Dec. 28, 2003

I'll have the sun over that way, please. That's right, a little more to the left. Little more. Hold it, perfect. Turn up the water in the falls now. Good, good. Oop, too much, back it off a little, please. Good. Now, let's make pictures.

It doesn't work that way, of course. Light falls where it falls, trees are where they are, and water can't flow through your picture unless it's fallen out of the sky first, and if enough of it hasn't fallen lately to suit you, well, you can always complain to the National Weather Service.

So if you have an idea for a picture of Glory Hole falls and you need the sun way down in the south and just above the hilltop on the west side of the ravine, what do you do? You wait for a sunny December afternoon. And of course it would be nice if there was a generous flow of water through the falls. So you wait for a sunny December afternoon the day after a generous December rain.

You guessed it. Monday it rained. Tuesday was chilly and sunny; so about noon I grabbed Junie and my camera gear and motored down Highway 16 to the Glory Hole trail, and by about 2:10 had my tripod set up with the camera on top. Unfortunately we're a little behind on our rainfall quota this year, and the falls weren't running all that well even after the rain, but I decided to take the best picture I could anyhow. And then some year when everything is perfect, I'll go back and take the perfect photograph, right?

I shot this and that and here and there, a roll all told. Some of it worked and some of it didn't, which is how these things usually go. I missed one shot I wanted because I twiddled too long and the light, i.e., the sun, moved on me and stopped lighting up a critical part of the composition, which is also how these things go. After the sun fell behind the hill, we went up on top of the falls and worked our way back up the creek a little, and I shot some more frames at dusk of pools of water in the bedrock of the creek bed. We walked back up the trail in failing light, and by the time we came to the car, there was just a very thin line of orange on the western horizon topped by an almost black dark blue sky.

On Friday Junie and I set out on a cloudy and cool afternoon to hike back through those dark pine woods to work our way over to the bluffs we had seen near the end of our previous hike in Falling Rock Hollow. We discovered that they did have quite a view into the hollow and of the mountains to the south, but that the terrain behind them was steeply sloped, making them extremely dangerous. Deceptive, too, especially to a dog, in that although you might be well back from the edge and apparently in no danger, one slip in the loose soil of that sloping terrain would leave you with little chance of recovering before you slide off the edge. It was a place like that that almost got my old Darby a few years ago. If I ever come back here to take photographs, I'll be leaving Junie at home.

We also discovered that we were just a few steps away from a part of the OHT that I hiked this past summer with Sophie. I remember as we walked by it then looking out across the hollow and thinking I'd like to go exploring down there sometime, but it'd be nice to find a way into it other than straight down that hillside. Well, we did.

Saturday was warm, breezy, and cloudy, and a morning walk along Lake Fayetteville with Frankie and Sophie was dominated by blues, blue clouds with white fringes, and the blue water of the lake. Now and then the sun would peek through, lighting up the choppy surface of the water and forming a broadway of lights across the water for the eye to stroll along.

Sophie's wound is completely healed over now, but it still seems to be bothering her some, since towards the end of our walks she'll pick up her leg now and then and carry it for a step or two. I'm hoping that soon she'll be back in shape to resume our hikes along the OHT.

By the way, whenever I talk about this trail or that trail, the Ozark Highlands Trail or the Buffalo River Trail, or what have you, odds are almost dead certain that I wouldn't even know of the trail without Tim Ernst's guide books. On the off chance that you've made it to this page without already knowing about them, allow me to enlighten you. If you want to know about hiking in Arkansas, the bottom line is you need to get Tim Ernst's trail guides. I own and use them all, and often will carry one in my pack out on the trail. I haven't picked up the latest one yet by Tim's wife Pam, with help from Tim and their daughter Amber, but I figure it's just a matter of time before I'll need it for one reason or another. I understand it's a trail guide for children and old folks, and since I qualify on both counts there, I figure it's a natural for me.

The times being the times, I guess I can't say something like that without a disclaimer. I don't have any commercial relationship with Tim and don't know the gentleman. I think I saw him once, though, ducking into a van at the Low Gap store back in 1997. I remember because I had been photographing in the Indian Creek drainage that morning and was about to drive off down the highway to go somewhere else for the afternoon, and as I was passing the road that leads down to the Steele Creek campground, I spotted a dog under the arch there, which struck me as somewhere where only a homeless dog would be loitering since there aren't really any homes close by. I stopped and gave her a little food and, having talked myself into believing that she would make her way home, was driving off when I spotted her running after me. So there it was. I spent the afternoon driving up and down dirt roads in the area trying to find someone who would claim her, and eventually found a fellow who said he had seen her hanging around the Low Gap store trying to scrounge meals and who had given her something to eat a time or two. Whoever dumped her should have shot her instead, he said. Would have been a mercy to her, I said.

Anyway, that convinced me she was homeless, and I took her home and gave her a home and named her Frankie. As I write this, she is curled up asleep beside me, neither starved nor shot, but pretty darn chubby, as a matter of fact.