Photographer Gathering
April 23-25, 2010
Spring rains arrived just in time for a gathering of participants in an online photography forum, the Central States Nature Photographers. This year we camped at Fairview, a forest service campground on Highway 7 just north of Sand Gap.
I drove up Friday after work, pulling off the highway downstream of Haw Creek Falls to walk down to the creek and photograph a scenic little chute. I stayed until dark then continued on to the campground.  The nine photographers already there (Zack Andrews, Brian Cormack, Mike and Karla Hall, Matthew Kennedy, Rod Kissinger, Dottie Lloyd, Bryan and Haley Simpson) made room for me around the big fire they had going. We shared stories and discussed possible shooting locations for the weekend.
I retired to the back of the Tahoe for the night. A group got up early the next morning and drove to Richland Creek and made the tough hike to Twin Falls, which was running well. They got some great pictures before a heavy rain came through. I would have gone with them except I'd already signed up to join a group from the Ozark Society on a trip to the Penitentiary area up Whiteley Creek near Boxley. I drove to the rendezvous point on Highway 21 but no one ever showed up; the hike had been cancelled but I had no way of finding out. That heavy rain moved through and I drove around for a long time sightseeing, then I returned to camp.
The rain let up about the time the final attendee, Jon Wisniewski, pulled in. Being the only ones at camp, and not knowing when anyone else would return, we decided to go find a waterfall. We drove north to Lurton then took dirt roads to a spot about a half mile south of Icledo Gap. We bushwhacked west downhill hoping to find Dogwood Falls in the headwaters of East Fork Cave Creek. Hiking and waterfall photography conditions turned bad as the clouds started breaking up to let in the midday sunlight. The hillside was very steep and choked with thick spring vegetation and debris from the January 2009 ice storm. When we finally made it to a spot above the falls, Jon exclaimed "Is that a basketball down there!?". Surely not, I thought. "No, it must be a balloon" I answered. But when I took a better look at the brown ball bobbing in the pool at the base of the falls, sure enough, there were the telltale black ribs.
Jon had the great idea of renaming the beautiful location Basketball Falls. After all, we sure didn't see any dogwoods! We decided to leave the ball there for the next visitor to puzzle over. On the drive back we debated how in the world a basketball would find its way there.
At camp we ate a late lunch, then Jon, Brian, and I drove up Highway 7 to Cowell then took dirt roads northeast to Hudson Shelter. The falls that run over the front of the massive bluff shelter weren't running very well, and there was a lot of debris around them, but it was still an amazing place. Next we drove to a new waterfall Randy Wilson had found, Lonesome Hollow Falls. The Umbrella Magnolia trees below the waterfall were full of huge white blooms.
We had a great dinner that night, even though we had to squeeze in under a couple of canopies to escape another round of heavy rain that moved through. I was tired from the day's hikes and went to bed early. I opened the back window a bit to let the cool, damp air in. It felt great.