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.

_C1_1754

_C1_1770

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.

_C1_1867

_C1_1869

_C1_1943

_C1_1967

_C1_1953

_C1_1988

_C1_2025

_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.

_C1_2051

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

Thanks for looking.

Dan

Belly of the beast

_C1_1502.JPGNature tonight put on a display like I’ve never seen.

A massive line of storms filled the northern horizon by sunset, and before long streaks of light criss-crossed its entire length. Bolts zapped outside of their cover every few seconds, while those hidden in the thunderheads snaked like immense glowing dragons through curtains of rain and billowing vapor, something impossible to capture with photos. Despite all this, the sky directly above was still clear. Moonlight highlighted the storm’s edge.

It would have been enough for me if it had stopped there.

_C1_1384.JPG

_C1_1331.JPGIt didn’t stop there. After a couple of hours the dragons reached Fayetteville, and the lightning only picked up the pace. Barely half a second passed without a paparazzi-like burst. The roar of a serious downpour got louder and louder as it approached and swept from one end of my apartment complex to the other. Some hail fell. Mostly it was flash after flash after flash. Usually I struggle to get enough decent shots of these bolts. This time they were just about overwhelming.

_C1_1621.JPG

_C1_1663.JPG

_C1_1718.JPGThanks for the show, nature. And thank you for looking.

Dan