Sunday, June 24, 2007

An awesome sunset and trail discovery...

There is a neat little loop trail located right off of the freeway between Little Rock and Conway. It was built a few years back by the Game and Fish Commission to take hikers through a wetlands area that is home to migratory birds.

Although I used to drive right by the trailhead every day when I commuted to Conway, I never realized that it was there. I found the trail very randomly while looking through a guidebook of natural sites in the state and was a bit shocked to see the trail there. I've had that book for a few months and look through it often, but for some reason never noticed this trail. Oh well. I grabbed the camera and headed out there last weekend.

The trail is the Bell Slough Wildlife Loop trail, which is 2.3 miles long and is on Hwy. 365 between Mayflower and Palarm. It was a bit warm and muggy, apparently this time of the year isn't really designed for doing much hiking. I got to the trail, and was greeted by two excited dogs. I don't know what it is about trails in areas like this, but they always seem to attract random dogs. These two dogs were happy to walk along the trail, and acted as if hiking with some total stranger was the most awesome thing to happen to them ever.

Trail dogs

They were good company, at least they didn't have rabies or anything like that. I stopped to take pictures but they kept on running and disappeared. I did see them at the end of the trail when they were following along another hiker.

For the most part, the trail is flat and a very easy hike.

Bell Slough trail

Bell Slough trail

The trail was built for people to go and spy on various birds and such, so there were a few blinds set up along the trail....

I'm a stranger here myself...

The trail was really quiet so there weren't any animals to see. Besides the friendly trail dogs, I saw a skunk and lots of spiders. But one good thing about the trail - the telescope here is free to use. Nice touch, Game and Fish people.

There were a few wildflowers out on the trail too...

Bell Slough Trail

Yellow Flower, again....

More flowers

Yellow Flower, remix

It started to rain while I was out there. It wasn't that heavy, and it did manage to cool things off a bit. The temperature maybe dropped from 90 to 88 degrees.

Bell Slough trail

The trail was nice but I was there at the wrong time. The guidebook said that in the winter the place is crazy with birds migrating through. At least now that I know where it is so I'll try to remember it next winter.

Along the trail

After I left the trail I headed over to Burns Park for a few shots. I went by the covered bridge there when it really started pouring down rain.

Burns Park

As it was raining, I had to wait a bit because a truck drove by and then randomly parked right in the middle of the bridge. It wouldn't matter except that you could still see the truck through the window in the middle of the bridge. It was annoying and a bit creepy in the way that trucks sitting around in Burns Park can be.

Covered Bridge

Then after work one day I headed down to (where else?) the Big Dam Bridge. It was raining again, so I took out the umbrella and tried to get some shots. To get this shot I was holding the camera in one hand and the umbrella in the other trying to keep the camera dry. I nearly lost the umbrella to the river below when a really strong wind came through that actually turned the umbrella inside out. I was kinda surprised since I'd only seen that happen in cartoons and movies.

Rainy night at the Big Dam Bridge

When I got up there it finally stopped raining, though it was still really stormy out to the east over downtown. Here's a panoramic shot looking west:

Big Dam Pan

From that shot, it looked like the beginnings of a neat sunset. The color just started to intensify as it got darker.

Clearing out...

Looking to the east though, there were lots of lightning bolts shooting off from the clouds. I tried to set up the camera hoping to catch some, but it would only lightning when I wasn't taking a picture. The only thing I accomplished was wasting memory card space. I got a bit worried though as it seemed like the storm was moving closer to the bridge, since standing out there on a metal bridge, with a metal tripod and a metal umbrella didn't seem like such a good idea. Then the light got really bizzare out there and I decided to stay. Looking towards the east, this odd pink light lit up the clouds above the river:

Bizarre light

Eventually, it lit up the entire sky...

It's just the end of the world as we know it...

It was so weird, it looked like it was the end of the world. It only lasted for a minute or so. I just got two shots of it, and one of them wasn't in focus (of course). Then I turned around and saw the most awesome sunset there:

Stormy Sunset

Here's a panoramic view of the sunset:

Big Dam Sunset Pan

It was such an amazing sunset...


More sunset

Then after the sunset faded away, I went and got one more shot of the bridge lit up at night...

Big Dam Bridge

So thanks again for going through yet another set of pictures from the Big Dam Bridge. Hope you liked them!

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