Monday, October 26, 2009

Falling Water Creek & Six Finger Falls

Falling Water Creek is one of the neatest spots in the Ozarks. There are several waterfalls along the creek, and some nice scenic views to match. It was even better last week thanks to the sweeping autumn colors that were approaching peak conditions. Even better, it's all very easy to visit thanks to the dirt road that runs parallel to the creek.

I drove off from Falling Water Falls and went deeper into the woods. The dirt road is in good condition, save a few bumpy spots. No lasting damage was inflicted on the new car (at least that I know of). But this was a shot taken from the side of the road, actually it was taken from the passenger seat window of the car.
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I tried to make several stops along the way, which is easy since there are so many great things to see on the creek. This is a spot where the creek rushes over some small rapids...

Along with the waterfalls along the creek, there are several small falls that come in from the side drainages. There is a small waterfall that you can actually see from the road, and it's one that I had never taken a closer look at. So I parked the car and walked into the woods towards it. Now you can see the falls from the road, so the walk in isn't far. But it is a bit difficult to get there because the hillside there is at a steep angle, and gravity tries its best to pull you down towards the rocks. Most of the way there was spent trying to hold onto a tree, while my feet would slide away on the dead and wet leaves. I did manage to make it without falling, miraculously. I set the camera up on the hillside, and had to stay perfectly still to keep myself from sliding down the hill with the camera.

As far as I know, these falls do not have an official name. I remember reading in Tim Ernst's Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook that a waterfall is named simply by having that name be published in a book or map. I laughed a bit at the idea that I could come up with any name, somehow get it published, and have other people be stuck using the name. It wouldn't be all that hard, and there is a nearby waterfall called "Fuzzybutt Falls."

So I began daydreaming of a name to deem the falls. It would be way too cocky and presumptuous to name the falls after yourself. Eventually, I decided that these falls shall henceforth be named Cunningham Falls. They are named in honor of FC Dallas soccer player Jeff Cunningham, who was just named the team's MVP for this season. He is also the top goal scorer in the league this season (the winner of the "Golden Boot"), and was instrumental in Dallas's unlikely end-of-season run that nearly got them into the playoffs. Now I just need to get the name published somewhere...

This is a wider view of Cunningham Falls. The creek went over several small waterfalls as it made its way down the hill.

The small creek that forms Cunningham Falls (see it has a nice ring to it!) then flows right into Falling Water Creek.

I got back into the car and went on towards Six Finger Falls. These falls were named because the creek has eroded out six chutes in the rock, which from above looks like a hand with six fingers. I had just parked the car when a truck pulled up beside me, and the driver got out to warn me that the road ahead was blocked. It is blocked thanks to a landslide that happened last year, and it doesn't look like it's ever going to be fixed.

But I had a quick chat with the guy in the truck. It turned out that he was a professional photographer, who works for the advertising agency that the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism uses for its advertising. He was getting paid to be out in the woods that day (lucky bastard, I was using a vacation day). He even showed me his fancy 36 megapixel Hasselblaad, which made me a feel a bit self-conscious about my much-lower megapixel Olympus.

He started to leave, and I asked him if he was going to get any pictures of the waterfall. "Waterfall?" he asked, "what waterfall?" I pointed out the falls and he quickly ran over to get some pictures. Six Finger Falls is neat waterfall. It isn't very tall, but it is wide and stretches across the creek.


Another small waterfall that I had never noticed before was just about 20 feet away, spilling over a bluff by the road. These falls are also probably unnamed, so if anyone has any ideas...

And a few more shots of Six Finger Falls. There is a little trail that you can take that leads to this large rock that sits along the bank of the river. It provides a nice view of the falls...


And one last view of the falls. It was a perfect day - perfect weather, perfect fall color, perfect water levels.

From there I tried to decide what to do next. I needed to leave soon, since I was to be meeting some of my relatives at 5:00 in Charleston, which would be about a two hour drive. It was 2:30, so I didn't really have much time left. But then again, I really wanted to see one more waterfall that was close by. What to do?

Well, what happens next is a bit embarrassing. I really hesitated about writing about it, but everyone needs a laugh, especially one at my expense. So here goes. I wanted to see the waterfall at Kings Bluff, which is near Falling Water Creek. I thought that I could call the family and tell them that I'd be late, and try to quickly finish the hike to the falls. So I went to the parking area at Kings Bluff and Pedestal Rocks, and absent-mindedly grabbed the camerabag. I thought that I would run the trail as fast as my out-of-shape body would allow, then spend a few minutes getting some pictures, and then run back to the car.

I was hurrying down the trail with the tripod and camerabag when my cellphone started to beep, announcing several voice mails and text messages. They were all from the family - wondering where I was, and reminded me that I needed to be somewhere at 5pm. Well, I decided it would be better to keep my word and meet then when I said I would, so I turned around and headed back to the car. I regretted not going to the falls.

And so I got to the parking area and what did I see sitting on the front seat of my car? The camera. Turns out that in my haste to start on the trail, I managed to close the camerabag without first ensuring that the camera was inside. I don't know what choice words I would have said after I had ran to the falls, only to discover that the camera was still in the car.

After that I made the drive to Charleston, even getting there 30 minutes early (which anyone who knows me can attest that was a rare feat). I still wish I could have seen the waterfall at Kings Bluff, but I would be able to see a few more waterfalls the next day at Devil's Den.


Matthew Kennedy said...

I wouldn't have told that photographer about the waterfall. That's his fault for not knowing the area.

Cormackphotos said...

Yeah really. I mentioned it because I was surprised he that was going to leave without noticing the waterfall just through the trees.

Windy Richardson said...

LOL. It's sorta lucky you went back to your car before getting all the way too the falls. If you had gotten down there and realized you didn't have your camera you would have been really mad.