Catherine's Bridge

Drake's Creek at Katherine's Bridge

"The earth remembers all those that have walked upon her." 
~ Native American Proverb

About five or six years ago, I was in Bowling Green with a best and dearest friend of mine when he told me he had someplace to show me.  He had been to college at Western Kentucky University back in the day and had more local haunts than you could shake a stick at.  I laughed and agreed, knowing wherever we were going would have a good story ("There I was, J.B., minding my own business...").  I had no idea this one would work it's way into me the way it did.

Trail leading to Katherine's Bridge
Down at the end of Middle Bridge Stub Road in Bowling Green, KY there is a dirt track with a large sign posted at the end of it saying, "Private property No Trespassing".  Behind it is a small paved trail hiding behind foliage and branches leading down a hill.  You would never know it was there if you weren't looking for it.  The good girl in me feels totally nervous walking that path every time I do it.  I am always looking for someone to tell me to get out of there to the sound of a bullet being racked in a shot gun.  I'm sure that is part of the fun.  That and all of the skin prickling looking-for-someone-watching-us-in-the-woods vibe at the beginning of the trail.  At the bottom of the first hill there are half a dozen giant stones on the bank of Drake's Creek where a bridge once stood.  I say creek, but it is really a small river much wider and deeper than any creek I have seen.

The story goes that several decades ago a woman named Catherine was coming home across the old iron bridge that stood there.  She was attacked and brutally raped by three men.  She died in the attack and they threw her body over the bridge into the river.  Years later, that bridge collapsed into the river, killing whomever was in the car and the road was closed.  It is also said that the three men that raped and killed her all came to an unfortunate end in each of their own ways; mysterious drownings, murdered in a bar fight, etc.  She had her revenge in the end even if it was from beyond the grave.

Fields at Katherine's Bridge
That day that my friend took me there, we walked the stunning path that the new neighborhood development had paved among fields and the creek and it was truly a magical place, though energy charged.  The path ends at a pool where smaller creeks run into Drake's and then make their way down into Barren River.  The whole walk round trip is at least 3.5-4 miles, but it is mostly flat and just stunning.  It became a favorite stop for the dog and I on our return trips from Atlanta during courting time with the boy.  The place made me one of it's own on one of those stops.

Now famous sight of the great Weim rescue
It was early summer and I had stopped with the dog for a walk after four hours in the car.  It was late afternoon and we had made the long, hot walk down and were coming back toward the car.  The dog was so worn out, panting, and running ahead of me off leash (there was never anyone there).  As I rounded the corner I called for him and heard a "KERPLOOSH".   I called again and heard flailing in the water and heard him start to cry.  I couldn't see him from all of the brush and had to wade through the stickers to get a look at him.  That spring had been one of the flooding seasons and the swift and swollen creek had carved out the creek bank walls where there were no trees growing.  The dog had not seen the edge of the bank and gone straight over it, a 30 foot drop down into Drake's Creek.  I continued to call him and could see him making a muddy mess of the bank, crying and whimpering because it was too steep to let him get a running start.  

Drake's Creek
It was a defining moment, I assure you.  Both of us hot and tired, him crying for me to save him, me looking for options to get him without having to scale the creek bank cause my tennis shoes were really cute and fairly new.  I decided to scoot slowly down the bank and try to lead him down the creek a way to try and find a better place to get out.  I put my keys and phone on the path, thinking that if worse came to worst, someone would see my car and then my keys and phone.  I started to scoot down and then all hell broke loose.  My hands and feet slipped, sending me flying down the bank on my ass into the creek with a similar "KERPLOOSH".  I am fully clothed, soaking wet and muddy (cute shoes forever ruined) and the dog is just so excited to see me that he is on top of me licking my face for coming to get him.  I look up and panic starts to rise in my throat when I see the creek bank.  It is straight up for as far as the eye can see.   The other side is fine, but it is to hell and gone from where I need to be.  The rescuer in me starts my action plan.  "OK- worst case scenario is that we swim and wade the 3 miles to the pool at the other end".  By now the adrenaline is starting to really kick in and I start to have delusions that we can totally climb this creek bank cause three miles of swimming and then two more miles of walking is not high on my agenda.  I have actually thought to bring his leash and I put it on him and think, "He can just pull us up this hill".  Yeah not so much.

We spent the next hour fighting and clawing our way out, zig-zagging back and forth, me cussing the dog and dragging him up the hill, me praying as hard as I have ever prayed that we wouldn't slip and break something, that we would make it out alive (my dumb ass had told NO ONE where I was), and that no river monsters would come out of the brush and sting us/bite us/eat us on our way up cause I was grabbing and holding on to whatever I could to get us up with absolutely no regard for what was lurking underneath it .  When we FINALLY make it to the top, sweating, panting, bloody from the stickers I have grabbed to get out (I still have scars on my arms from that day), the dog can't jump the last 2 feet to get out.  I actually had to LIFT THE 85 LB DOG OUT OF THE CREEK BANK!  We both collapsed onto the path, panting, heart racing, adrenaline starting to fade.  I made his ass pull me the rest of the way up to the car and stripped down in the woods out of mud caked clothes.  Thank goodness I had luggage with me.  I wore pajamas home the rest of the way that day.  There were no other stops.

When my friend and I were on our way back down there yesterday for a football game and a walk, we laughed and laughed about that experience.  He said, "That was no accident, that was karma."  Not sure what he meant, I questioned him about it.  "J.B., it wasn't enough for Katherine's Bridge that you just liked it.  You had to have a deeply personal experience here to own this place and for it to own you.  You are a part of it's history now."  Truer words were never spoken.  

Yesterday ended much more pleasantly than that summer day five years ago with a stunning night for a football game, dinner at a favorite local place there, and a song filled drive home with windows down, music loud, singing, and drag queen dance moves from the car seats.

The beginning of fall is here with glorious cooler temperatures this morning for porch/coffee time and the very beginning of leaves changing into their seasonal colors.  We will wrap up the garden in the next couple of weeks, begin a sketchy outline of a plan for next season, and pull out the fire pit for the back yard.  The next weeks bring a fall dinner party, pumpkin outings, and more fall recipes.  Pumpkin treks with coffee in hand begin promptly at 9:00 next weekend.  Holler if you can make it.  Until then take a walk down a haunted forest path.  If you are lucky, it just may make you it's own.


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