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Cloudland
April 24, 2004

I spent most of the day indoors at a great digital photo seminar at Tim Ernst's cabin in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness. But there were some unforgettable sights when I was outside or at least had a view outside.
To start with, the drive up that morning occurred at the end of one of the heaviest rainfalls on record for the region - over 12 inches in three days. I was almost to St. Paul when it started getting light enough to see. Up in the woods there were white cascades and waterfalls tumbling down the hillsides everywhere. I pulled off Highway 23 inside St. Paul to check out the low water bridge over the White River. Normally the bridge is a good six feet above the water. This morning the bridge was nowhere to be seen, submerged under at least six feet of rushing brown water that looked to me like millions of gallons of chocolate milk.
For the photo shoot portion of the workshop, we got in the vehicles and drove a short way up the private road that Tim and his neighbors share, to an area they call the north field. From there we hiked across the field, past the Woods boys cabin and down an old road bed before making a sharp right turn off the road and straight down the hill toward Dug Hollow. I had hoped to take some snapshots along the way, but it was either drizzling or water was dripping off the trees so I had to keep my camera tucked away. The waterfall we came to was just astounding (the picture at the top of this page is of one side of it). Obviously it was flowing much greater than normal.
Once back at the cabin, we all gathered upstairs and loaded our pictures into either our own laptops or one of Tim's Power Macs (the pictures below are from that segment of the workshop). The idea was for the students to pick out their best four or five pictures, then the class would go downstairs and take a look at everyone's pictures on the big screen. I only shot four scenes, so it didn't take long for me to pick mine out (below are the three other scenes I shot).
The most memorable scene of the day for me was off the back deck of Cloudland Cabin. It was so much more amazing in person than any of the pictures I'd seen. The steep mountain they call Beagle Point, although a half mile away, was just right there in your face and filled the right half of the view. Just to the left of the point was the view upstream of the Buffalo River valley and the many mountains on either side. Then down the mountain to the left was the flooded river itself, roaring with brown water and whitecaps. It was one of the most magnificent views I've ever seen in the wilderness. I didn't take any pictures though, because I knew the camera couldn't capture the essence of it all. I think I'll be coming up more often to take in the view at Hawksbill Crag, just a short distance away on the same mountainside.
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