Apr. 4, 2004

Depending on where you are in Arkansas right now you could find spring well underway, with trees and shrubs greening up and blooming, or you might be faced with a spring without much spring in it yet and still looking a lot like winter.

Saturday I was feeling lazy and was getting around slow and decided it sounded like more fun to sit on my rear end and drive for six hours round trip than to get out and do some hiking. So Junie and I headed south to my favorite spot along the Talimena Scenic Byway to see what I could do about getting another sunset shot or two from there. Driving south was sort of like speeding up time because the farther we went the deeper into spring we got and the greener things got, and even some of those dismal towns here and there along the way took on a cheery and optimistic aspect. As we were going up to Rich Mountain from Mena I even saw a dogwood in full bloom, but the stunted oaks up on the mountaintop where I stopped and waited for sunset were still bare.

Down in the valley off in the direction of sunset there was a great column of smoke pouring up from the woods, and although a breeze was bending it out of the area I wanted to shoot, it was still much hazier than I would have liked it to be. Still, haze can be your friend, both by encouraging a colorful sunset and by cutting back on the brightness of the sun some as it approaches the horizon. So while Ella (very quietly) cried me a river on the car stereo, I squeezed off a few dozen shots of a rapidly changing sunset, then went to another overlook and took several more shots at dusk.

Sunday, the spirit had good intentions about getting up early enough for some sunrise shots at White Rock Mountain, but the flesh decided that, screw it, three hours was not enough sleep. Consequently, when I finally did get up, I had to figure out a plan B and decided to motor down that lonesome Highway 16 and see how spring was shaping up in that direction. Unfortunately, except for the blooming shrubs and trees, it was like driving back into winter. Even when we veered up to Boxley Valley, things were not as far along there as I expected them to be.

So I decided to head south, back to Hurricane Creek and Heathcock Hollow. But on the way there we ended up spending most of the afternoon exploring different spots along West Fly Gap Road, and one of the places I found I decided to come back to late in the afternoon when the light would be good. I intended to make it back in time to catch the long shadows moving across the valley and up the opposite hill, but as usual, I was a little late getting there and had to settle for shooting during dusk. The picture above was one of the ones I took there, and is of a southward facing view of Cove Creek valley. The hill to the left is Whiting Mountain, and part of the Ozark Highland Trail is on its opposite face. The trail also goes for a couple of miles along the side of that flat-topped hill in the middle, following the bed of an old abandoned logging railway for much of that distance.