LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - APRIL 2019 (previous months)



Little Bluff cabin cam April 30 - the boss on her new tractor a couple of days ago...TODAY we are expecting HEAVY RAINFALL (but we only got less than one inch)

Journal updated on the 28th



04/01/19 I've been up shooting Mily Way and rising crescent moon photos for a while this morning and will post one of them later today or tomorrow. We're headed into Springdale for a puppy dog training session this morning. APRIL is one of my most favorie months of the year - no finer season anywhere!

04/02/19 The view of a distant barn in the valley from our back deck.



04/04/19 I'm down south for a couple of days chasing SPRING photos. 'Tis a great year for redbuds, popcorn trees, and wild plums...


04/07/19 note - I'm up and out the door before dawn today so no photo. We only got .56" of HARD rain here yesterday which left creeks flowing like hot chocolate! More rain fell in the southern Ozarks and especially in the Arkansas River valley around Russellville.

04/08/19 note - wer'e up and out the door before dawn again today so no cabin photo. Not a drop of rain yesterday or overnight. I spent 15 hours on the road and in the woods yesterday waterfall hunting (didn't get home until after 9pm - and I didn't take lunch or dinner with me - bad planning). TONS of redbud trees everywhere - best season for them and also wild plums!

04/10/19 Colorful, layered sunrise...


04/12/19 Beautiful light at dawnacross the landscape this morning - note our GREEN grass!


And a silverbell tree that I found this evenig - 24 trees with white blooms, and this one with pink...


04/13/19 Pam's dad built her a perfect swing for the front porch last year (he cut each board, crafted, sanded, and pieced together everything by hand - a work of art), and he installed it yestetrday. Pam's mom made the sunflower cushion with memory foam inside so our behinds will remember. My lovely bride's wandering spirit since she left her favorite swing at Cloudland can now be at peace!


04/14/19 Here's the tallest waterfall on the southern slopes of the Ozarks - Leeds Falls. 91'. Terrible harsh lighting conditions for waterfall photography, but I think this one might work for the new picture book...


04/16/19 We discovered the first morel mushroom at Little Bluff! It was quickly picked, shaken to dislodge spores, then delivered to my bride's mom, who loves them, as I do her daughter!


04/20/19 The full moon setting at sunrise...


04/21/19 A closeup of redbud blossoms and a tiny new leaf.


04/22/19 Earth Day sunrise!


04/23/29 LUSH and GREEN at dawn...


04/24/19 We had quite a light and sound show about 4am today. Looked like the entire southern sky was alive with bolts of lightning creating zig-zag patterns all across the scene. Lots of rumbles, cracks, and BOOMS too! Yet nary a drop of rain found us - radar showed the long storm sweeping through just to our south and we remain dry. Birds seemed to like the show - my bride's feeders were busy long before sunrise, and everyone seemed to have a lovely lullaby to share. Oops, I take that back - lots of birds singing, but the main guy with the lullaby is an Indigo bunting that arrived a couple of days ago. He has found his perch, and enjoys sitting there each morning to begin the day with music.

Yesterday at one point we had both the largest bird in the woods (wild turkey) and smallest bird in the sky (hummingbird) here at the same time. One one hummer though is all we've seen. He has maintained his perch above the one hummer feeder watching as other birds come and go.

We're hoping the next storm that blows across the Ozarks visits us - we can sure use some RAIN - with the vegetation in full-on spring-growth mode it is sucking up all the available ground water so, BRING ON THE RAIN - I NEEDED MORE WATERFALLS!

With all that rainfall we are expecting we'll have a lot of LAWN to mow. Yup, we now have a lawn - or a lawn-in-the-making. We wanted clear and open yard all around the cabin here (wildfire fire protection zone) but need the landscape smooth enough to be able to mow and control the growth. The grass is mostly just pasture grass now and no telling what it will evolve into, but Pam is prepared with her lawn mower from Cloudland to tackle it - and she has already mowed the lawn several times, inching out farther and farther into the rough no-man's-land at the edges. But the rough terrain only allows her to go so far.

Yesterday after much debate and money-counting, we took delivery of a new "toy" tractor, complete with a front-end-loader, box blade on the rear, and a "belly" mower. (It really does look like a toy - the smallest tractor I think they make and it looks kinda funny.) My hope is that it will allow me to not only take care of the zillion little things around our property that are just too big and/or heavy for me to handle by hand, but also be able to mow a wider path than Pam's mower can do, and be able to inch our farther into the jungle to keep the perimeter open around the cabin.

And it came with a very important part - an quick-attach/detach hitch on the rear. For YEARS I struggled with that on our big tractor at Cloudland - changing out box blade and bushhog mower - at times it simply beat me to death and defeated me and I had to call for help from Kennie or Benny to come change my mower out. But with this new system (available for any tractor or implement), all you do is flip two levers, lower the back, then drive off. To reconnect, just back up, lift up, and flip the two levers, and you are done - without even leaving the drivers seat! YIPPIE COYOTE!!! (the belly mower and also the front-end-bucket have very simple attach/detach systems too, so no more breaking my back trying to do that).

04/26/19 CRYSTALLINE skies this morning after the atmosphere was scrubbed clean by the past two days of rains - YIPPIE COYOTE again! However days like today put me out of business and I'm losing very costly time in the woods taking waterfall pictures!!! I still have more than 100 waterfalls to document and the harsh light of a clear day like this is not good for waterfall photos. Also I'm tuckered out a bit from another epic waterfall hunting day yesterday - part of being an old geezer that is not the weather's fault!

Fireman Jeff and I finally made it to a large and powerful waterfall I've attempted to photograph four times this past month. It was roaring yesterday but not muddy like so many others were. One waterfall we stopped to photograph was cloaked with an umbrella tree that seemed like it had 100 giant white blooms on it. I tried my best (in the rain) to capture the look and fell of all that but I know the picture will be little more than a snapshot compared to standing there in person in awe.

Our next stop was to visit what Jeff described only as a "hole" in the earth he found on google maps. It was an easy hike to get to the top of the rim, but then our route went nearly vertical as we pointed straight DOWN the very steep hillside where we landed on top of a bluff and some very interesting giant boulder features (one of them is shown below - it's about 40' tall). I could have stayed there all day taking pictures if I had my big camera with me, but I didn't, and after we found and photographed the waterfall nearby, we climbed and clawed our way back up the hillside and sped off to another location.


Our last drainage of the day was like stepping into another world - the forest was so open and BEAUTIFUL! We've been finding pockets of forest like this - all seem to be located on the north-facing slopes in the national forest that appear to have never been burned off like so much of the national forest has been these. Those giant man-set wildfires cause so much destruction to the landscape, and they literally change the nature and character of the deep woods - too bad for those of us who like to venture through open forest - you simply can't do that any where they burn, BURN BABY BURN! But they are mandated to burn a minimum number of acres a year no matter what the local land managers have to say about it, and also everyone gets hazard pay so there is a financial incentive for them to burn, burn, and burn some more. Fortunately the wetness of our later winter and early spring (when everyone goes to Mexico - a la John Denver - a favorite instrumental of his of mine). The north-facing slopes in the Ozark National Forest (or in any of the wilderness areas of course where they don't burn) - those are often the very best places to wander. (Oopos, was that my outside voice?)

And wander we did, from one waterfall to the next to the next. For this particular hollow there were at least two accounts and sets of photos published online by great waterfall hunters and gatherers, although at times they did not agree, and one or twice got downright confusing. I suspect mine are the sameha sometimes, but it was great to add another two pairs of eyeballs and trip experiences to the mix and hopefully the description in the new guidebook will make the most sense and allow easy access to these beautiful waterfalls and forest area.

Our only two photo workshops this spring are tomorrow and Sunday. We only have two students signed up for Sunday. We'll have a great weekend for this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing some world-class work from my students! (we still have plenty of room in my two nighttime workshops this summer, and my two fall-color workshops in October - click here for info and to sign up, or get a GIFT CERTIFICATE).

Have a TERRIFIC weekend, and please BE CAREFUL with every step!

04/27/19 Pam and her dad had to move all the tables and chairs off the deck this morning where they were set up for our photo workshp lunch today due to HIGH WINDS that blew them everywhere! Her screened-in porch was the perfect protection for our workshp crew! All students got some pretty terrific photos and went home with world-class prints. Our last spring photo workshop is tomorrow the 28th - hoping for less wind.


04/28/19 I feel like a grizzly bear tonight. One that just ate a very large pile of meat. Specifically BBQ. BBQ from Penguin Ed's in Fayetteville. Photo workshops always fill me up and I eat like a hog (and I love BBQ hog!) - snacks* (Cheetos, chips, crackers, trail mix, mini-Snickers, Pam's wonderful homemade Cloudland chocolate chip oatmeal cookies - I had six or seven of those yesterday - YUM!). And BBQ. My bride always makes sure we have PLENTY of BBQ for workshop students to have for lunch, but this weekend was the first time we've been able to cook and feed them here in a couple of years, so I had extra helpings of the BBQ. Then after everyone has left the building, I rush to the fridge and have more BBQ for dinner - it's like I'm only allowed to eat BBQ during a workshop, and the workshop would officially end at sundown. I had two plates of BBQ for dinner tonight - now it is dark, so no more BBQ until the next workshop we feed for, at the end of October. Bummer.

In the past I have as many as ten spring workshops in a single year, but this year I only had two - both this weekend. We had ideal light, water levels, and overall perfect shooting conditions and everyone in both workshops got some really terrific photos - and took home world-class prints. Kind of funny - I took my big camera gear and shot a couple of times during each workshop - mostly for demonstration, but also because the subjects were very nice. Twice I specifically shot the same scene that one of the students had taken, or would later take. Both times the student's photo was better than mine! Does that make me a really good teacher, or just not as good a photographer as my students were? Either way I'm hopeful everyone had a great time, learned a lot, and ate well for lunch!

FYI, we hike into the famous Eden Falls both days - yesterday we only saw three other people during our nearly three hours at the falls; today we didn't see a single person on the trail until we were on our way back out. A prime spring weekend with terrific water flow and we basically had the place to ourselves for hours. Early bird gets the worm, but an early hike will often get you solitude...

*One of the workshop students who shall remain nameless, brought a fresh homemade lemon pie that was perhaps the very best pie I'd ever eaten - and I've eaten a LOT of pie in my life! Oh my goodness it was SOOOOO good! I could have eaten the entire pie instead of BBQ. THANKS LARRY!!!

At the end of today's worshop we met with a delightful couple (Rex and Lynn) and former workshop student who came out to buy one of Pam's Pastels, and they brought along a goodie bag as a house warming gift for each of us. SO THOUGHTFUL - THANKS GUYS! Of special note was an entire binder filled with original poems by Lynn. I'm not a big reader, but did look through each one of them (while waiting on my BBQ to heat up) and can't wait to sit down and carefully experience each one. I may post one of two of them here with her permission as time goes on. So many wonderful people in the world - pie AND poetry for us this weekend. Life is good at Little Bluff...


Ozark Columbine along the Lost Valley trail.

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