May 26, 2024
My Daddy called me Short Stride. I can still hear him, 'Come on Short Stride! You can do this!' as he encouraged me up and down mountain trails as a little girl. I'm still Short Stride, always at the back of the pack. And then there is my tendency to dawdle over the flora and fauna. This trip was no different.

Annie joined us on our camping trip to Cumberland Gap over Labor Day weekend (part of our “Gappy Trails” series).  While there, we spent a day hiking to two unique formations known as White Rocks and the Sand Cave.


My Daddy called me Short Stride. I can still hear him, ‘Come on Short Stride! You can do this!’ as he encouraged me up and down mountain trails as a little girl. I’m still Short Stride, always at the back of the pack. And then there is my tendency to dawdle over the flora and fauna. This trip was no different. I looked up from admiring some colorful mushroom to catch a flash of pink and hear laughter trickling down the trail where the Trailblazers had just disappeared. I never considered backing down, I would have to run, I was going to see that fabulous Sand Cave in Harlan County, Kentucky.

I rounded the bend and there was Jamie waiting for me. I don’t know if she was the pre-ordained sweeper or if she just knew I needed her. ‘Come on’ she called. We continued the hike together in the misty rain, the sun sparkling thru the tree canopy, lighting the wet rocks and ferns. We came to a cross trail, either down to the Sand Cave or .8 miles up to the White Rocks. Up we went, scambling up and up the a rocky trail, and then there we were, Jamie and I, in the clouds! Standing atop the White Rocks in the clouds, high above Harlan County Kentucky. Amazing!

The Sand Cave was some miles away so we moved on. The trail finally opened into a basin, a rocky creek with white sand everywhere. Ferns and mosses thick and lush, laurels glistening in the sun. The cave towered above us, a water fall racing over the edge. It’s hard to describe the size of this cavern or depth and expanse of the sand. And there we were, Jamie and I, on a beach, sounds of water in a sea of green, on a mountain in Kentucky. Amazing!

We lingered but there was miles to go and it was getting late. I don’t know how these Kentucky mountains manage this, but when we’re supposed to be coming down the mountain, we were still going up. I was tired, and maybe getting a bit cranky…sick of the stupid flora and fauna. But then there was Jamie calling, ‘Come on! It levels off up here!’ Finally, when I’m about to wack some mushrooms with my walking stick, I hear Jamie calling ‘Come on! It’s down hill! I see Kim in the parking lot!’. I lingered just another minute on the trail, I heard my Daddy saying ‘ That’s it Short Stride! I knew you could do it!’


Thanks Annie – we know your Daddy would be proud! 

4 thoughts on “The Sand Cave, Cumberland Gap, Kentucky CVT Labor Day Camping

  1. Great story Annie! You & Jamie we’re the best trailblazers on that hike, walking the most miles. It was a very slippery hike too. So proud of you!!

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