Photographer Gathering
April 15-17, 2011
I had a great weekend with fellow nature photography enthusiasts in an organized gathering of two online photography forums, the Arkansas Photographers Network and the Central States Nature Photographers. We camped two nights at Fairview Campground on Highway 7 just north of Sand Gap.
I took off work that Friday to get in an extra day of waterfall hunting. For over a year I'd had my eye on some promising topography in the Indian Creek headwaters south of Sand Gap. Coincidentally, the parking spot was only two miles from Fairview Campground. I followed a small drainage downhill, and had only gone 500 feet when I came to an interesting little waterfall spilling over the top of an undercut shelter. I followed the drainage downhill a quarter mile to where it joined the main stream of Indian Creek, which ran steeply down the mountainside. I noticed a long cascade just upstream to my right and went up to investigate.
Going back downhill, I came to the top of Native American Falls, which Randy Wilson had found last Spring. Tim Ernst had visited the 40-foot waterfall later, and published a photo with the name on his Cloudland web site
One hundred yards below the big waterfall, the stream entered a miniature slot canyon. Immediately below it, the water dropped over a ledge in a beautiful 6-foot waterfall with several boulders at its base.
At that point, I had only bushwhacked half a mile from the highway. My plans had been to continue downstream six tenths of a mile farther, but negotiating the steep terrain and taking pictures had taken over four hours. It was almost 3 o'clock, so I decided to start heading back. I crossed the stream and headed up the mountainside on the north side about 100 yards to check out where a small side drainage met some steep terrain. I was hoping to find a waterfall, but it turned out to be a 12-foot-tall cascade.
I headed back up the Indian Creek canyon, staying well above the stream. That route was much easier than the one of the south side and I made great time. Up above Native American Falls, I stopped to photograph a double cascade, where water from the side drainage I'd followed down from the highway poured into the main stream of Indian Creek. I followed that side drainage back up to the highway. I was worn out by the time I got to the Tahoe! I had been down in there for over 5 hours, and a lot of that terrain was quite rugged.
I drove to Fairview and found Jan Harrison waiting for others from our group to show up. He offered me a beer and we sat in our vehicles for over an hour talking. Around dark the other participants started pulling in. Zack Andrews, Brian Cormack, David Gillson, Mike and Karla Hall, Matthew Kennedy, Tom Kennon, Rod Kissinger, and Gale Rainwater had all been out in the wilderness around streams and waterfalls that day. I didn't get a chance to talk to Bryan and Haley Simpson or David Martin to find out if they had gone out that day, and Bob Wyatt arrived at camp early the next morning.
The temperature dropped into the low 40s and strong winds blew through the ridge-top camping area. It was cold! Thankfully we had a big fire going. I made a pig of myself on the barbecue dinner Mike and Karla brought. Once we had decided when we would leave for photo shoots the next morning, I snuck off to the Tahoe to go to bed. I finally figured out how to make a comfortable bed in the back of the Tahoe, by layering an egg crate foam pad and a backpacking air mattress under a heavy full-size sleeping bag.