Adorama "TechTock" interview with The Digital Mirage's Walter Arnold
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I could not find a discernible path from the pull off but the forest was passable down the steep embankment and I could hear rushing water from where I was so I started down the ravine towards the sound of the water. The embankment turned VERY steep very quick. no more than 20 feet down and I was side steeping very slowly. The very loose earth crumbled under my feet and the brush suddenly got very thick. This most certainly was not a trail of any kind let alone the one from the book. Since I knew I could not be that far off from the falls I figured I would continue down and just hike up along the creek to the falls and take some pictures there and then take the real trail back up and walk back down the road to my car.
Still side stepping down the embankment a small 7 inch in diameter tree that I leaned against for balance suddenly gave way and toppled down the hill! I quickly lost my balance and slid (luckily) on my butt about 20 yards down a very steep part of the hill. At this point I was a bit shaken and thought it best to go back to the car and find the real trail, but much to my dismay I found that the steep part I just slid down combined with the very loose earth mad it almost impossible to climb back up. Where I stood the forest was so dense around me that the only way was down to the stream.
I made it to the stream and I could not see the falls from where I was so I started to make my way upstream. After attempting (unsuccessfully) to navigate through the very dense brush on either side of the creek I decided to get my feet wet and wade upstream. This consisted of wading about knee deep through pools and on and off slippery moss covered rocks. As I made my way up I stopped at about 2-3 places and took a few shots of the creek and a few very small cascades.
After about an hour I had gone about 0.3 miles (hey I was walking up stream taking pictures trying not to fall!!!) I saw up ahead the falls! But as I neared the area I could see that the falls and the area around them tapered into a very small quickly rushing stream of water that emerged from between 3 giant rocks that jutted out from the solid rock ravine walls into the middle of the stream, completely preventing me from navigating through them. Looking to either side of me the steepness of the sheer rock walls and then the density of the forest at the top of the 10 foot rocks was so great that I did not think I could pass. I did find an area near these rock that looked like I could climb up about 10 feet or so but all the small footholds looked like they went deep into the rocks and all I could think about were rattlesnakes!
I stood there baffled as to what I should do. I could risk climbing the rocks and possibly falling or risking snakes, or I could trek BACK down the creek another 0.3 of a mile (Which is a long hike up a slippery creek!) to try again to climb out of the ravine. After thinking about this for a few minutes I decided that since I was alone I would do the safe thing and go back down the creek until I could find an area that looked like I could climb back out...
About 30 minutes later I neared what looked like the area which I had descended. Several attempts to negotiate the climb out were unsuccessful. At this point I was freaking out that I might be in trouble! After gaining my cool I decided that I would "sprint" up the embankment. I launched myself upward as hard as I could, scrambling with all fours against the crumbling earth to a small sapling tree about 20 feet up, where I pulled myself up and rested. I did this repeatedly for about 10 minutes, scramble...grab tree...rest.... until after about 80 yards I was near the top. My legs were so exhausted at this point they were shaking and I felt like I was going to hyperventilate! I made it the last 30 feet and stumbled to my car and collapsed. After about 2 bottles of water and 15 minutes of rest I figured I would at least drive the remaining .3 of a mile to see where i SHOULD have pulled off.
Sure enough there was another pull off just up the road with a definite trail leading down. At this point I was so exhausted, there was no way I was going down there. I drove back home a little discouraged and completely wiped out! At least I got a few decent pictures out of the trip!
As you can see from the following video the brush on either side was VERY dense and navigating my way upstream was tough to say the least especially with a backpack full of camera equipment that would be ruined if I slipped!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
And a quick one of Little Bradley:
Monday, September 17, 2007
Rainbow Falls on Horsepasture River Transylvania County
I struck out by myself today. Nicole was still getting over the bronchitis I gave her while we were on vacation in Florida. It was really strange I got up this morning and open the waterfall book that we bought at the outdoors shop in Brevard last time, and I just flipped open the book to a page randomly, and the description of Rainbow Falls outside of Brevard NC was on the page. So I read some about it both in the book and online and all the descriptions I read were saying that if they had to pick one waterfall in North Carolina that was the most beautiful they would pick this one! So once I determined that it was only about 20 minutes further than cathedral falls and right off hwy 64, I knew that was where I was going!
Drove out there and found the parking area for the Gorges National Park. I asked a guy with a fishing pole if he knew which way the falls were, and he said he was looking for the same place, so we read a few excerpts out of the Kevin Adams book and finally determined the correct route to get to the falls. I started off before him and made my way out of the parking lot left on a trail following the road and then past a closed gate with a sign indicating that this road should not be accessed and that people have died on these trails.
Nothing like a warm welcome from the park rangers! I continued down the trail for about a half mile or so and then descended a steep embankment (completely missing where there was a trail off to my right) which eventually came out at the top of the first falls called Turtleback Falls. The trail actually led out onto the bedrock of the river at this point and you walked around an outcropping of trees on the rock until you got back on the dirt trail.
At the opening of the trail onto the river I met a little old lady that had stayed behind while her daughters had gone ahead and trekked down to Rainbow Falls. We chatted briefly and as we did the man that I had spoke with in the parking area came up behind us and continued on down the path. I parted ways with the lady after giving her my printed information about the falls and telling her about the ncwaterfalls.com website. I took a few shots with the Sony at the top of Turtleback before moving on down the trail across a small bridge and the onto a small rock outcropping that offered me a decent front on view of the falls.
Wishing I had a wider angle lens than 18-55mm I snapped some shots with my neutral density filter on and quickly realised that on sunny days like this one I was going to need a darker ND filter. I packed the camera back into my new specially made camera hiking backpack and moved on down the trail stopping at one or two other easily accessible areas.
Finally after about another half mile I came to the top of Rainbow Falls. It was breathtaking. the dry exposed bedrock allowed me to get right to the very dangerous edge of the top of the falls and also stand on some rocks in the middle of the river and snap a few shots.
What an amazing feeling, looking out over the top of this 120' high falls. I could see two people far below be at the bottom of the falls sitting on some rocks. I stood for a minute there just watching the roaring water rush around me and taking in the amazing view of the explosion of water at the top of the falls and the trees and mountains in the distance. Again I packed my things and made my way down the trail to an area that looked to go down to the base of Rainbow Falls. Climbing down involved stepping very carefully and holding on the rocks and any tree limbs I could find. Finally I made it to the base just as the couple that I saw above sitting on the rocks were leaving. I took a few (unsuccessful) shots of the waterfall through the trees and then broke tree cover and stepped out onto the giant rocks below the falls. I stared in wonder at this massive falls for a few minutes and then walked around without my pack to find a good place that I could safely take the camera and still get a decent shot. I found a spot and rattled off a bunch of shots, some of which turned out very nice.
I spent a good 20 minutes at the base of the falls before moving on. After pulling myself back up the steep embankment I was thoroughly exhausted and after sitting for a moment decided to go a little further down. Along the way I met a couple with a pretty white dog who they said was not theirs. They said the dog which they had dubbed "Snowdrift" had found them and walked with them all day. The dog had a tag that said: "I live in the Gorges Park area, I am not lost, I will find my way home." The couple told me that there were more falls further down and many more trails. I started on down but did not get too far before I figured the hike back was long enough as it was. I finally turned around and started the very long hike back. After about an hour I made it back to the car and all but passed out. I had a great day and found an incredible location that I plan on going back to visit very soon!
Below is a short vidoe of the falls along the river.
Stopping the time
Leave it behind
Shifting and shaping
Keep it inside
It all goes passing by...
Nicole and I stopped at the same places I had gone the previous day and we took in the sights and the sounds of this beautiful area. Nicole sat at the top of Cathedral Falls while I took some more pics.
Suddenly the skies opened up and it started pouring. Nicole found a small area that was sheltered by the massive rock outcropping and made her way there. I ran back up the inclined bedrock to grab the camera bag. On my way back down in my haste I slid standing up about 6 feet or so while maintaining my balance (barely) and made it safely to the semi-sheltered area. We watched as the rain fulled the roaring river and the dry spots where we were sitting quickly started filling up with running water. We stood there for 15 minutes or so and watched the rain, drank the rest of our wine and talked.
When it looked like it was letting up a bit we grabbed our things and made the wet muddy hike back to the car. Just as we were nearing Living Waters the rain picked up fast. When we broke free of the forest cover we made a dash towards the car. Suddenly lightning struck so close the the transformer on the power line not 20 feet from us emitted a flash of sparks. Nicole stood under cover of a small firewood pavilion while I made another mad dash the last 25 yards to the car. We drove down off the mountain and back into Brevard where we stopped and bought some hiking equipment and decided that we would definitely do this again!
I'm aching to believe
Give me something real enough
Give me somewhere to fall from...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Falls were 15-20 feet tall. I snapped a few pictures from a small piece of exposed bedrock that jutted out into the water. When I was done I got back on the path and stopped a few other places along the way where the river was accessible and took a few pics / video.
In all there were about 6-7 locations with falls in varying heights that were easily accessible. The well maintained path took me through some creepy bending branches/plants that canopied the train low enough for me to duck as I went through. I finally got to what seemed like the end of the trail and made my way down to Cathedral Falls. This was maybe a 25ft falls that flowed under a giant rock outcropping about 100 feet tall that it had been carving away for years.
The roaring falls tapered down stream into a peaceful creek that flowed further down the mountain. I took more pictures here and experimented with the camera settings which I am still getting used to. Incidentally I never got a full shot of Cathedral Falls, both times I went I neglected to bring my wide angle lens with me and I could never fully frame the final falls (All the more reason to go back again!) All in all it was an incredible trip and I learned a lot about shooting waterfalls.
I'm wide awake and so alive
Ringing like a bell
Tell me this is paradise
And not someplace I fell
'Cause I keep on falling down...
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