Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top 25 of 2012

Now that it's been 2013 for a few days, it's time to look back at last year and some of the pictures taken over the last twelve months.  Perhaps the biggest story from 2012 was the weather, which impacted the amount of pictures that were taken.  A bad drought persisted throughout the year, which quickly dried up waterfalls and creeks across the state.  There definitely weren't as many waterfall pictures taken in 2012 as there had been in other years.  Hopefully we'll get some rain this year....

But without any further ado, here are some of my favorite pictures from 2012.  Hope you enjoy them!

Buffalo Point
June 2: Buffalo Point, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

My birthday is in June, and I wanted to spend it at one of my favorite places in the state - the Buffalo River. But thanks to the drought, most of the river was too low to float. The only place with enough water to support a canoe was Buffalo Point, so I headed up there with my cousin. Of course, we weren't the only ones with that idea and we found the campsite to be already full by the time we arrived. We luckily managed to snag a spot to camp, and went out to float the next day. It was actually a good day to be out on the water (meaning it wasn't 110 degrees out). And amazingly, I didn't manage to get a horrible sunburn like I usually do when I float the river. But this was taken just after dawn, with some canoes lined up along the shore waiting to be put in.

Westminster Abbey?
July 7: England, Arkansas

An old friend of mine had the day free (meaning he didn't have to look after his kids), so we decided to drive out into the Arkansas Delta. We passed by this old abandoned church near the town of England, which was almost bizarrely surrounded by a golf course. It was an odd contrast to have this old church and graveyard (with markers dating to the 1910s) sitting next to people playing golf.

Sunny Side Up
April 21: Blue Hole, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

A bunch of photographers met up at a cabin in the Ozarks for the annual Spring Gathering, but unfortunately most of the nearby waterfalls were just barely running thanks to the drought. We did make the long hike down to the Blue Hole, which had some water in the creek. I miss waterfalls, hopefully 2013 will be much wetter than 2012!

August 25: Boxley Valley, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

Boxley Valley is probably one of the most popular spots in the state for photographers. This was taken on a foggy summer day, when fog clung to the tops of the hills that ring the valley. There were elk in the field on the other side of the barn, and the road was clogged with people trying to get their picture.

On Bollie Pond
May 26: Bollie Pond, Hurricane Lake Wilderness Area, near Bald Knob, Arkansas.

This is a neat lake that is filled with cypress trees. But it was hard to get a clear shot of the lake from the shore, since the vegetation was about as thick and formidable as a brick wall. Amazingly, some people camping there offered me a quick ride on their boat, which brought about some great views of the lake (and offered some distance from any lurking snakes).

The Nars
August 18: The Nars, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

The Nars is the remnant of a mountain that once sat in between the Buffalo River and Richland Creek. The two rivers carved and eroded away much of the mountain, so all that remains is a narrow sliver of rock that is only a few feet wide in places, but about 100 feet tall. We had camped in a nearby field the night before, and we were visited a few times overnight by a few of the elk that live in the valley. While taking this shot, I could hear an elk calling out nearby, unseen in the thick fog along the river.

December 26: Old barn, near Charleston, Arkansas.

After it had been so dry here this year, it was surprising to get a sudden and heavy snow storm on Christmas Day. The day after the storm hit, I went out with two of my Aunts to try to get some pictures of the snow. We found this old barn, with a few tracks in the snow from the cats who call the barn home.

Down the road
October 13: Near Blue Spring, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri.

Zack and I headed up to Missouri in October, and were amazed to find that we had somehow managed to hit the ONSR at the peak time for fall colors. This was probably my favorite trip of the year, so there will be a few more shots of Missouri on this list....

Cedar Falls
April 20: Cedar Falls, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.

The 95 foot-tall Cedar Falls is a spectacular spot, and I headed out there in the Spring when there was still water in the falls. It was lightly raining as I made the hike down to the falls, and I was amazed to not see anyone else there. It's rare to visit here and have the falls entirely to yourself.

Little Rock
February 28: I-630, Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

I headed out after work to try to get a few shots of downtown. I set up on this bridge over the freeway by Children's Hospital. I was happy to be out taking pictures of the traffic on the freeway, instead of being stuck in it.

Alley Mill
October 14: Alley Mill, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri.

This is definitely one of the prettiest places we visited in 2012. Alley Mill was built in 1894, and sits next to the 8th largest spring in the Ozarks. It was definitely worth the long five hour drive into Missouri, and the flat tire I got on the way home...

Blanchard Springs
September 8: Blanchard Springs, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

Even in the driest of summers, you can always count on Blanchard Springs to have some water in it. So I headed up to Blanchard with Matt and Zack to get a few shots of one of the only waterfalls that was actually running in the state.

November 10: Hickson Lake, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas.

This is a great area to visit. The shores of the lake are lined with cypress and tupelo trees that had some nice color this fall. The area is a popular spot with hunters, so there were a few shots taken while we were out there. Luckily, the hunters were aiming at something other than the few photographers standing by the lake taking pictures.

Big Spring
October 13: Big Spring, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri.

Big Spring is aptly named, as it is fairly big. It's not only the largest spring in the Ozarks, it's also the largest in Missouri. And with a daily discharge of 286 million gallons, it's also one of the largest in the US. We managed to get there on a foggy Saturday morning, when the fall colors were right at their peak.

September 8: Blanchard Springs, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

This was taken while standing in the creek created by the springs, looking up toward one of the old stone bridges that I think was built by the CCC in the 1930s. While the water in the creek is crystal clear, it isn't exactly 100% clean. There are a lot of bats that live in the cave created by the springs, so the water is filled with bat guano. I tried not to think of what was washing over my shoes as I stood taking this picture...

May 27: Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

We managed to get access to the top of one of the condo towers near the River Market in Little Rock, which we had hoped would provide a good view of the Riverfest Fireworks show. It was nice to be a good 20 floors above the massive crush of people who were crowding the streets below.

Big Creek Cave Falls
April 7: Big Creek Cave Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

This is a really unique waterfall. A spring pours out of a cave on the side of a bluff, creating a 29 foot tall waterfall. To hike out to the falls is about three miles round trip, and is labeled as a medium bushwhack. I didn't think the hike was all that bad, the worst thing about it was the jungle-like layer of poison ivy that we had to wade through to get there. I'm amazed that I survived it without getting any itchy reactions.

Fallen leaves at Falling Water Falls
October 26: Falling Water Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

I was able to take a few hours off from work on a Friday, and headed back to the Ozarks to try to get a few shots of the fall colors before they fell off the trees. I went by Falling Water Falls, and was amazed to see that it actually had a decent amount of water in it. Below the falls, a bunch of fallen leaves had been caught in the current, and were turned into a swirl in this 15 second exposure.

Cossatot Falls
July 28: Cossatot Falls, Cossatot River State Park, Arkansas.

I had been wanting to visit the Cossatot River for awhile now, but hadn't driven out there since it's a long drive from Little Rock. But after a storm dumped a bunch of rain on the river, Zack and I decided to make the drive through the Ouachita Mountains. The river rose a few feet from the rain, which got the river back up to normal levels, if only for a brief amount of time.

High And (Not) Dry
March 11: Kansas City, Missouri.

A cold and rainy view of Kansas City, taken on the first of two visits in 2012. The first visit was with my brother, in order to attend a Radiohead concert. The second visit was just two weeks later, to catch a soccer game. I'm sad to say that Sporting Kansas City did end up defeating my beloved FC Dallas in that game, 2-1. But the soccer stadium there is really nice (although the BBQ in KC isn't as good as the BBQ in Little Rock).

Alley Spring
October 14: Alley Spring, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri.

Another view from Alley Spring, where 81 million gallons of water pour out from a bluff every day. I was amazed at how beautiful this area was, and I managed to use up several gigs of memory cards out there.

Big Cloud, Little Rock
May 2: Downtown Little Rock, from Fort Roots in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

This is probably one of the best views of the Little Rock skyline, and luckily there is now a paved trail that allows easy access (without worries of any VA hospital security kicking you out, which has happened in the past).

Pinnacle Mountain Erupting
July 10: Sunset over Pinnacle Mountain, from Two Rivers Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Occasionally, if your timing is right, you can catch the sun setting right on top of Pinnacle Mountain. It had stormed a few hours before the sunset, which created a few stands of fog that drifted along the base of Pinnacle.

Falling Water Spring
October 14: Falling Water Spring, Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri.

This is one of neatest places that I went to last year. The spring flows out from the side of a bluff, creating a waterfall next to an old mill that was built in the 1920s.

Maidenhair Falls
February 18: Maidenhair Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.

It's been months since this hike, but the memory of it still makes my legs hurt. The falls sit at the bottom of some steep hills, and of course, the only way to reach it is by hiking in. The falls were awesome, especially with this bit of a swirl that developed along the creek below the falls. The hike to Maidenhair Falls is listed as a "medium bushwhack," which I think is being a bit generous. But it was worth the hike, I think....

And thanks to all 3 of my readers, if you made it to the end of this post. Hope everyone had a good 2012, and a much better 2013!

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