2014/01/31

Cane Creek, Fall Creek Falls State Park

This is one of my favorite photo shoots that I've ever done. It was during a week whose mean temperature was 27°.
Fall Creek Falls State Park was empty. There was no evidence that anyone was at the park at all; no cars, and no footprints in the scattered shallow snow that covered the ground. There are few things in the world that I love more than having a place to myself. And because this was a solo trip, I absolutely was by myself.
Donning gloves, I descended the cable trail to get to the base of Cane Creek Falls. I hope these photos convey the sense of beauty that I enjoyed there that day.
Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen 1, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen 2, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Cane Creek Falls frozen, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 1, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 1, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 2, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 3, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Cane Creek Falls frozen detail, Chuck Sutherland, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 6, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 4, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 5, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls frozen detail, Chuck Sutherland, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee Rockhouse Falls and Cane Creek Falls frozen detail 2, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, TennesseeCane Creek Falls frozen detail 3, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren County, Tennessee

2014/01/27

Cumberland Plateau Archaeology

Jay Franklin of ETSU invited me to document an ongoing dig in Pickett State Forest. In a relatively small shelter, he and his team found a bedrock mortar where Native Americans would have processed foods. They found numerous points, and layers of stratified ash between sand indicating repeated use over long periods of time. I will update this post with better and more accurate data once I read any forthcoming publications regarding the site.
Bedrock mortar hole, rock shelter excavation, Jay Franklin, Picket State Forest, Picket County, Tennessee
Rock shelter excavation, Jay Franklin, Picket State Forest, Picket County, Tennessee
Rock shelter excavation 1, Jay Franklin, Pickett State Forest, Pickett County, Tennessee
Rock shelter excavation 2, Jay Franklin, Pickett SF, Pickett County, Tennessee

2014/01/26

Verble Hollow

During the polar vortex of 2014, Kristen Bobo, Emily Davis, and Greer Crabtree hiked to Verble Hollow. Access is difficult and hampered by numerous cliffs. Gaps have to be found, climbing has to be done, gear has to be protected. Sufficient clothing for a trip in these frost conditions is difficult enough to travel in. In addition, I had caving gear, and photography gear.

After a few hours we arrived at our destination. From a cave a stream emerges, plunges 80 feet, and disappears into another cave. This feature is known as a karst window in geology. What that really means is that geomorphologically, the caves used to be a single system, but collapse has provided a "window" into them. Karst windows crop out pretty much anywhere you have cave systems. What is special about this one, is that it is one among just a handful of other features which reveals not just a stream, but a waterfall. Other better known examples of this include Lost Creek Falls, Virgin Falls, and Rylander Cascades (Dry Creek Cave Falls).

At the time of the shooting of this waterfall, I know of only one other set of photos of it on the internet, and those were also taken by me. To then get photos of it covered in ice was a really special event.

In addition to enjoying the waterfall, we also explored several of the caves in the area. They were all small with plenty of crawling. Across from Verble Hollow Falls Cave, we encountered dozens of tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus, aka "pips" from their previous, though incorrect scientific name Pipistrellus subflavus). Their heavy presence near the entrance of the cave we speculated was the result of white nose syndrome.

Unnamed waterfall, Emily Davis, Greer Crabree, Putnam County, TennesseeIce cone, Putnam County, TennesseeVerble Hollow Falls 1, Putnam County, TennesseeUnnamed waterfall, Putnam County, Tennessee
Verble Hollow Falls 2, Putnam County, TennesseeLower Verble Hollow Falls Cave twilight, Greer Crabtree, Putnam County, TennesseeLower Verble Hollow Falls Cave, Kristen Bobo, Putnam County, TennesseeLower Verble Hollow Falls Cave, Greer Crabtree, Putnam County, TennesseeAcross from Verble Hollow Falls Cave, Perimyotis subflavus, Greer Crabtree, Putnam County, TennesseeUnnamed creek, frozen, Putnam County, TennesseeUnnamed creek detail, frozen, Putnam County, Tennessee

2014/01/13

Fall Creek Falls amphitheater covered in ice and snow

It was relatively warm on January 8th, 2014 when I went to Fall Creek Falls. After several days of temperatures hovering around 0 - 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -15C to everyone not in the United States) a jump to just above freezing genuinely felt warm.
I hiked to the bottom of the falls, removing a substantial amount of debris from the trail; Frost covered trees unable to hold their own weight break, and fall down to the trail below, icicles and ice dropping from the cliffs above, even a few rocks.
But the pictures... That's why you're here, right? That's why I was there. Check this out...
Fall Creek Falls 1, winter, Fall Creek Falls SP, Van Buren Co, TN
Fall Creek Falls 1, winter detail, Fall Creek Falls SP, Van Buren Co, TN
Fall Creek Falls detail 3, winter, Fall Creek Falls SP, Van Buren Co, TN
Fall Creek Falls detail 4, winter, Fall Creek Falls SP, Van Buren Co, TN
Fall Creek Falls detail 5, winter, Fall Creek Falls SP, Van Buren Co, TN

2014/01/05

Honey Creek Loop Trail, Big South Fork NRRA

Honey Creek is a difficult trail that weighs in at 5.6 miles. Don't bother with trekking poles, as your hands often need to be holding onto rocks, limbs, and roots to properly negotiate the trail. In a few locations the trail passes through boulders and it takes some creative spelunking to get through.
It was very cold yesterday when Alan Cressler, Jeff Moore, and I hiked Honey Creek. It had been 7 years since my previous visit and I tried to remember what to expect, but aside from the memory of frequently loosing the trail and several stream crossings, I couldn't recall the specifics.
Specifically, the western portion of the trail cuts through some amazing canyons dotted with waterfalls and rock shelters, while the eastern portion has amazingly huge cliffs (120+ feet) and passes by the Big South Fork River. It's a great place to feel tiny.
And tiny I was beside such immense geology. I was even tiny compared with some of the icicles forming at the lip of the cliffs above me. Several times throughout the day we heard loud crashing sounds which I could only suspect were large bundles of icicles crashing to the ground.
I took a few pictures of the trip. I hope you enjoy them.
Honey Creek Falls 3, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott Co, TN
Honey Creek Falls North Fork Honey Creek 2, sandstone, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott Co, TN
North Fork Honey Creek
Ice below Hideout Falls, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott Co, TN
Ice below Hideout Falls
Icicles in rock shelter, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott Co, TN
Icicles in a Rock Shelter
Indian Rockhouse Nr1 twilight, Big South Fork NRRA, Scott Co, TN
Indian Rockhouse