24 January 2010

Return to Great Falls National Park

Great Falls National Park Jan23 - Images by Elijah Goodwin

I didn't have a ton of time to get out this weekend, so I returned to one of my favorite local spots, Great Falls National Park.  With recent rains, the water level was even higher than a couple of weeks ago.  I had planned to take some pictures from the bottom of the falls at a kayak launch spot called Fisherman's Eddy.  The Eddy was completely flooded with no exposed rocks for me to work my way around towards the falls, so I quickly gave up that idea.  I had also hoped for a good sunset (internet weather was predicting >50% cloud cover for the evening), but the skies stayed clear and the sunset was uneventful.  Murphy's Law of Photographable Sunsets makes it so that when I'm working and either just heading out from school or back from Squash practice, the sunsets are gorgeous with dramatic cloud formations, but when I get a chance to go out, the sky is incredibly clear and the sunsets so-so at best.  At any rate, I headed back to one of my favorite spots above the falls (the stream in the Potowmack Canal was also high and difficult to cross).  At first I scoured the new river washed mud and sand (it must have been higher still a day or two ago) for animal tracks, but I only found some old and not particularly photogenic Great Blue Heron tracks.  So I carefully picked my way to the river banks to photograph the rushing water and rocks.  The winter aqua/blue color in the water from my previous trip had been mostly replaced by tan/brown silt the flooded river had picked up.  I enjoyed crawling over the rocks at the edge of where an overflow tributary met back up with the river and trying my hand at some abstracts of the rapids.  Although it was difficult to get into the right shooting position there were some relatively calm rapids on the tributary that were picking up the color of the sky and the setting sun in a really beautiful way.  I finished the evening sitting on a boulder at the edge that was half immersed in the river.  I could hear and feel large rocks and boulders shifting in the riverbed due to the flood waters.  Once the light had completely faded, I headed back to the car, but didn't bother to get my flashlight out and went over my boots in the canal stream.  Oh well, a small price to pay for a lovely evening.

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