Yellow Lady Slipper at Tackett Creek
Ride Royal Blue Camping & Four-Wheeling Trip-Day 2
Daily ride milage 40
Tackett Creek Do-Over
Pictures are here:
Tackett Creek Pix
Quiet & Beauty of Tackett Creek Video
Quiet & Beauty of Tackett Creek Video
We woke Saturday morning to the rumbling of ATV's around us. It was going to be a busy day at Royal Blue. It had rained in the night and was looking like more on the way.
We got up and fixed a nice hot breakfast of pancakes and bacon. We packed our lunch and gear up and got ready to go. Outside the campground and resort was filling up with riders and machines. We were pleased to be riding elsewhere today to avoid the crowds.
We headed north and it wasn't long before we were at the parking area on Duff Road for the Tackett Creek trail system. It is a coal mining area. Some parts of it are still actively being mined, but where we went today we had little contact with that. We saw an elk on the drive there.
Can't tell from this distance if its a bull or a cow?
We had a general plan in mind what we hoped to see today. We thought we'd ride out the trail toward McCloud Mountain and hike out to the formations there. We also hoped later in the day to ride north and see Primroy Arch and Drive In Triple Arch. The main things I wanted to accomplish today? I wanted to check out an area on the stream below Sand Cave to see if there was a waterfall. I wanted to explore the ridge top forests where I hoped to find yellow lady slippers. I also wanted to explore the river bottom lands below the old Tackett Creek Railroad.
We headed up the mountain and today was a good orientation for Kenny and me.
It was the first time we'd ridden Tackett Creek area without someone guiding the way.
Kenny did a great job. I was still disoriented most of the time. We turned and went toward McCloud Mountain first. It was fun and beautiful. The fog closed in so much around us you could hardly see at times. The trail was lush and green and beautiful.
The forest smelled fresh. We saw a few wildflowers and lots of mayapples. The trail was so narrow in places on the ridge it was like a knife-edge. You could literally spit from one side to the other. We both agreed we wanted to come back here again when it was clear because we were unable to enjoy the views from the trail! We did see quite a few pink lady slippers up there.
We passed some neat looking rocky outcrops that would be so worth exploring.
The trail finally ended abruptly just as Buck had said. A massive rock blocked any further progress forward. It was not a Boyd's boulder, but a huge monolith. We got out and walked around it. Resurrection ferns grew on top of it. A road turned and went down off the mountain. We followed it a short distance to see where it went? It dead ended at a row of boulders as a road block. We decided not to bother hiking out to the rock formations seeing as how we'd have no view from them once we got there. It would be best to wait for another day. We have decided to go spend the night at the lodge and see all of them when it is clear and enjoy a little get-away.
The patch of ferns here went on as far as the eye could see. Beautiful!
Rock stopping any forward progress!
We turned and began heading back down to the intersection. It was great fun with some whoop de doo's along the way! One scary thing that happened which could have been a deal breaker/life ender was thinking a path was the trail down when it was a short section of dead end with a huge drop off. Holy schnikees! Hard to tell in the fog what is what!
We got down off that part of the mountain and headed to our next stop. We ate lunch at the intersection and went toward the Sand Cave to see if we could find any new waterfalls?!
Rocky bluff along the trail
We enjoyed the ride up toward the Sand Cave, but investigating the creek turned up no new waterfalls. What I had seen was just a series of pretty, but small cascades. Getting out and going over and looking behind the huge boulder brought no new finds. It did give me satisfaction of being able to check for myself. Once done I was ready to move on.
We found a neat rocky cliff see above. We also found a newly constructed trail that was very challenging and fun. Lots of hooting and hollering and laughing coming up and down that! We went ahead toward the overlook above Sand Cave. No view whatsoever today.
See for yourself below!
You can't see a thing today!
Pair of mating ruffed grouse. The male was dancing and drumming for the female.
We crept along the ridge toward the areas I wanted to do some wildflower hunting.
We saw something move in the fog. It was a pair of ruffed grouse. We got a video of them as well as good pictures of them! They were so romantically involved they weren't afraid of us. They are really pretty birds and remind me a lot of a domestic chicken.
We didn't have to go far until Kenny hollered that he saw yellow lady slippers!
We stopped and got out and here is a view of the foggy forest.
All kinds of growth here in this cloud forest. Lots of golden alexanders and purple wild
And then there were these!
And this! Yellow Lady Slipper in the Clouds!
Most who like muddy ATV trails don't care about wildflowers, but I refuse to be pigeon-holed. I can like it all and do it all. I am always going to be more of a hiker and naturalist ,but I'll keep my rough edges thank you very much.
Mud holes! I like them too. That's what I love about Kenny. He lets me be myself.
He appreciates me the way I am. And vice versa!
I was tickled to death to get to see all these gorgeous yellow lady slippers in peak bloom.
I was satisfied as taking a long drink of water. It was what I had wanted and I was now quenched. We decided to mosey on down to the river bottoms to see what was there??
Perhaps we'd have time to make it to the arches today!
We saw this massive rock cliff on the way out. Long way up!
We made it down to the river bottoms area and I was not disappointed. It turns out the area we call Tackett Creek is right, but THIS .. THIS is Tackett Creek itself! Had we not come down here to the river I'd never have gotten to see for myself how pretty it is and what the area was named for. The river bottoms were thick with green growth and trees.
It smelled Heavenly. Mud. Fresh earth. Rain. Magnolias. Lots and lots of native magnolias perfuming the air. Tackett Creek looking upstream
Downstream on Tackett Creek
Trail leading into the woods with lots of magnolias around.
Closeup of magnolia flower
Another view of Tackett Creek from a camp site.
We enjoyed riding around the river bottoms for awhile. We thought we'd head toward Primroy Arch and Drive In Triple arch, but we soon realized how late in the day it was getting. We also realized it was further off than we'd anticipated. We will save those two features for another ride.
We headed back to LaFollette to get some movies from red box. We got no TV reception at the campground. Since it was rainy and we weren't going to be able to have a good campfire to sit around we opted to watch a couple movies and stay dry and warm.
It was turning cool. We were again muddy, tired and happy. We were going to just have warm ups of roast beef for dinner and some corn on the cob and cantaloupe melon.
We went home and had a nice dinner and movies. We watched Jack Reacher and got snookered into renting True Justice thinking it was a new Steven Seagal movie.
We took hot showers tonight in that stinky water and slept like the dead while several inches of rain poured down on the camper roof!
Tomorrow we'd fix a leisurely breakfast and ride Royal Blue again before heading home.