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Cecil Bluff
October 28, 2011
Cold pizza was a pretty good breakfast. I'd crawled out of the sleeping bag in the back of the Tahoe and drank a couple cups of coffee from the thermos to clear the cobwebs. I was hoping the moisture from yesterday's rains would fill the Buffalo River valley with fog. I pulled out from the Compton Trailhead around 6 and drove about a half mile down the road to the sign indicating the boundary of the national park service property.
On the return hike from Antenna Pine two weeks earlier, I'd found a really nice overlook above Cecil Hollow, and now I was going to return to catch the sunrise.
My third hike along the path was much more efficient, since I'd learned to detour around several Sumac thickets. But the hike in the dark still took over an hour, and I made it to the overlook just a couple of minutes before sunrise.
I was right... the valley was covered in a blanket of thick fog. And as the sun rose over Mutton Point the tops of the billowy fog turned a soft pink, while the lower areas of fog reflected the cool blue color of the overhead sky.
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I stayed for about an hour, soaking in the awesome spectacle and occasionally taking pictures as the scene changed. I made sure to take some shots while zoomed in on the Antenna Pine bluff on the other side of the hollow.
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I hiked back to the Tahoe and drove back west to Highway 43, then headed south toward Ponca. The hollows above Ponca Creek were also filled with fog, and the surrounding trees were a colorful mixture of reds, golds, and greens. I pulled off the highway to snap some photos, and soon after another car pulled up and a lady got out to do the same.
I went to Steele Creek recreation area to take in the sights. The fog had quickly dissipated, and the sun was a little too high for great photos, but it was still a beautiful place to be. I made my way down to the river below the massive rock pedestal at the downstream end of Roark Bluff, and shot some photos looking up. Then I walked out into the middle of the big field and just sat down to enjoy the wide open view of Roark Bluff, the line of Sweetgums, and the big sky. I took a couple of photos that really don't do the scene justice, but at least they're enough to make me recall that awesome morning.
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