Monday, May 2, 2016

Tackett Creek, Primroy Arch & Drive In Triple!

Pink trillium  on the ridge

Tackett Creek, Primroy Arch & Drive In Triple

Kenny & Dana Koogler 
Saturday April 30, 2016

45 mile ride

Pictures are here beginning with frame 328 

Tackett Creek First 

Try to look up information on Tennessee's WMAs Spring wildflowers.  Next try
 to get some information on scenery not to be missed by doing a google search.  You will probably come up empty in most cases.  Why?  Because the usual folks that use these areas don't care about 
wildflowers, waterfalls, photography, trip reports, scenery and that sort of thing.  They go to hunt, fish, mountain bike, or go four wheeling to sling mud and go fast.  Nothing wrong with that.
What happens when you send a redneck gal who is a combo of Jungle Recon and Lucy Braun
to the woods with a camera, a Polaris RZR 1000 and her equally redneck hubby?  
The pair will be a power house of finding things, photographing things, and soaking up every bit
of fun and adventure there is to be had!  Nowadays when I try to google most out of the way places 
for info on wildflowers or scenery guess what comes up?  My own work mostly. 

           We love riding at Tackett Creek in Campbell County. It is wild, rugged, and beautiful. 
You don't encounter too many people there besides yourself and whoever came with you.   It is
a good wildflower place as well as rich in scenery and four-wheeling adventure. Places like 
The Great Wall, No Business Holler, Hell's Canyon, Sand Cave, White Rocks, to name a few.
Numerous overlooks are along the ridge with interesting rock forms.  Waterfalls and springs seep 
out of various hollers.  Creeks wild and rocky flow down the mountain sides.  Trails that wind
through forests that are pretty in every season.  It is a great place to be, but I am the only 
amateur botanist, naturalist, photographer you are likely to find there.  Hell yeah!  

          We wanted to go back to see if the wildflowers were good this season? The last time we tried this they hadn't even come up.   The cold snap earlier in Spring did them in and there was not much to be seen.  Today we hit it just right.  We also wanted to find Primroy Arch and Drive In Triple.. another nearby arch.   Buck Coward, our good friend and riding pal... said he did not think
there was a trail that went to Drive In Triple. Kenny discussed it with him and got some good refresher directions for the trip. Kenny had been to Primroy Arch before, but was following someone else. When you are navigating it yourself you tend to retain the information better.  I said based upon satellite views and Cal Topo maps.... there was indeed a trail that lead from one arch.. round to the other.   Kenny was willing to check it out, but was skeptical as to our success. He thought we might
have to end up going round to Rt. 25 and coming in to the other arch from that side.  We would see!

         The day called for scattered showers so we packed lunch and rain gear.  We parked at a spot about half way between the two widely separated attractions and headed out in the RZR.  
We continue to be impressed with the suspension and ride on the Polaris 1000 model.  It makes difficult trails so much easier to climb too.   Eats them up like it is nothing.    We rambled down the 
old rail bed now turned gravel road.  We could see a beautiful stream filled with cascades, ripples, and pools.  We saw all three different kinds of native magnolia trees along with many other species.
Turkeys were abundant today.  We also saw a small cascade we had not noticed before.  We began seeing a few wildflowers, but nothing much along this part of the trail.  I wondered what we'd run into up higher?  Would the ridges be more rewarding?  I hoped so. 

Pretty  small falls dropping in next to the trail. 

We weren't in the woods long until I saw my first southern red trillium of the day.

Shortly after that...... the pink lady slippers began and there were hundreds of them today!  I finally stopped taking photos of each one because they were so abundant.   

Representative cluster of three pink lady slippers.  They were very pretty!

       We went through forest with ferns and new Spring green leaves and interesting rock forms.
  Above-- one of many rock houses along the ride today. 

We came to a pretty overlook next.  

View from the overlook.. Spring red maples, bronze oaks, and yellow magnolias against a blue view of Norris Lake in the distance. 

          We rambled on along the mountain top at last.  It is a hard place for me to understand the trail system. Just when I think I get it........... I find out I still don't.  It is unpredictable.  One trail I will be able to tell you where we are, where we are going next, and where the trail will come out.  Other times I am completely turned around.   Thankfully Kenny was not!  He had it all in hand.
We went high along the ridge where the mountain sloped off and along those slopes were waves of wildflowers!  Far as the eye could see. White trilliums, pink trilliums, Tackett Creek striped trilliums, 
fairy bells, golden alexanders, purple geraniums, yellow lady slippers dotting the scene.  Ferns garnishing the whole palette.   I was in my seventh Heaven.   

 Yellow lady slippers were abundant today.
 Spotted mandarin aka Fairy Bells were an unexpected extra delight!
 Trilliums galore and ferns too.
 They go on and on.. and on........
 The trail is like a red dirt roller coaster! Fun!
 Tackett Creek Candy stripe pattern trillium
Another variation of Tackett Creek striped trillium

   We enjoyed the first part of our day.   It began to sprinkle rain.  I had seen what I came to see.
We were both eager to explore a new, different area.  We headed back to the truck to eat some lunch.
Next we'd set out to find the arches and explore the other area around Primroy.  It began raining on us as we headed to the truck.  We sat in the truck in the dry and ate a sandwich and waited out the rain.
We put our rain gear on because it called for spotty rain off and on all day.

Primroy Arch & Drive In Triple 

    We got lunch over with and felt better.  We got back in the RZR and hit the hard road for a stretch.You have to  drive on the black top for a little bit.  This is too near Kentucky for anyone to get on you for it.  Lots of folks round here do it and no one gives it a second thought.  Kenny navigated the twists and turns like a boss.  He remembered how to get there just fine.  It had quit raining and the air smelled sweet.  The area around us near the hard top was dotted with shacks, trailers, abandoned buildings, abandoned houses.  Lots of poverty in this area.   Lots of natural beauty as well. We met a man driving his four wheeler on the pavement. We were on a narrow road and had to pull over. A car had gotten behind us.  All us four wheeling folk had to scooch over to let them pass.  The road is winding, steep, a sheer drop off to one side and no guard rail at all.  It would be a dreadful place to be in Winter with ice or snow.  Around us was a deep green hemlock gorge.  I looked to my left at the vegetation along the road.  I asked Kenny to stop so I could get a photo of a particularly pretty red barksdales trillium.  I walked along beside the machine for a bit.  I blinked twice and could not believe my eyes.  I had found my first WHITE barksdale's trillium!  I vaguely remembered reading that they existed, but are far fewer in number.  

 Red Barksdale trillium. Same thing as Southern Red trillium...
 White Barksdale trillium.  White variation of Southern Red. Different from Southern Nodding trillium.

Winding road.. this does not show the sheer drop off and blind curves. I did not dare get the camera out for those.

 The trail is the creek
Mossy walls of the gorge we are in..

       We didn't have to go too far. Kenny saw a trail Buck had indicated should be avoided.  He had said it was rougher than the one on the right.  We went up to investigate a rock house Kenny liked the looks of.  I was not that impressed with the rock house, but I did like the flowers around it and the forest itself.

Slopes with ferns thick as hair on a dog's back!
 Deep green forest gloom at midday.  This is really how it looked. When you listen to Patty Loveless' song "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"  the lyrics sing of "Where the sun comes up about 10 in the morning and the sun goes down at 3 in the day."  Such places are very real in the hollers of Kentucky and East Tennessee.  She sings like the heart and soul of Kentucky.

Wild Columbines light up the area in front of a rock house.

We continued climbing up a mountain until I thought the RZR would roll over backwards it was so steep and rocky.  It was a red dirt and rock adventure getting up there.  We made some more twists and turns and before long were at Primroy Arch.  We got out to see it. I was walking around taking pictures and stepped on a wet, round, barkless stick. I never saw it coming. I fell hard on my backside.  It hurt so bad I could not make a sound.  It knocked the wind out of me from the impact.
I got up and dusted myself off.  It scared Kenny a little bit.  He went up on top the arch to see it from there.  I decided since I was so clumsy I best not.  It began to pour down rain. He pulled the RZR under the arch and we stayed in there awhile in the dry.  The rain began to let up again and we continued on to see if we could find Drive In Triple next. 

Primroy Arch is a big one! We both liked it!

   Kenny said we'd just have to try it and see if it panned out.  He again said if it didn't work out this way we'd go round to Hwy 25 and come in from that direction.  I had done some serious studying of the maps for trails and I held fast to my belief that we'd get there on a trail.  Buck and Co.  know lots of things, but they miss things because they fly by them. Easy to miss stuff like that.   I had faith I knew what I was talking about this time.   We took the only trail available leading away from Primroy Arch that did not go back the way we had just come.  It swung out and then quickly turned and headed in the right general direction. So far so good!  It wound along the side of the mountain top.
It went down over some rocks that were steep, scary and slick. Kenny went down them like a champ. 
One thing I liked about it?  The huge rock on the side with the drop off was not going to let you go over that way!  You'd have to work at it to fall off the mountain side.  

         A few twists and turns more and we were on the finger of ridge I had seen near the Drive In Triple.  Kenny went out it passing up a trail that went down and left.  We drove over the top of the arch.   We turned around and went back and took the side trail which did lead right up to it and into it!
We were cheering because we found it!  Feels good to be right now and then!  It was an impressive sight.   Triple arch and triple chambers in it!  It was another deep, dark place in the forest today. 

One view of Drive In Triple... you can see two of three deep chambers to the side.
 Kenny backs in to one chamber so I can see it better. I loved this photo. It is very cool. The fires of Hell behind.. and the lights beaming out front!
 A triple arch!  

        We visited and saw all we wanted to see then began our return trip out of the woods. The rain was pouring down now.  We were pleased we had done our days rides in the order we did.  Most of what we did for the second part of the day was under cover so the rain did not ruin it.

      We were getting done at a reasonable time. It would not be a real long day thankfully.
We stopped by the river on the way out so I could get some pictures and check out the scenery.
It was a nice spot.  I saw golden club which I had only seen a couple times before.  
They were in the river.  The rain stopped and we were able to get out and eat a snack and explore.
Looking back at the photos....... I am very glad we took time to soak it in.  This area is lovely.
 View of the river immediately after the rain.
 Pair of dwarf crested iris coated in rain drops.

You can see the rain drops and ripples hitting the river. The rain has not quite stopped completely yet.

     We were so close to the Kentucky line and Jellico we just went round that way.. up Hwy 25 and hit the interstate to go home.  It was a good day and we found everything we hoped to today! 

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