Visiting Ohiopyle State Park – 2.28.2015
This past Saturday, the last day of February, I decided to brave the cold and spend the day hiking around Ohiopyle State Park in search of frozen waterfalls.
I arrived at the Ferncliff Parking Area at 0630. The dash thermometer was reading 6 below zero, but I was reasonably well prepared with multiple layers of clothing, microspikes on my boots, and multiple spare batteries for the camera.
I proceeded down the Ferncliff Trail along the Yough to the Ohiopyle Falls overlook, opposite the new Visitors Center. I was hoping to catch a good sunrise, but the clear blue skies didn't bode well for a photogenic background (clouds are what make for an interesting sunrise shot, in my opinion). So after shooting a few frames to capture the predawn mist over the falls, I returned to the car and drove the 5 minutes to the Cucumber Falls parking area.
I was surprised to find no one else there on a Saturday, even at that early hour.
I descended the staircase down to the stream and spent some time exploring a few different points of view. By this time the sun had risen enough to put a nice golden glow on the trees around the top of the falls, so I concentrated on vertical compositions to capture as much of the trees/sky as I could, along with the frozen mass of ice that is currently the "falls".
After a half hour or so here, I got back in the car and headed to the Jonathan Run trail head parking area. I was pleasantly surprised to find the parking area plowed out (kudos to the Ohiopyle staff for that), but not surprised to find it empty.
The hike from the parking area to Upper Jonathan Run Falls took me about 40 minutes through the ankle deep snow, about 10 minutes longer than it would spring-fall.
Upper Jonathan Run Falls was frozen solid, as I expected. The sun was peaking through the trees and that made for a neat shot, but I didn't spend a great deal of time here, maybe 20 minutes. Then it was downstream to Lower Jonathan Run falls.
I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it down the steep banks to Lower Jonathan Run Falls, but after laying eyes on it, I decided to have a go at it. I found that the snow actually helped me with footing as it gave my boots/spikes something to dig into.
Once down at stream level, I spent a good 40 minutes here, working the different angles/compositions.
Carefully climbing back up out of the ravine, I made my way on down the trail to where it hits the GAP bike path, hung a left, and made my way over to Sugar Run Falls. This was probably the least photogenic of the falls that day, as the ice formations were covered over by a blanket of snow.
I spent maybe 10 minutes at Sugar Run Falls before back tracking to the bike path and down the trail a few minutes further to the Wall of Ice as I call it, which forms there every winter. It's quite impressive in person, and even though I've been subjected to countless viewings of "Frozen", I can still appreciate it.
After shooting some selfies at the Wall of Ice, I made my way back up the Jonathan Run Trail to the warmth of the car and headed back home, content with another great day in the woods.
Until next time - keep thinking Spring!