The climbers are back and already traveling down into the Pendergrass-Murray and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve areas for hiking and rock climbing. After a busy fall 2014 along with wild winter storms and now all the rain, today was the first day I was able to get down there to check on the roads and the Tourism Commission Kiosks located in the parking areas of both preserves. It was not safe to go alone so I asked someone from the Lee County Rescue Squad to accompany me. Don and I left out this morning in the Jeep. Here is the summary of the road conditions for anyone wanting to go down into the PMRP or MFRP this weekend. These road conditions were reported to the Lee County Road Department. They have a list of roads to work on from the recent storms and not much can be done until the water recedes so please be patient and cautious if you are planning to climb in the Southern Red River Gorge Region.
Bald Rock Road
As you turn off of HWY 52 and onto Bald Rock Road there are a few puddles which are really fun to deliberately hit in the jeep. We meet a few nice people at the top of Lode Hill who had decided not to take their vehicles down. Because I don't want to torture the breaks, I drop the Jeep into 4wd Low Range and we start down the hill. Immediately there are ruts and washouts from the rain over the last few storm systems, but they are easily avoidable along the right side of the road. Around the second curve you then hit some washboarding and road dimples where cars had spun their way back up the hill. Once you get past the second curve then it is much better. Balk Rock Road travels parallel to a stream which had flooded its banks causing water to flow over the road. There is one bad spot just past the Sore Hill footbridge. Just past that is a culvert that is exposed from where the creek washed away the soil. There is another washout at the creekcrossing to the Flat Holler Parking Lot. A sinkhole in the road around 3 to 4 foot diameter caused by the creek. Please do not park in the Flat Holler Parking Lot just in case more of the road washes away and you become stranded. The road is pretty rough with rocks and puddles, but passable to the Bob Marley/Drive By parking lot. If you are going to Sore Heal, I'd recommend parking on the bottom and hiking up. Don and I took the jeep up the road and once we passed the oil containers and turned the curve there was a few monstrous mud puddles that looked really deep. We could see that a few vehicles had went though but we didn't continue on that road. The road to Sore Hill is not a county road but an oil service road, therefore most of the roads are rough that branch off of the main Bald Rock Road.
Turning off HWY 11 onto Fixer Road toward Coal Bank is a good blacktop road that turns to gravel. It is a well maintained gravel road with just a few rough places from all the rain so be careful when passing cars. There is a small secant of road marked with caution cones to warn drivers of the washed away section of road. This section is passable on the right side. Turning off the main road and toward the Coal Bank Parking Lot, there is more ruts and washouts. 4WD recommended as some of the ruts are pretty wide.
Hell Creek Road/Miller Creek Road
If you plan on going to the Miller Fork Recreational Preserve then DON'T GO. First there is a huge white pine tree across there road about 2/3rds up. Even in order to reach the tree you have to go though flooded road, large mud holes, and wash away areas that are dangerous to your vehicle. The photos in the slideshow below does not do it justice as to the depth of the creek and ruts. Also Don and I believe that straight-line winds or even a tornado cause trees to be twisted off and uprooted on the left side of the creek. There was a massive storm last night with the possibility of tornado activity. If you would like to do some clean up on this road this weekend when the sun comes out, please enter by Shoemaker Ridge Ridge Road side as there is a raging creek on the main road that makes is inaccessible from the Tip Top Road side, at lease until the water recedes.
Weather Forecast : From the National Weather Service, Beattyville, KY
Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59. South southwest wind 3 to 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 9am. Partly sunny, with a high near 83. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.
Thursday Night: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2am. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Low around 61. South southwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Friday: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before noon. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. High near 68. Light and variable wind becoming west 5 to 8 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 44. West northwest wind 3 to 7 mph.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 65.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 43.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 74.
Sunday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.