Monday, May 4, 2009

Let It Rain

It began raining Friday night before I went to bed and I had already made plans to go to Mt Nebo Saturday morning to hike the Rim Trail to get some much needed exercise. My son called at midnight to tell me he was going to be late getting home because it was raining so hard he pulled into a car wash to wait for the rain to slack off. It was then that I began thinking that instead of hiking at Nebo I needed to be out chasing waterfalls before sunrise on Saturday while it was still raining. I just got some good shots of the waterfall on Nebo a couple of weeks ago so I decided to go to Long Pool instead.

I set my alarm for 5 am and tried to sleep but kept waking up about every hour either because of the sounds of thunder or the heavy rain on the roof. Or maybe it was just the excitement of getting to see Long Pool Falls at what some would call flood stage. I had never been there when it was much more than a trickle so I felt I was in for a real show. I got up when the alarm went off and quicly dressed and loaded up my gear. When I left the house around 5:45 it was just barely raining but when I got half way between Russellville and Dover the bottom fell out. It was raining so hard I had to drive about 40 just so I could see to stay on the road. As I entered into Dover the rain was beginning to let up a little. I stopped just north of town to see what the Illinois Bayou looked like and it was higher than I had ever seen it which told me that Piney Creek and all it's tributaries would also be flooding. As I began the climb up the first hill on Highway 7 the rain began to become heavy again and I had to drive carefully because of all the spots where the flooding water had left rocks and gravel strewn across the road. The hillsides along the road were now just one rolling cascade of rushing water after another. All of the ditches on both sides of the road were flooded. When I came to the turn off on Hwy 164 I decided to drive on down and see what the Big Piney looked like at the bridge. It was almost to bottom of the bridge. I actually saw this part of the creek all the way to the top of the bridge a few years ago during a freak rainstorm. By this time the rain had let up again and the morning light was just beginning to appear through the heavy cloud cover. I made may way on out to the Long Pool campground and took some photos of the creek down by the bath house.

After shooting a few photos of the creek I decide it was time to make the short hike to the falls. When I parked the trailblazer at the back of the campground the rain began to get heavy again and I could hear thunder in the distance. The trail looked almost like a creek itself and my feet were soaked within the first hundred yards. I stopped several times to get shots of smaller cascades rolling down the hills along the trail and of the lush green ferns growing in the area. As I crested the top of the hill I began to hear the roar from the lower portion of Long Pool Falls and my heart rate increased with the thoughts of what lay ahead. Arriving at the creek I was just astonished at the amount of water flowing down from the falls and when I looked up to the right I was greeted with and awesome view of the Lower Falls bigger and better than I had ever seen it. I quickly scanned the area and found the best location to shoot from and began to set up the tripod and camera while trying to keep everything dry. I took several dozen photos from several different viewpoints before deciding to head on up to the Upper falls.
At this point I usually cross the creek and approach the Upper Falls from the other side but with this amount of water there was no crossing the creek today so I began the scramble up the slick hillside to the right of the Lower Falls. About half way up I noticed another good vantage point of the Lower Falls so I carefully made my way over to the edge and set up again. I took several dozen more photos from that vantage point also. There is this one large rock that I love to take pictures of when I am here. It is a large rock about three feet wide at he top and four feet wide at the bottom and stands about seven to eight feet tall leaning at an angle back to ward the falls. It is covered in thick green moss and is just one of those objects in nature that I just find to be very photogenic. Today this rock was standing its ground taking lots of punishment from the raging water of the falls.

The photo on the left shows the rock back in September of '08 when the water was barely a trickle. I just love all of the color on the rock.

The photo on the right shows the rock right in the middle of the raging torrent. One of these days there may be enough water come down this creek to move this large rock but until that day comes I will continue to visit and see what kind of photos I can come up with.

I finally made my way up to the Upper Falls and was just astonished by the amount of water coming over the edge of the bluff. The heavy rain had returned again and I was glad to be under the shelter of the overhanging bluff. I took some photos from the dry shelter but could not get the shot I wanted from there so I waited until the rain let up again before venturing down toward the creek for a better shot.

I spent some time trying different angles and exposures before the rain started coming down again and I had to retreat back to the shelter of the bluff. the hardest thing about photographing waterfalls on days such as this is keeping the camera dry and the lens clear. I packed everything back in my backpack and put it on under my rain jacket to make the walk behind the falls in order to get to the spot that I thought would make the best pictures. The spray from the falls soaked me good but it felt really refreshing as I made my way behind the raging water. The sound was deafening, although I just wanted to stand there forever letting the spray hit me in the face and listen to the roar. After a few slippery minutes I made it to the spot I wanted to be in and set up and took lots of photos. I only hoped I would get at least one good one. I packed everything away,said goodbye to Long Pool Falls and the rock, and made my way back toward the truck to head for home. It was 9 am when I got back in the truck and I was surprised that I had spent over two hours out in the rain but after processing the photos I think it was all worth it.


donnie said...

Awesome shots. I am going Thursday. After all of this rain, it should be flowing pretty nice again.

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