Daniel at Pam's Grotto

Daniel at Pam's Grotto
Daniel at Pam's Grotto

Friday, August 6, 2010

5-21 Brown Creek Cascade, Forked Mountain Falls and Twist Cascade

I left work on a Friday and went to pick up Daniel.  We headed out Hwy 10 west of Little Rock.  There were a few waterfalls out in the Ouachita Mountains that I wanted to explore.

Brown Creek Cascade
This is Brown Creek Cascade.  It was pretty easy to get to, about 10 minutes on foot.  Unfortunately there were a bunch of trees down across the top.  This place is pretty close to Flatside Pinnacle. (0.8 sec, f-22, ISO800)

We headed next to Forked Mountain Falls.  It was almost a mile of walking up and down along an old Forest Service road, parallel to the stream, but pretty easy, although we had a hard time finding it because we didn't use a GPS. The stream was pretty loud from where we were, which makes me want to go back to see what is down there. We did see a snake on the road, but I don't think he liked us.

Forked Mountain Falls
This waterfall lies in the shadow of Forked Mountain. (Hence, the name.  Duh.)  It was about 7:20 when I shot this, with the setting sun behind us. (1.6 sec, f-22, -.67, ISO100)

Since it was so late, I couldn't decide if we should try for Twist Cascade.  It is almost another mile past Forked Mountain Falls, in a different watershed.  Daniel really wanted to go for it, so we did. We took our shoes off and crossed the creek on top of  Forked Mountain Falls. There wasn't much of a  trail so it was a medium bushwhack, a little tough for a 6 year old.  Fortunately someone had left flagging tape in the trees that helped guide us. 

I was breaking trail for Daniel, mostly through cobwebs and briers. The Guidebook called for a creek crossing, but I didn't want to stop to take our shoes off again, so we followed the creek for a while without crossing.  It seemed there was a reason the guidebook didn't tell us to go that way.  It was pretty rough.  Eventually we got to a spot where we could cross without getting our feet wet.  (Well, mine anyway since Daniel just plowed right across.)  We had to cross the creek again before we got to the cascade. 

The trail was a little easier at this point, but still pretty grown up.  We finally found the cascade, but had to scramble down the hillside to get in position to set up my tripod.  There was a rock outcropping that I found that fit my purposes nicely.  By this time, it was almost 8:30.  We were still in the shadow of Forked Mountain, the sun had already gone down and we were losing twilight fast. 

I only had time to shoot 7 images.  They were all essentially the same, just bracketed exposures.

Twist Cascade
Twist Cascade.  Daniel didn't really see a twist in this one.  From my vantage point on the rock, I had to zoom all the way out just to get everything to fit on the sensor.  This has to be the best light I have ever shot in. (25 sec, f-22, +.67, ISO100)

After I was done shooting, we scrambled to the top of the hill.  I had to stop and pack my stuff in my backpack and pull out my headlamp, which was our only light source for the trip back.  I wanted Daniel to get a little bit of a head start while I packed up, since he couldn't keep the pace that I wanted, but he was reluctant to leave my side.  We started back, and within 10 minutes it was totally dark.

When we got to the first stream crossing, we both just walked right across.  Wet shoes weren't going to slow us down a bit.  This time, we followed the guidebook all the way.  By the time we made it across the second creek crossing, we were holding hands.  I don't know who was more comforted by that, me or Daniel.  Daniel was pretty nervous, and I was too, but he didn't get scared.  At one point he told me to think about the number of calories we were burning! 

By the time we got back to Forked Mountain Falls, I knew we were on the home stretch.  We waded across the waist deep water (at least it was waist deep on Daniel) and took off.  We slowed down a bit when we neared the spot that we saw the snake, but he was off playing football or something. 

As we neared the truck, we were in a stand of young growth pine.  We could see where the truck was, but I saw the headlights of a vehicle sitting there.  That really made me nervous, so I told Daniel to stop and be quiet.  We were out in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night.  I really didn't want to come walking out of the woods into a situation where I didn't know what was going on and couldn't see who I was dealing with.  We waited for about 5 minutes before these interlopers turned around and drove off.  We walked out of the woods at about 9:20.  That hour long hike seemed like it took days.

As we got settled into our seats, I turned around and gave Daniel a big high five.  He did so well!  He was so tired, he was asleep in minutes.  What a fun and challenging time we had!  This was one of those trips that you don't tell momma all the details.  ;)

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