Between the storms

_C1_8531.JPGThis month has brought a whole lot of rain: more than 7 inches so far this month, with another 8 (!) possible between now and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Yesterday’s storm swept away a homeless camp in Fayetteville, caused other flash flooding and caught houses on fire with its lightning, and that was with only 3 inches of rain. The ground is almost completely saturated, so be careful of all the runoff this weekend, and especially don’t drive through it.

The pauses in the mayhem, on the other hand, have brought great chances to see local waterfalls at their full power. The one above is a cascade at one end of Lake Wedington, which sits in a nearby patch of the Ozark National Forest. I took an early morning hike on the trail along the lake’s edge Sunday, my first time there.

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_C1_8524.JPGThe waterfall drains the lake around the trail’s halfway point and was absolutely gushing, tumbling 50 or so feet and throwing off curtains of mist. The torrent blocked me from going any further — the trail continues somewhere on the other side of this mist. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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_C1_8642.JPGToday brought another break in the rain, so I hurried down to Devil’s Den State Park this evening. Some of the waterfalls there are going as strong as I’ve seen.

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By this weekend, the falls might look more like this. Stay dry, everyone.

And at the risk of being way too presumptuous or commercial, if you all like any images in this or other posts, you can get prints of some of them (in much higher resolution) here. It might take a few days after a post for the photos to appear, but I keep it pretty up to date. Feel free to tell me which, if any, you’d like to have available.

Thanks for looking,

Dan

Over and under

_C1_2096.JPGThe Lost Valley near the Buffalo National River was lush and green the first time I walked its trail, yet Eden Falls at the trail’s end and Clark Creek down its middle ran almost totally dry. I took another look this past weekend, sure it would be different after days of rain.

High rivers and the water overtaking pasture fences on the way were promising signs, and the creek at the trailhead burbled just loud enough to hear in the forest’s quiet. But it wasn’t long before the boulders and other shattered remnants of the cave that once enclosed the creek were dry and silent. The forest floor was carpeted in green with splashes of purple, but no water.

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Soon, though, I could hear the sound of falling water from higher up on the valley wall. A steep but short climb took us to an emerald gem that many have taken to calling the moss falls. No more doubts for me.

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_C1_2037This is the creek’s source, where it comes gushing out of a cave high on the south side of the valley. Eden Falls was lively and the creek below it flowed brightly. It seemed nothing but bizarre that the waterway further down the trail would be so dry instead of even more lively. Walking back toward the entrance along the creek bed soon gave the answer to this puzzle: a big crack at the base of another waterfall, where the water disappeared in a swirl of bubbles.

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It wouldn’t emerge until a few hundred feet downstream, right before the natural bridge in that first photo.

Thanks for looking.

Dan

Early spring

_C1_0323.JPGThis is just wrong, y’all.

Trees and other plants from the South to the Great Lakes are coming to life several weeks early. Four days this month have reached record high temperatures, according to the National Weather Service, and we’ve gotten to 80 degrees twice. January had 11 days above 60, while the average is in the 40s. Now, there’s always been wacky weather, and climate scientists are always quick to point out that climate change doesn’t cause any single weather pattern, instead affecting the probability of certain events. But it’s hard not to wonder if the highest carbon dioxide levels in millions of years have something to do with all of this.

On top of that, these particular blossoms belong to a Bradford pear, an ornamental but invasive species that humans brought here from east Asia. Invasive species like these trees and honeysuckles crowd out native plants and steal away their light and nutrients, which can hurt local bugs, birds, mammals, soil, water and us, and they’re hard to get rid of.

Basically we’ve made a mess, even if it looks nice or feels great.

_C1_0222.JPGThat brings me to these rock piles along Lee Creek at Devil’s Den State Park. I know I’ve shown them here at least once before, and they’re a pretty and neat way for dozens or even hundreds of people to connect in the same space. It’s also something we shouldn’t be doing, come to find out. It’s bad for creek beds and the fish and amphibians and bugs living in and under them, and it’s something park rangers around the country are trying to stop.

Anyway, I don’t mean to be the buzzkill during some really fantastic weather. The point is we humans have a way of leaving our marks big and small. Keep an eye on them.

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Thanks for lookin’.

Dan