Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ride Royal Blue Camping & Four-Wheeling Trip--Day 3

Flowering Quince bloom at an old home site.

Ride Royal Blue Camping & Four-Wheeling Trip-Day 3
Daily Ride Mileage 32
Pictures are here:

Videos are here: 

Upper & Lower Flatwoods Falls

   We woke Sunday morning to the rain having stopped.  It was still overcast but looked like it might clear off later.   Outside it was quieter than it had been the day before.  A look outdoors let us know most folks had packed up and left.   A few souls lingered in campers and staying in the cabins.   We were in no hurry today.  We planned on riding the trails close-by today and just taking it easy. We cooked bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast with some fresh melon, orange juice and coffee.  Yummy!

   I got out and walked around to see what the rain the night before had caused?

Stinking Creek muddy and swollen. I wished I'd taken a photo of it the day before when it was clear and pretty.  You can see the fog in part of the picture.  The woods around here are beautiful. American hornbeam, native magnolia, beech, hemlock, pine, poplar, hickory, maples, oaks, American holly, black locust, and yellow buckeye were just some of the beautiful trees. Many of them were blooming and smelled so sweet and fresh.  I go past hemlock trees or sassafras trees I pinch off some leaves and crush them to sniff.  I never want to forget how special these things are. 

More mud holes along the trail. Some of the mud was thick as peanut butter!

    We loaded up and headed out for our  ride.  We wore our rain gear.
It drizzled off and on.  It was cool and overcast. The sun tried to peek out.
We made our way back over to the trails we wanted to access with more ease and speed than before. We were getting the hang of navigating the new access.   We decided to ride the new #26 Ivydell Trail. It would give me a chance to see if the little black water swamp I liked was still there?  We would then come down off the mountain and ride back Ollis Creek Trail which should be very pretty. We guessed the waterfalls there would be rolling right along!   Ivydell Trail turned out to be fun, beautiful and awesome!
It went down in deep hollers with high cliffs. It passed some rock bluffs that were level with the trail. Partial views out from the forest canopy with the misty mountains visible.
Parts of it went round curves like a rollercoaster again with no safety rails! Especially where it started down off the mountain toward the Ivydell Snake Handling Church.

The Cumberland Mountains and the  glowing mist.

Split Bluff with ferns. Right even with the trail.

Black water gum swamp along the trail right at Campbell Split

    We came down and turned onto Ollis Creek Trail.  The stream was raging. I'd never seen that much water on it ever.   The old LaFollette Reservoir is usually blue-green and beautiful.  Today it was powerful and so were the dams on it, but it was not pretty. Just impressive in its power.   I put a video of it on the top of this trip report.
We saw several wet weather waterfalls and cascades along Ollis Creek we'd never seen before!  I saw a lily leaf twayblade orchid just in bud.  Kelvin helped me figure out what it was.  I saw the cutest box turtle ever along the trail. He was boldly colored. 
Eastern Box Turtle. I really liked this little guy.

Yellow Branch Falls was running good! Most water we'd ever seen coming over. It is about 15 ft high.  We stopped to see this pretty falls on our way.

   The rain began while we were at Yellow Branch Falls.  It rained pretty hard, but by the time we pulled up at Flatwoods Falls it had quit.  Eddie told Kenny the steps at Flatwoods Falls were gone. We thought happily that he was out of his mind when we arrived.  The steps were still there!  Rounding the bend we saw that the second section of steps was still there, but a big chunk of them was gone and what was left was slick, rotten, pieces missing and generally unstable to use!  We had to scoot down the slick bank and stay to one side of the steps to make it down. 
Upper Flatwoods Falls is about 40 ft high.

Kenny carefully climbing down the bank

Lower Flatwoods Falls is about 50 ft high. Today the plunge pool is murky from all the rain.

    We checked out these falls today and were back at the top before anyone else arrived.
We greeted our fellow riders and moved on.  They were the first and only people we saw riding besides us today!  We took a few trails back toward the campground we wanted to check out.  We went flying past the speed limit on Short Mountain Road.  I laughed til I cried. It is so fun! Here is a video of Drive It Like Ya Stole It that was made during that ride.  I had to add music to it because for some reason the sound did not record on this one. 

Trail #9 the Slide Rock Trail was challenging and fun. It was also quite pretty. Pink lady slippers along it in a few spots.  We turned onto #39 .  It was fun and scenic.  Narrow, lots of ups and downs. Drop offs. Ferns and lush growth. Beautiful forest.  I'd go back on that one in a hurry!  We made no wrong turns heading back to the camper and were glad to see it when we arrived.  We were wet, a little cold and hungry.  It was pouring rain when we pulled up.  Kenny said there was no way he was going to try to pack up stuff while that went on. He said we'd just cook some lunch and get going when the rain let up.
We cooked burgers on the grill and macaroni and cheese for lunch. It was delicious and
we did not have to stop anywhere on the way home to eat out.  We had time to change into dry clothes and warm up.  About the time we got done eating the sun came out.
I helped him pack up and soon we were on our way down the road.

It is always good to go camping, but its also good to come home.
I like both. I think I can speak for both of us that this weekend was a much needed get-away and will be a fond memory for long time to come.  I love my hubby. He's my partner in crime.  :-)

Cinnamon Ferns growing along Trail #39. These are favorites of mine!

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