Meet Kentucky's Outdoorsman
I know often times on this blog I like to give my opinion on the great outdoors and the adventures that can be found in the natural world around us... but for once I want to shut my trap and hear someone else's perspective on what makes the outdoors so great. Bowling Green, Kentucky resident - Cory Ramsey has hiked his way into local stardom with TV segments, radio interviews and recently a cover story in Kentucky Living magazine. A good friend of mine, I recently caught up with Cory to chat about his new found fame and take a look inside his passion for Kentucky's natural wonders.
How did you get started in hiking and the outdoors?
I didn't come from a hiking family as much as I came from a hunting family. My granddad was a fisherman and my dad was a duck hunter in his teenage years until he discovered deer hunting about the time I was born. So I grew up around antlers on the wall and November meant deer season every year. We were in the woods ad nauseam. So much, that when I went off to college, I left off of the woods. But something kept calling me back, especially after I got out of college and out into the workplace. Something was missing. I never left the city or the confines of my apartment or job. Picked up John Eldridge's Wild At Heart in 2006 and that's when the outdoors came back to me. I remember buying a fishing pole and license for the first time in years and going to the boat landing on the Barren River just outside of Bowling Green. Felt the ruggedness and have been hooked ever since. From 2006 onward, the hiking became a pastime, and really took hold with a layoff from my job in 2009. The rest is cool history.
What is it about the outdoors and nature that you are so passionate about?
Take Shanty Hollow for example, my favorite spot just north of Bowling Green. It's as if we are emotionally connected. I follow her through her seasons like a parent watches a child grow up. I see the bareness and browness of the late winter turn to a proud flowery spring, a dominating summer, then a vulnerable yet colorful fall give way to bareness again. It's like watching a child go off to college and remembering what it was like as a youngster. In the fall, I still remember her flowers from the past spring. Those first steps in the woods, any woods, are like seeing an old friend from across the room. We simply pick back up from where we left off.
What do you hope people will gain from your experiences and discoveries as an outdoorsman?
That's easy. Way too many publications over emphasize long distance hiking or gear. While all that is fine and good, all that stuff is not necessary to get the feel of ruggedness we are looking for in the first place. Our culture is a "lifestyle" culture. We want a certain look to define us. It trickles into our car, our house, our relationships, and our hobbies. Clothiers and boot suppliers and gear makers try to capitalize on that side of it, whereas I say, "Just get out there." Prepare, yes, but don't stress if you never get around to climbing a mountain or hiking the AT. The important thing for the lifestyle is to just live it.
You recently saw your "hobby" take on a new life with radio and TV interviews and a cover story in Kentucky Living, how is that changing the scope of your travels?
I had the background in broadcasting, having been a radio and TV host from 1999-2002, so it became a natural fit when I began to use those connections and opportunities in 2009. What is evident is the enthusiasm for Kentucky and the outdoors that effortlessly trickles over into the media appearances. I try to keep things fun personally and never want my travels to seem more like a job. If it ever got to that point, I would stop going on the air. The simplicity of the outdoors alone has been enough to keep me happy. All the other is a bonus and pleasure. All in all, the media has helped me to bring attention to our state.
While you have become known as the outdoorsman, part of your travels take the readers into small town Kentucky, talk about some interesting things you've discovered in the Bluegrass?
Ha ha. I need to change that name to Roadtripper. What I discovered as I began traveling to hiking spots in 2009 was that I enjoyed the roadtrip just as much as the hiking itself. I've always loved little town squares like the ones in Boulder, Colorado or Keystone, South Dakota. And everyone loves Gatlinburg. What do we like about those places? The architecture? The people? Knowing we are that close to ruggedness? I think it's a combination of a those things. Kentucky has towns like that, where you can walk around and "feel" like you're out west. And that's a big psychological boost if you can "feel" like you're on vacation if only just an hour or so from home. Maysville, Pikeville, Bardstown, Elkton, those places and a hundred more in Kentucky all feel like you're "out west." Dawson Springs has it right in being the first Trail Town and trying to replicate the AT town of Damascus, Virginia. We're all looking for a cast iron table on a tree lined sidewalk in the shadow of century year old buildings to drink coffee and talk about nothing.
Where do you want to see this passion go in the future?
Sometimes I feel like I should just cash out and quit while I'm ahead. I've been beyond blessed by just going out in the woods and walking around. Honestly, as long as I can visit new places, new dots on the map, and see something there that might have been missed, I'll be happy. I've been fortunate to do some media work, and if that took hold into something more, I'd be excited. I love to write and I love to write about Kentucky. So as long as I can keep doing that while traveling, I'll be happy.
You can pick up a copy of Cory's article which is on news stands now. (I'm not sure if news stands still exist?) You can also visit Cory's blog at www.coryramseyoutdoors.com.