Saturday, May 14, 2011

No ladies on the Ladyslipper Loop Trail, but...

Rosebay rhododendrons in full splendor.
The Ladyslipper Loop Trail at the Lake Russell Recreation Area winds a little over six miles through rolling hills.  This trail is also used by mountain bikers and horses, so it was wide and rutted.  Still Waters and I chose this trail on a day with 70% chance of thunderstorms.  We only had a few sprinkles and the sun stayed out giving us "sun showers."  We never did find any ladyslippers, but the rosebay rhododendrons and mountain laurel put on a show that more than made up for it.

We started beside Nancytown Lake, full of cattails and buzzing with activity.  The trail begins by climbing to a ridge, then descends again, crossing a few streams.  Several intersections were unmarked, and we had to choose between equally used trails and old roads.  Somehow, we always ended up OK, eventually finding a trail sign.  But it was always a bit dicey. 

A few minutes after I said I was ready to stop for lunch, we rock-hopped across a stream.  Pausing, I noticed the sound of rushing water, and was reminded of a recent conversation with waterfall enthusiast Karen.  She said she often finds waterfalls by listening for them.   Curious, we bushwhacked down the hillside and came upon a hidden falls down below the trail.  It was absolutely stunning, framed by thickets of mountain laurel and rosebay rhododendron  heavy with bright pink blossoms. Incredibly, the sun peaked out from behind the stormclouds, lighting up the water and making the flowers twinkle.

Hidden falls near the Ladyslipper Trail.

On the way home, we stopped by David and Katies in Homer, which was recommended to me by Pyro.  For those of you in the area, this Amish market is backpackers paradise-- they've got all sorts of dried veggies (to-die-for dried okra!), dried fruit, tons of powders you won't find anywhere else (like cheese powder and dried buttermilk), dried soup mixes, and spices.  It's all much more affordable than buying expensive pre-packaged meals from REI.  Last time I was there I talked a long time to the owner-- nice guy, and he prides himself on getting local and made-in-the-USA goods.  I highly recommend this place to all of you from Georgia-- I don't usually like to recommend stores or products, but I'm making an exception because this place is so remarkable.  Not to mention they have hand-dipped ice cream-- always the perfect ending to a hike.


  1. sooo beautiful Joan. AND my question is, will we be anywhere near Homer this weekend.....

  2. Yes, we'll be near Homer, but not when they will be open-- they are closed on Sun. :( Sometime, we'll have to plan a shorter day hike and shopping trip one Sat. But we can stop at the Spring Ridge Creamery for ice cream on Sunday-- they don't close until 6 PM so we should be able to make it in time.

  3. Sandi, you have to go there. I went Friday and stocked up on some goodies. The prices just cannot be beat.
    Joan, I have hiked that trail too, it is a nice trail, I just wish someone would reblaze it. We got lucky and managed to follow the right trail, but it was a challenge for sure.