Thursday, April 12, 2012

Smoky Mountain Waterfalls

This April's trip to the Smoky Mountain area was rich in two of my photographic passions - wildflowers and waterfalls.  There was no time to address the third passion, birds, though we were constantly hearing warblers singing in the treetops.  This time, I will present the best of the waterfalls.

Our dear friends near Knoxville took us to the Bald River near Tellico Plains. In my research on the area, I had not been alerted to this location, and I wonder why.

Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains, Tennessee

Most interesting in this particular falls is the pool halfway down on the right side. Notice the large boulders resting in the pool. I'll surely return to this waterfalls on any future visit.  And, I'll be sure to again visit the little bakery in Tellico Plains for lunch. It is a must.

Little River Cascade

Arriving at the Smoky Mountain National Park on Tuesday, we drove the Little River Road as a roaring rainfall slowed traffic.  The nearly continuous progression of cascades and small waterfalls  set my first priority for the next day, mapping the best waterfalls.

A key to this area is locating both the nice drops and the safe parking areas.  I noted the key areas as we drove up to Cades Cove with mileages, and checked the weather to learn that the next morning would begin cloudy, perfect for waterfall photography. The next morning I began at a nice cascade about 2.5 miles below the Sinks.

Working upstream towards the Sinks, I found this nicely framed drop in the river. To me, this image is about the plants that frame the waterfall.

Streamside Flowers- Little River

Now, to reveal why the Sinks is perhaps the most popular site on the Little River.  This falls has steeply inclined plates of richly color rocks, and is the largest drop on the river.

The Sinks on Little River

There are many different ways to look at the Sinks.  I also like this view.

Newly Leafed Trees at the Sinks

Our wildflower forays were usually around streams, and so we also discovered some nice hillside cascades coming down steep slopes. This was near the Elkmont campground on the upper reaches of the Little River. It was a rich wildflower area. The cascade was lined at places with Brook Lettuce that resisted my attempts to photograph; preferred not to take a bath because of the slippery rocks.  Next time I will take hip boots so I can move around more freely.

On a second cloudy day, I found the nice cascade seen below. It was along the Little River in a site  that required a little rock scrambling to see.  I only wished the Rhododendron was in bloom for this image to add more "pop" to the scene.

Large Cascade on Little River

On our final day in the park, we went east of Gatlinburg to the Porter Creek area. The Little Pigeon River is  a beautiful trout stream formed at the junction of the Porter Creek and the Ramsey Cascade.  The junction is an intriguing setting that proves to be very difficult to capture, largely due to the large trees along the river bank.  Rather than eliminate the one Y-shaped tree, I decided to use it as the inverted pattern of the two branches of the incoming Ramsey Cascade. The Ramsey Cascade splits around an island in the middle ground as the Porter Creek spills in from the right hand side. Another photographer told me "Someday I will get this right.  Someday."

Beginning of the Little Pigeon River

I cannot close without showing why the Porter Creek area was a favorite that will call me back on a future trip. It was very rich with wildflowers.  I found beds of  Hepatica acutiloba that covered areas the size of a queen size bed.  They were past bloom, so I must go again earlier in the season.  But, we also found this delicate little Pink Lady's-slipper.  Wild orchids and waterfalls are sure to excite me about future visits.


Paul Schmitt

1 comment:

  1. I could sit and watch waterfalls all day long. Wonderful photos, the cascading is mesmerizing....and what an incredible trip, Paul!