amazed by these beautiful examples of diverse geology special to the Red River Gorge. After hiking the high ground, we headed down to Rock Bridge. This was simply magnificent. The snow drenched Rhododendrons and ice draped rock houses where amazing. The frozen falls and snow covered arch where the payoff for the group.

The aroma of steak, gumbo, chili and more filled the air around our campsite Saturday night. Temperatures hovered around 10º that night, just right for a polar bear. In celebration of 15 years of Polar Bear outings, Greg "Papa Bear" Shade had a commemorative patch made and presented it to the group. Mike Broderick brought his telescope and the clear skies enabled the Polar Bears to add astronomy to their experiences, with views of Saturn, Jupiter and a quarter moon.

Steve Brown won the award for newest gear, having completely outfitted himself after just one previous backpacking experience. I think he's on to something. High tech was also prevalent this year, with many Polar Bears sporting digital cameras to document the occasion.

The two rookies, Steve and Paul, made it through initiation with little protest. Rick seemed to enjoy himself the best.

Polar Bear 2003 was rated by all to be the best polar bear yet. Here's to another successful Polar Bear!

Click here for some photos taken by the Polar Bears.
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