Monday, October 29, 2012

Richland Creek and Falling Water Falls

Work was generous and let me take off early on Friday, so I left Little Rock and drove up into the Ozarks. The autumn colors are close to being at peak (or past peak in some places, apparently), so I wanted to take a few pictures before the leaves fall off the trees.

The first stop was Haw Creek Falls, which I hoped would have some water in it. And well, there wasn't much there at all. But after the bad drought we've had this year, it's amazing that there is even water in any waterfalls right now. It was getting close to sunset, and the light from the sun was hitting the trees right above the falls.


I decided to hurry on over to Falling Water Creek, and hoped to get there before it got dark. Luckily it didn't take too long to get there, and I had some time to take a few pictures...


As I walked up to the falls, I saw a bunch of fallen leaves caught up in the current below the falls. In the dying light of the day, I did a long exposure (15 seconds) to try to get the leaves showing up as a blurry swirl. So here are a bunch of fallen leaves, below Falling Water Falls, along Falling Water Road, taken in the Fall.


I stayed out there until it was nearly dark, and made it back to the car for the short drive to Richland Creek. I camped at Richland overnight, and woke up in the chilly morning air to take a few more pictures. According to the thermostat in my car, it was 34 degrees outside on Saturday morning.

This is Richland Creek, with a bit of mist along the creek. I was startled by a loud splash as I walked along the creek, which must have been from one of the resident otters there.



After scraping the frost from the car's windshield, I headed back down Falling Water Road. I stopped at Six Finger Falls and took a few pictures, but the water was low there and they didn't really turn out. I stopped at Falling Water Falls, just before the sun rose over the hills, for a few more pictures.


I was surprised to see this much water along Falling Water Creek. There was actually more water there than when I visited the falls back in May. But a short time later the sun came out, and it was a bright and clear day. Which, sadly, isn't the best for photography. I stopped a few more times but wasn't happy with any of the pictures. And eventually I headed on home, looking forward to taking a nap...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Falling Water Spring & Greer Spring

And so the journey continues.  From Alley Spring, we headed south towards home, passing through the Mark Twain National Forest.  We had a few stops planned, taking us a by a few other springs before we traveled back into Arkansas.  The first was Falling Spring Mill, located a few miles down a dirt road.

This place was awesome. The spring here actually flows out of a bluff, creating a waterfall right next to the old mill. It helped that the fall colors were at their peak there:


The mill was built between 1927 and 1929, although it isn't used anymore. Here is a shot of the falls pouring out from behind the mill.


From there we drove over to Greer Spring, and started on the mile long hike to the spring. The trail switchbacked through the forest, and eventually dropped down to the creek formed by the spring.


Greer Spring is the second largest spring in the Ozarks, and in Missouri. 222 million gallons of water bubble up from the spring, and then flow into the nearby Eleven Point National Scenic River.


From there we headed on home, and soon crossed over the border into Arkansas. We drove by Mammoth Spring, which is the 3rd largest spring in the Ozarks. We didn't stop, but we could see it from the road. So with Mammoth Springs, we actually ended up hitting 7 of the 15 largest springs in the Ozarks that weekend.

We drove further south, through Batesville and towards Searcy. Just about a minue after Zack commented that we were making good time on our drive home, I got a flat tire. After driving down miles of dirt roads that weekend, the tire finally had enough. We pulled over in someone's driveway, and put on the do-nut spare. We were still a good distance from home, so I decided to drive to the only place around that would be open on a Sunday that could put on a new tire - Wal-mart.

So we slowly wobbled into the Searcy Wal-Mart, only for the associates there to rudely inform us that it would be a three and a half hour wait. I thought that Zack probably had better things to do with his day than sit around for hours while I got a tire fixed (or was probably tired of being around me), so we decided to just go ahead and drive back to Little Rock.

Which would take awhile, since you can't go over 50 mph on a spare. So we mapped out a long and back-roads route towards Little Rock, which took about an hour longer than it normally would to get home. Eventually, I was able to get Zack home, and then I drove towards my apartment. I thought it would be best to get a shower before dealing with the tire people again (considering it had been a few days since I last showered). And at the tire place by my apartment, it only took an hour for them to put on the new tire. It was a pain, but much better than one of my previous flat tire adventures. Last year a tire blew out on I-430 during rush hour traffic, and I had to change the tire when it was 110 degrees outside. This was a walk in the park by comparison...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Welch Spring & Alley Spring

From Blue Spring, we got back into the car and continued our tour of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  Along part of the drive, we followed a road as it traveled up the side of a hill, providing this view of the valley below.


The next stop was Welch Spring. After a short hike along the Current River, we came up to Welch Spring, which is the 9th largest spring in the Ozarks. About 105 million gallons of water flow out of the spring, next to the ruins of a hospital that was built in 1913.


Next we drove into the small town of Eminence to get something to eat. During the whole trip we had barely seen any other people. There were maybe a handful of people around Blue Spring and Welch Spring, but most of the time we had the springs all to ourselves. So we naively deluded ourselves into thinking that it would be like that the whole weekend. If I had a dollar for each time one of us said "This is amazing, where is everyone?" than we'd, well, have a bunch of dollars. Which would have been nice to help pay for all the gas we burned to get up to Missouri.

The plan was to drive up to Alley Springs, which is one of the more popular spots in the park. We had assumed it would be nearly empty, like all the other spots we have been to over the weekend. We were wrong.

As we got close to the park, there were signs along the road warning: "Heavy Traffic. Haunting Event Ahead." What? Well it turns out that the National Park Service was hosting the "Haunting of the Hills" that day. The park at Alley Springs was packed with people, with park rangers directing people to over-flow campgrounds and parking.

Well, so on to Plan B. We drove on to the closest campground, at Bay Creek along the Jacks Fork River. The campsite was nice, but the most scenic part was the drive through the woods on the way there.


The fall colors were breathtaking, I think I stopped the car about every five feet to take pictures of the road and the woods.


A heavy storm passed through the campsite around one in the morning, which made me glad I wussed out and slept in the car instead of my not-so-waterproof tent. But we managed to wake up before dawn again, and headed back to Alley Springs. The park was silent and still, with a few tables set up from the Haunting of the night before.

Alley Spring was probably one of the prettiest places we visited on the trip. The spring (the 8th largest in the Ozarks) pours out from the base of a limestone bluff. Next to the spring is the old Alley Mill, which was built in 1894.


Here is the pool formed by the spring, where an average of 81 million gallons of water stream up from the ground every day. The water was a deep and emerald blue.


This was taken from the mill, where the water has been diverted through this chute. The water turned a turbine, which was used to process grain back in the olden days.


Here are a few more shots from around Alley Spring. This place was gorgeous, definitely worth the wait.


I couldn't believe how great the fall colors were...


Here's a shot of where the water shoots out from under the mill. It was neat to see the deep blue of the spring water and the fall colors here.


And one last shot from Alley Springs. This is the bridge that runs over the creek formed by the spring. From here, we headed on towards home. But not before making a few more stops along the way...


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blue Spring

From Big Spring, we headed out to another of the many springs around the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  It didn't look like it was very far away on the map, but there wasn't a direct route to the spring, so it required a bit of a drive.  But that was ok, it was still foggy and the fall colors were still vivid.  And it helped that there were a ton of old barns along the way.



All of these barns were along a very scenic stretch of the road, and were all nearly right next to each other...


We turned off of the paved road onto a well-maintained dirt road (which was nice, since we were in my little Pontiac). The road passed by a few homes, but it was mostly woods and a few fields. The fog was still thick. We were both amazed that we somehow managed to get up there when the conditions were just about right.


And one more barn...


Eventually, we found the road that went down the hill towards Blue Spring. I was thrilled that it was still foggy. The fog really brought out the fall colors. So much, that I was worried that they'd look too saturated in the pictures.



But the fog wouldn't last for too much longer, sadly. By the time we got to the parking area for Blue Spring, the fog had burned off and the sun was threatening to break through the clouds. But we headed off on the short trail to Blue Spring, which as the name suggests, is quite blue. The Osage called this the "Spring of the Summer Sky," which is a better name, much more poetic.


The vivid blues are the result of both the suspended particles of limestone and dolomite in the waters, and for the depth of the spring's conduit (nearly 300 foot deep). It was a beautiful spot, but kinda hard to convey in a photograph. There is a wooden walkway that extends out over the spring, where you can look down into the spring. The rocks there head steeply down, disappearing into the inky blue waters. This is the view from an overlook on the bluff above the spring.


Blue Spring is the 6th largest spring in Missouri, with an average outflow of 90 million gallons a day. The spring water flows into the nearby Current River.


From there, we got back into the car and drove toward a few more springs...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big Spring

Last week, Zack and I were having trouble trying to find a new place to go take pictures over the weekend. After a bit of discussion, we decided to look a little outside of the box - or, well, really the state. We picked the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, in southeastern Missouri. There are a lot of huge springs, and neat old mill buildings there. And all just a few hours away from home.

So after work on Friday, we loaded up the car and headed out. Or tried to. It was raining, which when combined with rush hour in Little Rock meant horrible traffic. There were a few wrecks, which backed up traffic. We finally got through town, but it took over an hour.
It soon got dark, and after a few hours we finally crossed the state line into Missouri. We eventually hit the campsite at Big Springs, which sits near the Current River in the ONSR. The campground was nearly empty, in fact I saw more deer and possums than other people.

Before dawn on Saturday, we packed up the campsite and headed towards Big Spring. We had arrived at the campground at night, so we weren't really sure what it would look like outside. We were thrilled to see that the fall colors were nearly at peak. And the park was covered with a thick layer of fog.

We made it to Big Spring, which is aptly named. The spring is big. It's not only the largest spring in the Ozarks, but one of the largest springs in the country. Every day, about 286 million gallons of water tumble out from the base of a bluff, instantly creating a river.


Here is the spring, it was a bit bizarre to see a river just pouring out from the rocks:


The color of the water at the spring was amazing. It was a deep and vivid blue, almost the same color of the water that you see running through glaciers. The color is from particles of dissolved limestone in the water.


This is the view looking back at the spring and the bluff that it empties out of..


There was a sign there that said something like enough water comes out of the spring every day to completely fill up all of Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Since there are no stadiums in the park, the spring water flows into the nearby Current River.


We spent about an hour at the spring, and then headed out to do some more exploring. But we were only in the car for a few minutes before stopping to get pictures of this old cabin, sitting in a foggy field.


We headed out of the park, hoping that the thick fog would stick around a bit more...


From there we hit the road, heading towards a few other neat springs...