A Big Surprise at Yahoo Falls

The morning clouds left me annoyed, thinking that it would turn out to be another dark cold day like the previous one.

But by 11am, breaks of sun popped through and my mood immediately lightened.
Yay! I'm going out to visit one of my favorite locations to photograph nature; Yahoo Falls.

It turned out to be a beautiful Sunday afternoon . The temperatures had risen to the low sixties; all the way up from a morning low of 49 degrees!

I have been to Yahoo Falls at least 4 times in almost every season. It is located in the upper part of the Big South Fork National  River and Recreation area that extends into Alardt, TN.  Daniel Boone Forest and Big South Fork are connected and it's hard to tell where one area stops and another begins except for the signs.

Yahoo Falls is easy to find. If you drive north from Tennessee, on highway 27, you will turn left onto highway 700, in Whitley City, KY.
If traveling south on highway 27, just turn right on highway 700.
Follow this narrow, winding road, slowly and you will reach the signs about a few miles due west.

I bought along a friend who had never seen this before so it was a treat.
There is an overlook near the parking lot and the water is always green. The fall colors are just changing and I didn't want to miss them. There are about three overlooks along the way to the falls.
I discovered that the falls does not enter or come from the river at all. it comes from a small creek on top of a ridge, and hikers can cross over and stand over the falls.

There are several ways to get down to the falls, so we picked the red, metal, steep, stairs. This is fine going down but not going up!

The recent rains made a decent amount of water for the fall to be photographed. There were other visitors around so maneuvering to get a good shot proved a challenge this day.

Due to the shade I had to raise the cameras ISO to 1600 and 3200 so there was some graininess, when magnified.

Photographers love to get clear crisp shots but nature doesn't always provide the best lighting.

The Yahoo Arch was next on the agenda so off we went.
The trail seemed a little longer than a year ago. It ascended steep hills and turned many times. I was a little breathless at some points and had to rest. I guess I am getting old or need more practice.

At last we found the arch. Actually it seems to be a rock house an arch and a cave with a hole on top. It never disappoints, at any case.

After snapping photos for 30 minutes, we decided to go back. There is another arch named marker arch further up the ridge about a 1.6 miles but it was getting late.

We walked back through the heavy woods and we stayed on the upper path this time. It was shorter.
As we came to the top of the falls, my friend decided to venture on top; I wasn't as brave.

I have wondered through the woods of Daniel Boone National Forest and the Great South Fork National Recreational and River Area for a few years now and never encountered any wildlife larger than a squirrel or rabbit. Black bear alerts were posted on most trails so I kept an eye out for them.

Then as we left the park road and drove down the road a little when something caught my eye. A very dark image appeared next to the road. I drove slowly up to this and saw the eyes and realized it was a black bear! My first encounter after all the trips and hikes. I was so amazed, scared and delighted at the same time!

My friend had the vantage point and managed to get a few shots before I could get my camera out of its bag. The young bear quickly walked away as he realized we were not there to feed him.

So here's my first bear sighting. I am so glad we didn't meet up with this on foot!

Slave Falls TN Summer Afternoon Adventure

My last post described the two Twin Arches in the Great South Fork Region in Picket County Tennessee. I stated that Slave falls would be posted next.

Slave Falls is a few miles away from the Twin North and South Arches in the same park. This is located in a heavily wooded, rocky terrain with good paths.
Take hwy 154 east from hwy 127 near Jamestown,TN.

Turn right onto Divide Road and then travel about 4 miles on Ridge Fork Rd.  Follow the signs on  the way to Charit Creek Lodge . The Sawmill Trail parking will come up first so park on the grassy lot in front of the trail head.

 There is a map of the trails as you enter the trailhead so we took a photo of this to help navigate through the area.
This preserve has a history of logging so the sawmill trail name made sense but any remnants of the old sawmill are gone.
The woods is very thick in the summer and the shade from the trees was welcome on this humid day but I will return in the falls and maybe winter when more can be seen.
On the way ,we passed cliffs, creeks, and overhangs. There was a sign for the rockhouse too, but we decided to do this another day.

We made our way to the side of Slave Falls but I was disappointed by the size of it. I guess they didn't get as much rain and so it was difficult to capture a good shot. My boyfriend scaled over the fence in an attempt to get that good shot.
Since the water falls over a huge overhang ,one could consider this to be a rockhouse, but it was impractical to walk through with the large boulders.

After climbing out of the bottom, we ventured on a trail that we thought would take to another great site and saved our disappointing trip. Needle Arch is a wonderful intact natural rock formation that is on the same path down from the falls.

The wide angle lens makes an interesting perspective.
After leaving the arch we continued on the trail that we thought would take us back to the car but it didn't!
We somehow got turned around and ended up on the other side of the falls!
The two hour hike wound up taking almost four hours and my feet were swollen.

Hiking on hot, humid days does take its toll. I was so happy to see the car and turn on the air conditioning. Yes I am just a day tripper. We came upon hearty campers and hikers that stayed overnight but I don't know how they deal with the creepy crawlies in the night!

Capturing North and South Arches In Big South Fork National Area,TN

The Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area is situated on the Tennessee border with Kentucky, and extends just south of hwy 52, between hwys 127 and 27.

The North and South Arches or Twin Arches as they are better known, lie almost in the middle of this wonderful preserve.

I had the pleasure of photographing these two giants, in the middle of a thick forest, last month.

Actually, if you want to find them, you must travel on hwy 154 as if you were going to Pickett park, and follow the large sign.
As you can see, there are other great hikes in the same area.
Take a turn on to Divide Rd and then stay straight on that gravel road for about 6 miles to the end.
Some turn right onto Ridge Fork Rd to the end.

The parking lot has a handy map and newer signs so I think the rangers must have been reading some of the other hikers complaints about lack of signage.
The last time we tried to locate this, there were very few.

The dirt path was wide and easy to walk on.
As we neared the arches, there was a fork in the path.
 We took the longer one and ended up on top of one of the arches.

But first we had to climb down very steep wooden staircases,onto the arch.

Yeah, hold on and watch where you step.
Taking photos, while stepping down is not recommended.

After walking across the rocky top of one arch and down another set of stairs, we turned right and there was the first one!
How beautiful and impressive this was!

This one was the North Arch.
it was hard to capture the whole size due to the tree foliage and its' size.


The sign is on the bottom, between the these arches.

The South Arch is even more impressive than the North one.
 We stayed about a half hour, photographing
and remarking about its size and features.
Other visitors arrived to shot as well

As we headed back to the parking lot, it started to drizzle so we hurried the pace.
Oh goody, more steps.

I love to walk along paths and see these natural wonders along the way. I often think and image who was living there and what life was like so many eons ago.
I do  know some of the history in these woods, involved the logging and mining industry, and was grateful that these were left alone.
My next adventure will be to capture and admire Slave falls, which is close by.

The Best Little Park known as 76 Falls ,KY

There's a sweet little park with such a beautiful waterfall, and not many know about it.
Just a small roadside parking area leads visitors down the steps, across a cascading creek and into a small picnic area.

One can walk right next to the top of the falls(behind a fence) and see the water rolling over limestone creek bed and down about 83 feet.

If you walk to the left of the falls and around the fence, you can get a side view glimpse of this beauty.  I'm not advising anyone to do this and especially if small children are present. There are wooden crosses around the fence line reminding all that others got too close to the edge.

Another view of the 76 falls is on the overlook, which is back over the wooden bridge and to the left this time (or right if approaching from the parking lot.) There is a steep set of steps taking you up to the overlook which gives the best views. I sat on top of the stone wall for this shot.

Since you won't find any signs anywhere,
the best way to locate this is to approach it from hwy 90 in Albany, KY,  and  turning onto hwy 734 and then right onto hwy 3063.
Follow that a few miles and you'll see a small parking area on the left.
But most people who visit the falls, come by boat and find it in a cove called Indian Creek, left of Grider Marina.

There is a nice website to read about a town that existed there one time called 76 Falls. It was wiped out by a killer tornado and never recovered.

Colditz Cove State Natural Area -A Small Park with Lots of Appeal

Northrup Falls is located in Colditz Cove State Natural Area in Allardt TN. by driving hwy 127 north or south.
Day-trippers can find it on 
old hwy 52 and follow the signs off the hwy to county road 1636. It is just before the historic own of Rugby, traveling east.

This is an unassuming wooded park that would easily be missed if you didn't pay attention.
Walking down the leaf covered path to the wonderful waterfall is an easy hike but be sure to take along your camera. The scenery is beautiful.

The Northrup waterfall is not only the best part; walking beyond it will treat hikers and photographers to interesting features.

If you like to see natural paths, rock formations, caves, pine trees, flowering shrubs and animals, then this is worth the trip.

This one cave overhang that can make some feel very small. There are large, jagged rocks and boulders on the ground that you may have to navigate over.

I'm always looking up for something to drop; maybe I'm a little paranoid that way.

A typical stone walkway over a small stream is a challenge when wet. Keep your camera in a padded bag and use your walking stick to keep your balance.
So go for just the waterfall or explore the park for a few hours. Its a fun way to spend the day and get some exercise.

A Lesiurely Afternoon Boat Ride on Pickett Lake

Last June of 2013, we made another visit to one of my favorite parks to hike and photograph nature. Pickett State Park is located on hwy 154 ,east of hwy 127. It is next to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in the north central region of Tennessee.

This trip turned out to be different than most. We saw the people rowing in the lake. The boathouse  was open and the canoes were available to rent so we decided to try it.
I haven't rowed in a small boat for many years but my boyfriend assured me it would be fine.

I was worried about my camera getting wet if the boat can capsized.
We ventured into the calm water and I immediately felt very tranquil.

The scenery was spectacular!
I'm glad I took the camera and here are some of the wonderful shots we captured.

All along the banks and cliffs of the island are caves and shelters. The shrubbery, flowers and blue green water made it all worth the trip.
The best part was rowing under the arch that we could only admire from the opposite side.

Rhododendrons, ferns, vines, small trees, and mountain laurels along the banks

We found a cave and shot some
 photos looking out into the lake.

another small lakeside cave long the water.
The reflection on the lake was beautiful.

We passed a beaver den on the way back to the boat dock. I didn't see the animals . It would have been a good shot.
I only regret that it wasn't very sunny. The photos may have been more colorful.

Dreaming of Summer

In the mist of the worst winter in recent memory,  I am dreaming of summer. Last June, we visited a beautiful, lush green park in Indiana called Ferdinand State Forest. It is about an hours drive west of Louisville, KY.

I was amazed at the lush dark green trees and grass along with the beautiful twin lakes.

They looked like giant mirrors, reflecting the tall trees in the background.

This one is my favorite shot from this trip. it looked like a perfect mirror reflection. The weather was a little overcast and water was still.
Not many people were in the park on a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes you can capture the perfect shots or mood when no one is around. I've had others step in front of my shots many times. It's a bit frustrating but I have to expect that in a popular location.

I had always thought of Indiana as farm country and didn't know it had a beautiful forest like this one. The southern section is very much like Kentucky, but it's not as hilly.

I can see by the impatient look  that it's time to finish up the last shots before we go.
We will be back this summer to bask in the beauty and tranquility of this lush forest in Indiana.
These were taken with a Nikon D3200.

Walking on Water--Almost!

A few weeks ago, we traveled down to Picket State Park in Tennessee. It has become one of my top places to hike and photograph nature.

The weather forecast called for upper 50's; nice after weeks of cold and snow !
There was snow covering the ground and to my surprise, the lake was frozen over!
walking on water
Some people were walking over it. It was a strange site to see; warm temperatures and a frozen lake.

My boyfriend ventured out on the ice and it didn't crack. He was walking on water, so to speak.
I also ventured out but not as far.

It was beautiful to see the reflections from the trees and stone banks on the opposite side.
We hiked on the snowy trails and experienced cold ravines
and then on top of hot ridges. We came upon a frozen waterfall and stopped to take a some photos. It was frozen solid!

The natural arch was melted and so warm, that I had to remove two layers of clothing.

What a wonderful way to spend a winters day. Walking in tee shirts and photographing icy waterfalls.What a site!
It's a treat to get a warm day in the middle of the coldest winter Kentucky
has seen in many years. We took advantage of it and came away with some great shots. I always take along my Nikon on these hikes. You never know what you'll find.

Winter Hiking to Eagle Falls

Winter waterfalls are one of my favorite sights to see. When we venture down a winter's path through the woods, the surroundings look much different than other seasons.

Eagle Falls is located on the Cumberland River, down from the famous Cumberland Falls, in Kentucky's southeast region.

In the springtime, you can walk the path on the other side of the park. It's very popular and often crowded so go early. Hiking in winter means you usually have the woods and paths to yourself and so photographing Eagle Falls with no one to interrupt your shots is great.

This particular shot was made in the early afternoon, across the river, on the upper path, just past the parks visitors stone buildings.
We had to climb down some steep, icy stairs and then climb onto a large boulder to capture this.
The view is not very clear in the other seasons because of the tree leaves.
No, this type of hiking, by two photography nuts, isn't for the faint-hearted.
But in the end, it was worth it!