Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Richland Creek

I wanted to go camping last weekend, in order to enjoy the outdoors before the heat and humidity of summer settles in. Luckily, work kindly agreed to let me leave a bit early on Friday, and I immediately headed north into the Ozark Mountains. My destination was Richland Creek, which is perhaps one of the most scenic streams in all of the Ozarks. The stream, and its rugged beauty, are largely unspoiled. And it's just enough away from the beaten track that few people even know about it. It's a fairly large stream, and I hoped that there would still be some decent water in it, even with the distinct lack of recent rainfall.

The campground at Richland Creek had been closed for several years, after a landslide blocked access on Falling Water Road. But the landslide has been thankfully cleared away, and campers are again welcome at Richland. I eagerly headed up Falling Water Road, looking forward to the potential waterfalls along the way. Falling Water Road, is of course, very aptly named. It runs roughly parallel to Falling Water Creek, which in fact has several waterfalls on it. But the dry weather became all too apparent as I drove further on. There was barely any water falling in Falling Water Creek....

I passed by the area of the landslide, and it's easy to see why it took the Forest Service so long to clear it. They pretty much took out every tree along the steep hillside above the road. It's now a grassy slope that angles down towards the road. It definitely sticks out from the rest of the drive, which is surrounded by thick forests. But as long as it keeps the road open, I guess I'm ok with it.

And pretty soon I reached the campground and claimed a spot. It was still about an hour or so before dark, so I hurried to gather some firewood for the night. I claimed some sticks and fallen tree limbs from the beds of poison ivy they were resting in, and then grabbed the camera gear and headed to the creek.

The water level was low, but it was still amazingly scenic. The creek flowed past huge boulders, and some small eddies and rapids. This was taken near the spot where Falling Water Creek flows into Richland Creek: P5040275

And another view, looking in the other direction:

I was standing on the top of a large rock taking pictures, when I noticed the light behind be starting to change. The hillside, in the distance downstream, began to be hit from the golden light of the setting sun. I hurried to move the camera and get a few shots. In the span of a few minutes, the light faded away.

I decided to call it a night and head back to the campsite. After carefully making my way past two other photographers (or their dog, which was growling at me), I left the creek and headed up the hill. I managed to get a fire going, and sat back to enjoy the night with a few cold drinks. But I couldn't enjoy the campfire too much (or drink too much), since the alarm clock was set to go off at 6:00 the next morning.....

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