Showing posts from January, 2014

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.

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.

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 Rylan

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...

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 clif