Meanwhile in Arkansas . . .
For various reasons, my family and I didn't make an Ozark trip back to Arkansas this summer, but I won't let that stop me from offering a couple of Arkansas photographs from the rugged Buffalo River region of the Ozark Mountains, courtesy of professional wilderness photographer Tim Ernst, who lives in a cabin with his wife in the roughest wilds of the Ozarks.
This first image was made during a storm between four and five in the morning on August 11, 2011:
Here's what Mr. Ernst tells us of the shooting:
The lights were on in heaven all night long, with flashes coming from all directions. I got up at four and spent the next hour out on the back deck watching, soaking in as much glory as I could. So many times it would all start with a single flash low on the horizon, and it seems to ignite the rest of the sky as the lightning would spread upwards and out in both directions, fanning out wider and taller until the entire visible sky was filled with tiny streaks of light. And the sky behind it lit up purple! Each one was unique, and just when I thought I had seen the most amazing one ever, the next one would top it!I wish he'd gotten one of those quicksilver web designs on film, but what he's provided is already sufficiently sublime.
In case you're wondering what the landscape looks like by day, here's the same overview, more or less, at 7:18 in the morning eleven days later, on August 22, 2011:
You're looking across part of the Buffalo River watershed, a deep valley cut by America's first National River, a stretch of wild nature in a wilderness area, as you can see.
Mr. Ernst explores all over the area for points of interest to photograph, as described in the following adventure on August 3, 2011 with a fellow adventurer named "Jason":
The Ozark Jungle was very kind to us on the hike in, and in fact the woods were beautiful. Then we hit the dry Whitaker Creek creekbed and had a grand time exploring the geology that was normally underwater and now exposed for easy view. Most folks hate being outdoors here in the summer, but this is the only time I know of to see and experience all the great hidden treasures of the creekbed! I really enjoyed it. But then, all good things must come to an end and we needed to CLIMB nearly straight up the hillside to reach the tall waterfall, but I was getting pretty good at doing that while down on all fours so I was OK. There was even a narrow deer trail we found that led up to the base of the bluffline.As Mr. Ernst says, just open your eyes to the beauty . . . but I'd still like to see the waterfalls in motion.
I sent Jason to the top of the bluff from there while I scrambled to the bottom of the waterfall. Along the way I stepped in a hole and messed up my fragile knee, then lost control and slide down an incline out of control for about 20 feet and landed at the very bottom -- good thing Jason was not witness to this comedy! And then WOW!, what an incredible location!!! 'Tis very humbling to be witness to such beauty on a grand scale, with the bluff towering high above, guarded on top by a giant old cedar tree leaning far out over the edge, and everything surrounded by tall umbrella magnolia trees. Sure it would be even nicer with lots of water, but really, I find most of these dry waterfalls to be very scenic spots and I always shake my head when someone talks about being disappointed by a lack of water flow in the summertime -- OPEN YOUR EYES!!!
Jason appeared at the top of the bluff and lowered the measuring tape. At 76 feet tall this waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in all of the Buffalo River headwaters, with only Hedges Pouroff being taller (it is a lot taller at 113 feet). Next we measured Wild Burro Falls and Jason got to explore upstream a bit in the hanging valley above this falls -- there are more waterfalls up there but they are really tough to get to. Wild Burro Falls is much shorter, but it is quite unique and a very scenic spot that is much easier to reach than Beagle Point Falls.
Anyway, be sure to visit Mr. Ernst's website and look around through his many hundreds of nature photographs, and don't forget that the man has to make a living, so be willing to fork over a few dollars for a print or a calander . . .