CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - MAY 2010, Part A (1st-21st) Journal Archives


Cloudland Cabin Cam May 21th, 8:08am - SUNSHINE today, so my waterfall hunting is over (I was shooting at 6am this morning deep in the wilderness before the sun came up). Photos and story from yesterday will be added later.


Updated Tuesday morning the 18th - one of my most important photos ever

05/01/10 It was three-something this morning when the alarm jolted me awake. Welcome to May! I stumbled downstairs and shielded my eyes as the big computer monitor came to life and lit up the cabin. I sat down and squinted at the map on the computer screen that showed how much rain had actually hit the ground over the entire state of Arkansas in the previous 24 hours. This map is kind of difficult to see anyway since it won't zoom in, and really hard when your eyes are still mostly shut, but I did manage to figure out a game plan for my waterfall-hunting day. Contrary to popular opinion, much of Arkansas did not get a lot of rain on Friday with the big storms that rolled through, with the majority of it landing in the flatter areas of the state - not many waterfalls for me to explore!

I decided to head for Heber Springs and visit a couple of neat areas there - the rain map showed a lot of rain surrounding the area, but not all that much where I really needed it - I was hoping the map was just a wee bit off. It was a pretty quick trip and soon I was driving in the lowlands between Conway and Heber, but the dark gray skies above were giving way to areas of sunbursts - not a good sign. But the sun was a good boy today and mostly stayed out of my way.

The first stop was at Cornelius Falls. It was running OK and I spent some time taking pictures and measuring it - officially 49 feet tall. This waterfall is perhaps one of the most popular and most photographed big waterfalls in the entire state. But it also is really controversial, and in fact most people have no idea who even owns the property. Oh yes, and everyone has been calling it the WRONG NAME! I've known about this waterfall for many years and have visited and photographed it before, but have not included it in the waterfall guidebook since it has most certainly been on private property (contrary to popular opinion, just because "a lot of people take pictures of it" does NOT mean that it is on public property!). There seems to be a solution to this issue brewing (the city of Heber Springs may have leased the property from the private land owner, and hopes to make it accessible to the public), although I still have not seen any official documents about it yet, and until I do the waterfall won't be in the guidebook - but since the new book won't be out until 2011, we still have a few months to sort it all out.

Oh yes, the name. Most everyone has been calling this waterfall Bridal Veil Falls, but it isn't. It is Cornelius Falls, and has been for a very long time. I dug up some old postcards from the early days of Heber Springs, both of Cornelius Falls and also of the nearby Bridal Veil Falls - there is no question which is which. I visited the real Bridal Veil Falls today as well and there was not really enough water flowing to take a picture, so I'll leave that one for another time. (Some photographer friends of mine, and others, have been posting photos of this falls online and calling it "Mystery Falls" - the mystery is no more, it is the real Bridal Veil Falls - more difficult to get to and it is all grown up around the base.) I love the name Bridal Veil, but Cornelius Falls is taller and much more scenic - and also a lot easier to get to. (If either go in the guidebook, both will.)


Cornelius Falls, 49' tall (beautiful even at low flow today!) - see the historical photo of it below, and also the photo of the real Bridal Veil Falls that is nearby.


My second stop was at a little cascading stream that is just lovely - not a waterfall really, but a series of cascades that are right next to a neat hiking trail. AND, through a little bit of engineering, the creek and cascades RUN ALL YEAR, EVEN IN THE SUMMER! What the Corps of Engineers did was pipe water from Greers Ferry Lake over to the creek, and now the creek gets a constant flow of water all year - also trout! One of the other neat things about the Collins Creek Trail and cascade, is that since the water is pretty cold (coming out from the bottom of the dam), it will often create mist, which almost always adds to the scene. I ended up spending nearly an hour taking pictures in the upper section of this cascade area, and then eventually hiked the rest of the half-mile trail on out to where it ends at the Little Red River. And then I decided I would be kind of smart and hike the road back out to the upper parking area where my car was, which turned out to be a LOT longer than simply hiking the trail back. Oh well, I needed to work off breakfast anyway. (By the way, this neat trail and cascade are in the newly-revised ARKANSAS DAYHIKES FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES guidebook, written by none other than my lovely bride and her daughter.)


The upper cascade of Collins Creek

MAY PRINTS OF THE MONTH. I got a little carried away when selecting a recent photo for this month and we will have FOUR different scenes for you to pick from at the special price during the month of May (print only, with a black mat, or with a white mat - 12 different combinations available). All I can say is WOW!!! Each image looks beautiful in print. I've included one of the rare wild orchid images, a really nice group of wildflowers and ferns, plus two waterfall photos. For anyone who wants one or more for Mother's Day next weekend, I'll be shipping these within 24 hours or less via First Class or Priority Mail. Order now at the special discounted price!

Speaking of prints, in a bitter/sweet moment this evening I had to say goodbye to two of my most favorite canvas prints of all time - a wide-screen print of Devil's Fork of Richland Creek just below Twin Falls that I took last October, and a five-foot tall print of Thunder Canyon Falls where it looks like there is golden light coming from within the waterfall - it is a stunning image that I won't get to look at any longer! I guess I could just make another one, but these big canvas prints are kind of like children to me since I spend so much time working with each one - I really do hate to see all of them go, but I guess the power company equally likes for me to pay the bill too!

Speaking of prints again, I wanted to let everyone know that you can come to Harrison on Friday, May 7th, and see kind of a mini-art exhibit, sort of. Artists William MaNamara, Kate Nessler, and myself, will all three have four original works of art each on display at the Durand Center during a reception and awards ceremony there. Tickets are $30 per person, and that includes a really fine banquet (since I'm going, that means you don't have to get really dressed up!). This Ozarks Ambassador Award banquet is being put on by the good folks at the North Arkansas College Foundation. For tickets, call 870-391-3159 ASAP.

Daylight is slowly seeping away from the wilderness tonight. No sunset, but we've had some nice light for the first evening in May. It is really still outside - no breeze or swaying trees or anything - kind of weird since the forest has been in constant motion here for several days. We have a chorus of FROGS blasting away all around the cabin. I'll be headed out into the woods again very early tomorrow so I'm hoping the frogs wear themselves out pretty soon!

And finally, I know that many of your have been writing or calling to report that our web page has been down - sorry about that! The issue is with one of the server's of our web site host, and it seems to be happing quite a bit this year. We may have to make a change somewhere along the line to see if we can get it fixed. In the meantime, all I can say is if you get a busy signal, please try back again later!

05/02/10 I was up again at 3-something this morning trying to look at the rain map for Arkansas - with and without glasses didn't seem to make much difference. While some parts of the state got a lot of rain yesterday, none of my target areas received enough to get the waterfalls up and running well for photos, and it looked like the skies may be sunny, so I crawled back up into the loft and went back to sleep.

I awoke to a perfect Cloudland morning filled with the laughter of singing birds, a sea of clouds below, ridgetops rising out of the sea, and blue skies above. Sitting out on the back deck sipping a cup of java it just seemed like the entire world was in harmony and at peace. The freshly-scrubbed air was so clean it looked as though I could reach out and touch the lush trees over on Beagle Point a half mile away. The air was so STILL - it was like I was sitting right in the middle of an Ansel Adams photograph (only in color). And far down below, underneath the blanket of pure-white clouds, a hushed lullaby drifted up from the river. And then I slapped myself on the head - I should have been out somewhere WORKING to capture this incredible moment with a camera! But then I guess I did, at least one moment of it, for you, as the deck cam.

I've been spending some time online lately browsing through many web sites where folks have been posting pictures of waterfalls and other things they've been taking pictures of. Some of the moments captured are just wonderful, and it is great that just about everyone has a digital camera these days so they can capture such moments. But, oh my gosh, many of the images are just, well, really BAD pictures! (sorry, blatant commercial happening) Not everyone can be Ansel Adams, but good grief, it is SO EASY to take those very same photos with the very same camera SO MUCH BETTER! All that is needed is a wee little bit of instruction in the proper way to take a picture. Anyone can do it. My beginner's class next weekend is tailer-made for anyone and everyone who owns a digital camera and who just doesn't know quite how to use it. We'll go through the basics from the ground up and will show you how to use the controls on your camera, along with a now few very simple techniques for improving your pictures a thousand percent. Guaranteed! Sign up now for my class before it is too late. (I may never teach another one of the beginner classes, so this may be your last chance. Hint. Hint...) If for no other reason, do it for the millions of people who view your pictures on Facebook! It really is that easy...

COUGAR SIGHTING. Just FYI, I got a report that a couger was sighted recently at the Richland Creek Campground (which remains closed). Seems like there are a lot more signthings in recent years and I can only assume that a) the cougar population is increasing, or b) that more people are getting out into the woods, yippie! Or it could be both.

05/03/10 Seems like I hike a lot slower these days than normal. Usually I can move through the forest at a pretty good clip and manage to see quite a few things, large and small. But lately, I'm finding that my pace is much slower and I'm looking not only ahead of me and around, but also down at my feet, and also up above too. My feet - I spend a good bit of time scanning the ground just ahead of my next footstep - just in case I'm about to ruin my day by stepping on a snake. And then I also am looking UP a lot more now - the brilliant, lush, spring GREENS are just wonderful to look at, plus they are backed by a PURE BLUE sky - I just can't soak it all in enough! And finally I must scan the entire landscape around me - not only to enjoy all of the flowering trees, moss-covered rocks, and other graphic details of the forest, but also to look for BEARS - 'tis the season to see these furry critters roaming about! It is a great delight to find yourself smack dab in the middle of the wilderness at any time of the year, but especially right now when everything is at its peak.

On the other side of that coin, I just spent about ten minutes making my way from the gallery print room back here to the cabin - carefully inching my way along. I forgot that it got DARK outside, and with no moon up right now, it really WAS dark out there! I normally move with ease through the nighttime forest, but this time of the year I have to be careful not to run into either a bear or a snake - since I can't really see either. And to make matters worse, the FROGS are just SCREAMING as loud as they can right now, and that would cover up any bear noises that I might hear. Oh, but otherwise it is very nice being outside in the woods in the dark right now.

I guess you could say this for just about anything that blooms right now, but my goodness the LOCUST trees are busting out with giant flowers right now - holy cow! Those are the trees that you see dotting the distant hillside and lining the highways - and in fact are the only tree that is blooming in the woods up here right now. They also have thorns, so if you reach in to grab one of the massive blooms, be careful. We are having such a LUSH springtime this year - and of course all that vegetation is sucking up all the water and making the waterfalls run a little bit less, but that is OK - we'll always get more rain.

Pam and I took down the center display panels in the gallery today and set up tables and chairs for my upcoming classes and workshops. It was kind of sad to have to take down all the big canvas prints on them - it has been quite a treat to get to walk past all of those on my way to and from my digital darkroom this past few months. Oh well, we'll put the panels and even more canvas prints back up again next fall (and there are still 40-something canvas prints up on the gallery walls). And in the meantime many of the canvas prints will be on the road to private and public showings in the next couple of months (including the big ArtFest in downtown Bentonville in June), and then again for two major print exhibits in Mena and Harrison towards the end of the year. (We will be at BOOKS IN BLOOM on May 16th in Eureka Springs too.)We'll have at least a couple of open houses next holiday season here as well, and the gallery will be filled with 70+ big canvas prints.

Besides workshops and classes and canvas printing, one of my main projects this month will be to put together the new picture book - ARKANSAS FALL. I've been working on taking the images for this book for several years, and in fact have many tens of thousands of fall photos that I have not even seen other than a quick look while downloading them from the memory cards into the computer. So it will be a grand contrast to all the GREEN that we have outside right now - my eyes and brain will be filled with the reds and yellows and oranges of fall photos. I'll have to end up with the best 120 or so by the end of May, then get the book layout done, all the images processed, and finally all of the captions and other text written and edited. I'm getting a month head start on this picture book, #11 for me, so we should get them in plenty of time for the fall slide programs that begin in November. (Besides the new fall photos slide program, I hope to have a second slide program with images from my trip to Iceland in August.)

All the white trees below are locust trees in bloom:



05/06/10 I made a quick trip down south to photograph a new species of yellow lady's slipper that had recently been described in Arkansas - the Kentucky yellow lady's slipper. It is larger than the other two yellow lady's slippers in the state, and is often not quite as bright yellow. Don Kurz gave me directions to a small group of them down in the Ouachitas that he recently photographed for his upcoming ARKANSAS WILDFLOWERS GUIDEBOOK, and of course I ran off and left the directions at home this morning! I knew the general areas where the flowers might be, so I turned off the highway and slogged around a little bit until I found a spot that just "looked" right. I spent about 20 minutes looking around and did not find anything. And then the little phone in my pocket went "ding" - Don had answered my MAYDAY call for help and sent the directions via e-mail. Turns out I was within 100 FEET of the wild orchids! I looked around a while and found more than 50 flowers, and many more plants than that. They were kind of hard to see in the bright sunshine that made the deep forest landscape kind of speckled with bright and dark spots all over, but this was indeed a very large patch of wild orchids and I was honored to get to spend some time with them.

Later on I motored over to a couple of prairies that I knew about to check on how wildflowers were blooming, and found some wild indigo and Indian paintbrush blowing in the wind. I've never seen the indigo blooming like it is right now - but then I guess you can say that about pretty much everything that blooms in Arkansas - one of the most incredible blooms ever on record for sure!

When I got back home tonight just before dark my lovely bride was waiting for me with some bad news - we were out of water. When you are on a well and in the middle of a drought, that is not something you want to hear! So I'm on water watch tonight and tomorrow and making frequent trips up the hill in the dark to restart our well pump manually - I'm hoping that our auto-pump device was blown up by recent storms instead of the well going dry. I may have to make a couple of trips into St. Paul tomorrow to fill up a big water tank (may have to drive into Fayetteville first to buy a new one) - a process that takes several hours each trip. So if I show up at the big banquet in Harrison tomorrow night (Friday) all sweaty, please understand!

Time for me to head up the hill again - but this time I'm going to install a set of EAR PLUGS - the frogs and the wind are both screaming/howling at full blast tonight!



Wild indigo (above), Indian paintbrush (below)



And a Kentucky yellow lady's slipper - much larger than the normal ones - first I've ever seen!

05/09/10 I kept looking out the window expecting to see a bear. There was not a thing stirring outside, and the light was really weird. No sounds at all. I stepped outside to look around. Nothing. It was like the world was in a vacuum - sort of a calm before the storm - and I expected to see a bear at any moment.

And something drew me into the woods - it was just a feeling that I sometimes get - wanting to go in there and be part of the forest, yet knowing it might be a mistake to venture away from the cabin. Before I knew it I was half-way up the hillside, standing in the middle of a broad, open, wilderness, with trees all around me, yet I could see far into the forest. I walked slowly, carefully, deliberately, feeling the ground first with my toe, and then gradually setting the rest of my foot down, sinking into the soft earth. Then I would slowly pick up the other foot in reverse - first the heel, the ball, and finally the toe. I was moving through the landscape like I was standing still - an old practice I taught myself while deer hunting as a kid. My eyes were ever scanning everything and everywhere, slowly from side to side to side, and then behind me, up and down, examining every leaf, every bush, looking for the slightest movement.

A CINNAMON BEAR in my mind materialized out of a large ball of clay-covered roots of a tree that was knocked over by the ice storm last year - there were many cinnamon bears about, yet none of them moved. Each dark stump became a black bear, motionless and just waiting for me to pass close enough. The forest was silent, and I could hear my chest pounding. It FELT like a bear was there somewhere!

I continued to ease ever so slowly up the hillside, going into thicker brush and out of the open maple grove, not making a sound, straining to hear soft, hairy, footsteps. It was dusky dark - still plenty of light to see by, yet dim enough to hide a bear.

And then THERE IT WAS! Right in front of me about 20 feet along the trail - COAL BLACK and as big as I'd ever seen! It was a giant steaming pile of bear scat!!! No doubt Mr. Bear had passed by within minutes. My heart raced. This scat was from a really big bear, one that most likely would have seen me moving up the hillside. Big bears are kind of like ghosts - mostly you can only see them when they want you to see them. We would meet one day, I hoped. But for now I would let him alone, and so I turned around and hiked back to the warmth and security of our log cabin. Good night Mr. Bear...

05/11/10 What a difference a day makes! Yesterday we had HEAVY fog here all day long, lots of WIND, and everything was wet and lush. It rained a little the night before, but not much. And speaking of water, our well is back up to normal, thanks to five days of pumping, and also the addition of 500 gallons of water and my lovely bride and I made the trek to St. Paul to get with our big water tank. Not sure what the problem was - probably electrical - and I'll install a new "pump tech" tomorrow and hopefully this will take care of the issue. It continues to amaze me how little water our girls use here, and how few drops they can get by with during a crisis!

I spent most of the day yesterday over in the print room, spraying big canvas prints, and getting into the process of sorting through tens of thousands of colorful (at times, almost blinding) images from fall in Arkansas the past few years. By late last night I had looked at everything from 2007 - 2009, and was working on 2006. I've pulled about 450 images so far, and will probably add a few dozen more as I make my way a few more years back. I'm limiting myself to brand new images for the entire book that have never been in one of my picture books before - WOW, I can't believe some of these images! You will be amazed...

Just before dark I shed my eyes of the glaring computer monitor, gathered up the dogs and cats, and headed out the door into the wilderness, which was moving and shaking and swaying to the music of the strong winds. But the fog was quite heavy too - I've always wondered how fog can stick around, seemingly not even moving, when the wind is blowing so hard? Perhaps the fog is the wind, or the other way around. Either way, it was WINDY, and FROGGY! (come to think of it, there was not a single frog singing)

Unlike the day before when my steps were slow, measured, and deliberate (and I was listening and looking for a bear), I moved easily and quickly through the forest in the dense fog as if I was being blown around like the trees without a care in the world. I was soaked to the bone since everything else was too, and the vegetation was so thick in the woods, but what did that matter - I could dry off later. The trees and underbrush were being tossed back and forth, and sometimes I went with them. But it was not violent - we were all having a grand time dancing in the wind! Nothing special to report during the hike - just a lot of wind and fog. I don't think I ever even thought about seeing a bear, although it would not surprise me if we passed more than one during the hike that lasted several miles.

We watched the approaching storm via radar on the computers and TV, and braced ourselves for the worst when the storm hit about 10pm. There was tons of lightning, and it rained some, but no damage, and hardly any of the deck furniture went flying. I had planned on a long day of waterfall hunting photography today, but after spending about 20 minutes consulting the rain maps of Arkansas, it appears that most areas of the state only got an inch or less of actual rain in the past 48 hours - a few isolated areas got more, but none that contained any waterfalls I was interested in. I'm hoping the water tables have been replenished now an the next rain event will produce some runoff, and some nice waterfalls. I will probably make a quick run out to see what I can find this morning, and let you know if anything is worth a photo!

Stepping back a few days, we had a splendid event at the Ozark Ambassador Award ceremony on Friday night in Harrison that was put on by the North Arkansas College Foundation. I couldn't believe how many people were there - the place was packed - but I guess the food was terrific and it was worth the trip! After the feast we all watched a movie of each of the three artists that were being honored, which was filmed by local filmmaker, Stefan Szabo. I never realized that one of the artists, Kate Nessler from Kingston, was such a world famous character - she spent two weeks in Price Charles' private residence doing a painting in his garden (she is an amazing painter, of course). And our friend and close neighbor, Billy McNamara, was rather eloquent on screen and in person too. It was great to see so many wonderful folks. And a special thanks to master photographer and all around good egg, Ray Scott, who made the long trip up from Little Rock with his lovely bride Susan for the event. My own girls made a major effort to get there - having spend the day at the regional softball tournament down on the other side of the Arkansas River in Scranton - somehow even being out of water for two days and unable to shower they both arrived fresh as daisies!

We had a great beginner class here on Saturday at the gallery with students from as far away as Magnolia, Springfield, and even Minnesota! We'll have a photo workshop this coming weekend, and then that will be it for the workshops until the Photoshop CS5 class here in late June. And on this coming Sunday we'll be at the Books And Bloom festival at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs - ALL of our books will be available at SPECIAL PROGRAM PRICES! It is a wonderful afternoon on the lawn of the Crescent (all free) where you can come meet many author celebrities (not just small fry like me, but some REAL authors!).

EVENING UPDATE. After taking another close look at the rain total web site for Arkansas I discovered that one entire drainage had received 2+ inches of rain - there was a significant waterfall in there that I needed to photograph, so within a few minutes I was all packed up and headed out the door. While two inches of rain right now would probably not be enough, I had hoped that the ground around would be saturated enough to get things up and flowing.

What I discovered when I hit the ground was that the forest had really grown up a LOT in the two weeks since I last visited this waterfall - oh my gosh, it was a JUNGLE in there! Made all the worse by thick ice damage. Funny thing about a lot of that ice damage - many of the big trees that were completely ripped right out of the ground have continued to grow, and so now instead of big trees growing ABOVE the ground, those same trees are now ON the ground and all leafed out! Fortunately it was cool and wet enough that I did not worry much about snakes - they don't like either condition. I did not see my feet for a couple of hours.

In trying to find my way through the jungle I swung on around the hillside and dropped down into a side drainage, hoping to find less jungle to wade through. In doing so I found another waterfall. I knew it would not be large, but it was SO THICK down in there I just had to go have a look to see what it looked like - it would also give me an idea how much water was on the ground and running.

I had to fight to reach the base of the waterfall, and when I got there I found a nice pool of water below and boulders surrounding it. And not very much water running at all. Bummer. The base of the bluff was cut back underneath quite a bit, especially for a waterfall this size (less than 20 feet tall), and the area reminded me of Pam's Grotto, only on a much smaller scale (I shall return when the water is high!). I had to duck and crawl but I made it back underneath part of the bluff that was hiding the right side of the waterfall - it was really neat back in there! Since the waterfall was not running all that much I did not take the time to use my big camera, but I made a few snapshots with my little camera. I ended up spending 20 minutes back under there - like a kid in a candy store! There was an active phoebe nest and it looked like the chicks were getting pretty large (remind me to tell you about the phoebe nest at the Gallery).

I was happy to find this little jewel all tucked away in the hillside, but not too happy about the lack of water - the main creek below would not have much more no doubt, but I continued on towards my goal anyway, and I'm glad that I did. Right there in the middle of all the GREEN JUNGLE, I came upon a little tree in FULL FALL COLOR! Every leaf was a perfect shade of salmon, with tiny green veins. Nothing else around was any color but green, only this one little tree - he decided he'd had enough of summer and was just going right on ahead with autumn! I looked close at the leaves and declared that it was one of the most beautiful leaves I'd ever seen - what with the pure color, all the green veins, and also the tiny serrations all along the edge. It was really a bright spot in the forest today!

The big waterfall was hardly running at all - keep this in mind when you see rainfall at this time of year - most everything that falls is sucked up by the vegetation that covers the landscape, leaving very little for surface runoff and waterfalls. If this same area were to get 2-3 inches of rain in another day or two with the ground already saturated, then we might have something. But those big thunderstorms like what rolled through last night really don't help the waterfall situation out too much - give me a hurricane to come sit here for a week any day!

At some point on my drive back home, as my daughter put it, I became a speed limit (55). The girls presented me with a chilled homemade chocolate pie for dessert - my favorite. A new waterfall, an amazing leaf, chocolate pie on my plate, and a beautiful lady to grow old with - this has been a very good day....


Here comes my chocolate pie! (Amber, Sonya, and my lovely bride - can you find Aspen?)

Below is a photo of a coreopsis flower in a field of hail-damaged daisies


05/13/10 I yelled at the boys who were working in the front yard and told them they had about ten minutes to put away all of their gear and run for cover! The TV said the storm would hit Boston in six minutes, and I figured it would only take another four minutes to reach us. I was out on the lower back deck with the nine minute mark came - I could see a wall of heavy rain entering the Whitaker Creek Drainage headed towards me - it hit the cabin 60 seconds later, right on schedule!

I don't think we got anywhere near the high winds that pounded my lovely bride while she huddled in her car under an overpass just north of Huntsville a few minutes before. In fact in five minutes all the rain was over and the storm had passed me by. Pam had to drive through deep hail in between Kingston and Boxley, where she was to pick up Amber from the bus. The school called at about this same time saying that the buses would not be "released" until the storm had passed - very good thinking on their part! The storm passed, the buses ran, and the girls got home safely. I went back to work at the computer next door.

Somehow the list of potential photos for the new Arkansas Fall picture book keeps GROWING - how does that happen! I've gone back through more than 100,000 photos for fall in Arkansas over the past decade and selected my favorite ones - which now number more than 600- yikes! I am slowly beginning to pare them down a little bit, and starting tomorrow I will have to get serious - the number needs to get down below 150. Talk about a kid in a candy store - every few minutes I open up a new file that I have pulled and get to view it in all its full color, and get to zoom in really close to see all the details. One problem I'm having right now is that I want EVERY photo to be a two-page spread in the book! But there will only be 9 of them - we must play favorites with our children all the time!

One of the pictures I looked at closely today was a photo of a TINY red mushroom - no more than about 1/4 inch tall. It was growing out of a lush mat of bright green moss, and has an acorn towering next to it. I recall the exact moment so many years ago when, down on my hands and knees crawling around on the forest floor looking for interesting things, I cried out for JOY when I came upon this little guy! On the other end of the scale, I took five pictures that I had taken last fall of Pam's Grotto waterfall during the peak of fall color and put them all together - the resulting image could be printed about ten feet wide! I'm not sure if it will be a double-page spread in the book or not - I hate to interrupt this scene with a gutter down the middle! So many other great scenes - gosh, we have had some TERRIFIC fall color this past few years here in Arkansas!

And oh my goodness, I have not even begun to dig deeply into the swamp photos - my, oh, my some of them are just SPECTACULAR! And you probably won't believe the color. I didn't either, and I was standing right there looking at it in person. This is going to be a tough book to put together.

Speaking of books, I'm working on the next picture book after this one as well and am trying to find the location of a showy lady's slipper to photograph. The guys who work for the state who know where they are won't tell anyone. They should be blooming in the next two weeks - if you know where I can find one to photograph (just for a photo, not in any guidebook of course), there might be a sainthood in it for ya.

We've not had hardly any rain this past couple of weeks in the Ozarks (seems kind of crazy, but true), and most waterfalls are not running very well. But the ground should be getting saturated in a lot of areas now with the spotty rains we've had of late, so if we ever do get a really nice, long, soaking rain for a day or two, waterfalls should come up and run well for a little while - but it will take many inches in a given area. In the meantime, some of the waterfalls that are on the main streams and/or in the bottom of watersheds still look pretty nice - like Kings River Falls and Falling Water Falls.

The frogs are screaming so loud that I can hardly type - time to go crawl up into the loft and see if I can shut them out somehow - ah yes, the QUIET of the wilderness! Oops - the frogs just stopped. That means something is approaching - a dog (both in bed), person (not likely), raccoon (probably not), or a BEAR! Or maybe one of them can read and is sitting on the window of the cabin looking over my shoulder and just wants me to sleep tight - so he told all his frog buddies to pipe down. I'll drift off with that thought in mind...

05/16/10 TWELVE YEARS AGO TODAY I wrote the first words to this Journal. HOLY COW - can you believe it has been THAT LONG?! This is the longest running Journal on the internet.

05/18/10 Just a quick post to try and update the past few days. The big storm that rolled through late Friday night brought the first really good rain that we've had here in a LONG time - and it brought the level of the Buffalo River WAY up, filling all the creeks and waterfalls. We had to go to plan C or D for our photography workshop on Saturday morning, and ended up shooting for a couple of hours in the rain - not something I normally do, but we had no choice. I was quite astonished when EVERYONE in the workshop got some amazing photos to print - despite the terrible shooting conditions - way to go guys! It was a delightful group, as always.

We spent Sunday at the big book event in Eureka Springs - and while we did not sell very many books - the folks we met and old friends that dropped by was well worth missing what was perhaps the very best waterfall shooting day of the year - so MANY wonderful people! For anyone who is a reader, my goodness, I don't know of another event like this in the area where so many talented authors are under one roof and are available for conversation.

On the way home from Eureka I realized that it might be possible for me be able to photograph one waterfall before the end of the day. My plan to was hike (actually RUN) into the wilderness and try to get a photo of the waterfall in the fading evening light - it was a photo that I HAD to get, and this might be my only chance. So when we got home I unpacked the truck and loaded up my camera gear and sped off. By the time I had arrived at the trailhead the sun had already set and what we call "dusky dark" was beginning to set in. I strapped on my camera pack and trotted on down the trail, splashing all the way (there was a LOT of water on the trail - that was a good sign!). This was not the smartest photo excursion I've ever launched, but I was on a mission, driven, and nothing was going to stop me.

30 minutes later I had reached the base of the waterfall - after a difficult scramble down a very steep and rocky hillside. Only the first part of this trip was on a trail - the rest was fighting through the Ozark jungle. I was out of breath for a couple of reasons - one, 'cause I am old and fat and out of shape and the run into the wilderness area wearing a heavy camera pack and big tripod - especially after an already long weekend of work. And two, because the sight before me was absolutely GORGEOUS! The waterfall was running full tilt exactly as I had hoped. The only problem - the light was GONE. It was nearly dark.

I hustled around and tried to find a composition for my photograph, but each time I found one, I was unable to use that due to the heavy spray from the thundering waterfall before me - no way to keep the front of the lens dry long enough to take a picture. But then I did find a great spot where the spray was not reaching, but it required me to set up the tripod and stand in waist-deep water. When I finally got everything set up and ready to shoot I realized that I was mingled in with the limbs of an umbrella magnolia tree that had fallen into the pool - the giant leaves where all around me, AND the FLOWERS were in FULL BLOOM! Hum, that is when I realized that it smelled like the tropics - those giant flowers were wearing some heavy perfume!

Just then I noticed that it was so dark that I would be unable to take the photo - oops! Wow, so there I was after a struggle to get there and conditions were perfect, but I had no light. And then I realized that I was not alone. All of a sudden the waterfall began to GLOW - it came to life right before my eyes in the darkness - oh my goodness!!! And it sent a shiver right through me. There is no other explanation - it was David Hadlock running the controls up in heaven, and he directed a little bit of sunshine to awaken and light up the western sky, bouncing some of it off high clouds and right on down to the waterfall. This waterfall was the last thing that David saw during his time here on earth, and it was what I believe he was headed to when he fell and died a couple of months ago. David never got to take the picture that he was after, and now it was up to me to complete his mission - I considered this one of the most important photographs that I would ever take. The camera seemed to work itself, and ten minutes later I had a hundred photos of Hadlock Cascade. Thanks David!

And then the magic was done - and along with it ALL of the light. I hurriedly packed up my camera gear and started the scramble back up the steep hillside - my biggest problem being the fact that I was in such a hurry to recycle back at the cabin that my flashlight was hanging on the wall rack right next to the front door - oops again! No moon, but I did seem to have just enough starlight to enable me to see my way through the dense forest - well kind of anyway. I ran into many trees and rocks. Once I got back up on top of the big bluffline that runs through the area and back on the trail I could make better time, although in the deep woods there was not much of that starlight that got through.

After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the very top of the hill and it was level walking all the way back to the truck. However, just before I completed my trek, I heard movement in the thick brush directly in front of me - HOLY COW I nearly had a heart attack! A bear could have easily eaten me, but it turned out to be just an armadillo!

(I felt kind of bad about this trip since I had promised one of David's sons that I would take him with me when I did this photo since he is a photographer too, but it was so last-minute and turned out to be a very difficult and dangerous hike and was best done alone - Buck, I hope you understand!)

So to Rebecca, here is my small contribution to David's wonderful life, and one that I hope will help folks realize what a terrific person he was. His spirit will forever flow in the wilderness and bring great joy to many who follow him there for generations to come.


Hadlock Cascade

I was back up and out again and standing at the base of a thundering waterfall by first light Monday morning. The hike down into this waterfall was pretty tough due to having to climb around, over, and through a great deal of ice storm debris. But the trip was well worth it. I've known about this waterfall for a dozen years and should have included it in the original waterfall guidebook - it would rate a solid five stars for sure - Native American Falls. I photographed the "mini" grotto nearby on my way out that I had discovered last week. And then I humped it on out of the canyon and sped off to photograph another waterfall, Fern Falls.

Then I pointed my truck south and spent the rest of the day down in the Ouachitas, or more specifically hunt one waterfall that I had heard about but had never been to. It was high up on a big mountain - I guess it is the most northern of all the great mountain ridges in the Ouachitas. It was BRIGHT and hot with a clear blue sky above - not good for photography, but oh well, if I could at least find this waterfall I would be all set to run back down to photograph it next time.

Two things I noticed after spending some time driving and hiking on this day - first, the forest roads seem to be MUCH better than ours up here in the Ozarks. And second, much, MUCH easier bushwhacking through the forest that is not a jungle of ice storm debris!

I located the waterfall I was after - found two additional ones first. This waterfall is one of the most beautiful in all of the Ouachitas - well worth the trip! And as I stood there admiring the view, a big cloud drifted over the sun - the lighting was PERFECT for my photo! One problem though - my camera gear was back up the hill in the truck! And hour later another big cloud drifted in front of the sun and I was back at the waterfall with camera and got the photo that I needed for the guidebook. I've been waiting on this one for a long time. Mitchell Falls. YIPPIE!

A final destination for the day was a short and easy one near the base of Mt. Magazine - in fact you can drive right up to it! Most of the weekend rain had missed the area and so conditions were perfect (too much water would not have looked good for my photo.) This series of cascades on Big Shoal Creek will be a perfect play spot for kids and photographers alike.

When I returned home late last night I found the crew of boys working frantically on the water feature in our front yard. We had to shut down this water feature a couple of years ago for several reasons, the least of which being the fact that between Aspen and the big owls in the area, most of our coy fish had been eaten. Plus it was a nightmare to keep the pond maintained. So we decided to convert the pond into a marsh of sorts - no standing water actually, just piles of rocks and gravel - but kept the waterfall and creek so we still get the movement and the sound. It was nearly 11pm when they finished the job and we turned on the waterfall - and it worked!

I'm one tired puppy, but the clear skies today will give me some time to catch up with office chores that have been piling up - did I say catch up - I really mean make a little dent in them!


A starry view from the back deck before I headed out early Monday morning


Fern Falls (above left), Mitchel Falls (above right)


Mini Grotto (above), Native American Falls (below)



Big Shoal Cascades (above). Pam is trying to "horn" in me with this artistic photo below of one of the "big boy" elk that spends the summer up here on Cave Mountain - she got a new camera for Mom's day!


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