It was right at dawn as we headed down the steep road to the Steele Creek put-in along the Buffalo National River. The cloudy weather covered up any type of sunrise, but we headed down the hill and parked near the base of Roark Bluff.
Roark Bluff isn't the tallest bluff along the river, but it has to be one of the prettiest. It runs along a graceful curve of the river, overlooking a serene valley. I rode in with fellow photographers Matt Kennedy and Clay Wells, and our first goal of the day was to hike to the top of the bluff.
There is a spot along the bluff that overlooks the rest of the bluff line and the river. It's a spot that I've wanted to visit for a very long time, but I had never known how to get there. I realize now that my idea of reaching it was completely wrong, I thought you had to climb up in a completely different spot - which wasn't even on the same hillside that the bluff is on. Whoops.
We started out by crossing the Buffalo River, which was very easy since the river was low. Then you head up the hillside towards the bluff. There was a bit of a faint trail, and eventually we made it to the overlook. It is a beautiful spot, but a bit scary at the same time. You are standing on a piece of rock that is extending a few hundred feet above the river. It's not a place for anyone scared of heights.
There are a few different spots to set up your camera. If you are feeling very brave (and have good life insurance), there is a narrow fin of rock that extends further out above the river. It has barely enough room for a person to stand on. I wasn't brave enough to try, since I knew that I'd probably be the idiot who fell off.
We sat up there for a bit, drinking in the view. It was pretty amazing:
While perched on top of the bluff, we had a great view of the entire valley. We saw a caravan of cars drive down the hill and park. Then a large group of photographers came out and started making their way towards the river. It would turn out that this was a photography workshop being put on by Tim Ernst. His group moved down along the river, and we waved down at them. I jokingly said that one of us should moon them (we didn't).
After admiring the view for awhile, we headed down the hill to explore more of the river. There was some good fall color along the Buffalo, but most of the distant hillsides were still mostly green.
I was amazed at how low the river was, you can definitely tell that we haven't gotten much rain lately. The stream in this picture is the entire Buffalo River (it must run a bit underground in this section).
And one last shot of the Buffalo River from Steele Creek. There was a large number of fallen leaves piled up in the still waters of the river...
From there we got in the car and headed off towards Boxley Valley...