Rusty’s Weekly Recap 1.9.2017
New for 2017, this weekly recap highlights some of the photography-related road trips I took and projects I worked on the prior week.
As always, click on the photos and/or videos to view in full screen mode.
I started out 2017 with a New Year's Day hike with my family at Whipple Dam State Park in Huntingdon County, the closest state park to my home in State College. We hiked the 3 mile loop trail around frozen-over Whipple Lake - here's a shot of my daughter along the way.
On Wednesday the 4th I made a two-hour trek to Sullivan County to check out some of the waterfalls in and around Worlds End State Park. I started out at Dutchman Falls, just off of Route 220, near LaPorte and the eastern end point of the Loyalsock Trail. It was flowing impressively (as was the Loyalsock Creek that it spills into).
After spending an hour at Dutchman Falls, I made the quick trip to Worlds End State Park and my first target there - High Rock Falls.
Driving into the park I could see the water tumbling down the hillside from this waterfall, so I knew conditions were ripe for the strenuous-but-short off-trail hike to its base. The top of the falls is fairly easy to reach via the High Rock Trail, but the real photo-ops are to be had at the bottom. This one doesn't flow very well very often, so it's a rare treat to catch it looking as remarkable as it did on that day.
I spent approximately 45 minutes at High Rock Falls, at times waiting for passing clouds to obscure the sun which had made itself known around noon. Once I was satisfied with the shots I had taken there, I hiked back to my vehicle and made the 5 minute drive to the Double Run Trailhead, right off Route 154.
The Double Run Nature Trail winds alongside Double Run, a smallish stream with no towering waterfalls to speak of, but many cascades that are equally exquisite
The "payoff", if you will, at the end of my hike along this trail was Cottonwood Falls. Perhaps 10 feet tall, this one was flowing in a bang-up manner and coupled with some delicate foreground riffles, made for a splendiferous scene.
After spending 20 minutes or so at Cottonwood Falls, I hiked back to my vehicle and considered trying to drive to Mineral Springs Falls, located nearby in the park along the Loyalsock Trail. Upon closer inspection of the icy dirt road leading to it, I decided driving it would be too hazardous and daylight was fading too quickly to make an out-and-back hike to it feasible, so I headed back to State College.
Saturday the 7th found me in Fayette County at Ohiopyle State Park. Despite single-digit temperatures and forecasts of dangerous wind chills, I dressed as if on a polar expedition, made the trip, and was rewarded with one of the most resplendent days I've ever spent there.
My first stop was Cucumber Falls, right around sunrise. I've photographed this one countless times, but this may be my favorite shot to date. Just the right amount of ice, flow, and light on this morning to make it a stunning capture.
My next stop was the Jonathan Run Trail, to me the very heart of the park. I hiked down that winding way to where it intersects with the Sugar Run Trail, then jumped onto that path for the short jaunt to Fechter Run Falls.
This one was flowing marvelously and was certainly selfie-worthy.
From Fechter Run Falls I back-tracked along Sugar Run Trail to Jonathan Run Trail, then continued hiking to Upper Jonathan Run Falls. Once again I was greeted by stellar conditions.
From Upper Jonathan Run Falls I continued down the Jonathan Run Trail, temporarily bypassing Lower Jonathan Run Falls, to reach the Great Allegheny Passage. A left turn and a short hike later I was standing at Mitchell Field Trail, where it meets the GAP. This is this stairway, if you will, to my favorite waterfall at Ohiopyle State Park - Sugar Run Falls.
Sugar Run Falls to me is the perfect combination of intricacy and power. So many little steps as is tumbles down the steep hillside that leads to the Youghiogheny River below. It was a wonderful blend of ice and flow on this early January morning.
After finishing up at Sugar Run Falls, I hiked back to the GAP and went a few yards further west on it to an area that always seems to have magnificent ice formations along the steep rock walls. Like a scene from Lord of the Rings, this always rates as a winter highlight at Ohiopyle State Park for me.
Back-tracking on the GAP to the Jonathan Run Trail, I made my way to the day's toughest-to-reach falls, Lower Jonathan Run Falls. This one is never a simple scamper, but on this day with ample snow and ice, having my Kahtoola microspikes on my boots made it a fairly safe descent into the gorge where this waterfall resides.
By the time I finished shooting Lower Jonathan Run Falls, the coffee pot at the Falls Market in Ohiopyle was calling to me, so I hoofed it up out of the gorge and back to my RAV4 at the trail head.
As I drove back onto town I noticed there was no one at the Ohiopyle Falls viewing platform, so I made a quick detour into the parking area there and snapped a few frames from that vantage point. Normally I would shoot these falls from the opposite bank, along the Ferncliff Trail, but I was running low on camera battery life and caffeine (mostly caffeine), so I decided to call it a day, grab my coffee, and make my way back to my parent's place in Somerset County.
I shot a few minutes of video at each waterfall I visited that day, the best of which can be viewed below.
All-in-all a supreme start to 2017. If every week follows this pattern, 2017 will be another epic year of monumental road trips and superlative photography!