Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cossatot River State Park in Arkansas

This past weekend Rick and I traveled to Cossatot River State Park in Arkansas to see if we could get some good pictures of the changing foliage.  Rick had done some research and this was a recommended site to see the colors of the leaves changing.  We got to the park at about 8:00 am Saturday morning and talked to a really nice park ranger there.  She told us the park was really known for the Cossatot Falls, but that they weren't real active right now because the river was only about 11 inches deep.  She got out a park map and showed us where some of the campsites were and where some of the trails were. She also explained where the trails were "moderate hiking" and where they were "difficult hiking".  We drove on down to the campsites to see if we could get one and were very fortunate that a group was packing up.  We talked with them and they said we could leave our stuff, so we reserved the site, dropped off our tent, changed shoes, got out the camera equipment and started off!  I was so excited ~ even though the leaves weren't what we expected  ...  they were mostly brown, and not changing at all ... I was really hoping we could get some good pictures by walking the river trail.

We started our hike at the closest trail to our newfound campsite.  It starts at this bridge.  I wanted to get a shot FROM the bridge, but people kept walking by and I had to keep taking everything down, so I moved to the dry stream-bed and got this shot instead.

We started on down the trail and quickly took one of the cut-offs to the river.  We could hear the rushing water and wanted to see if we could get some shots of the falls.  One of the things I have been dying to try since our last photo competition (Blur ~ capturing movement) was to try to get a picture of moving water where it looked like it was moving - not take a picture where it stopped the flow.  This was my first attempt ... the water looks OK, but I didn't really like the big rock blocking most of it!

So I tried a little different angle and another try at getting the water to look like it is moving  ... I was so happy when I saw the results!

After these shots we went back to the River Trail.  It was only about 1 foot wide and started to get pretty steep.  It seemed also to be taking us further and further from the river.  After a pretty steady hike we decided to head back and try one of the other trails the park ranger had told us about.  We were really hoping they would be trails that were closer to the bank of the river itself.

We found the trail close to a low river crossing bridge.  Because of our experience earlier we decided to hike a little of the trail first without carrying all the equipment.  We were glad we did.  Once again the trail was very narrow and followed a ridge high above the river.  You could look down occasionally and see the river through the trees, but that wasn't really what we wanted.  We turned around and headed back to the trailhead.  We pulled out out our jerky, trail-mix and water and tried to decide what we wanted to do.  We finally decided we were there to take pictures, and we were going to try to get SOMETHING while we were there, so we might as well try to walk the riverbed.

You didn't think I could go anywhere to take fall pictures and not take some of the leaves did you?  These leaves were close to the bridge where we stopped. I wish there had been more leaves showing this kind of color!

This was such a contrast of the bright red on the black it really caught my eye.

These are some of the striations on the rock formations along the river.  I loved the blend of colors and the way they seemed to "move".

We finally decided to see if we could walk along the bank of the river itself.  At times it wasn't too bad ~ after all it was pretty low, but there were places where you had to go up on the bank and force your way through thick brush and then make your way back down to the river bank again.  This is from the river bank as we came out of the brush ... I thought this made it worth some of the hard work we were doing!

I really wanted to get a shot of the falls further down the river from the front, not the side, so I walked on the large rocks in the river until I got to almost the middle of the river where I sat down and took these next couple of shots.

Still from the rocks in the middle of the river, a view of two small "waterfalls" making their way to the calmer river.

Continuing farther along the river bank we passed these "rapids"

As we headed off to look for the ravine back up to the trail I stopped to get this final shot of the river through some of the colorful leaves.

After the frustrations of trying to get some good pictures, when we got back to the campsite we talked it over and decided to head on home and make a detour on the way to check out Cooper's Lake State Park.  We are always looking for places close to home for a photo shoot getaway!  We went ahead and pulled up stakes and headed back home to Texas.  We stopped for dinner in Broken Bow, OK and the skies opened up!  While we were eating dinner we kept seeing all the bad weather coming our way.  We headed out hoping the worst had already passed by but didn't get too far before it got even worse and we decided to stop for the night rather than try to get all the way to the state park and put up a tent in THAT kind of weather!  We found a nice Quality Inn and hunkered down to wait out the storms.  

After a hot breakfast in the morning we loaded up the car and headed toward Cooper's Lake. When we got to the Visitor Center we talked to the girl working the desk.  She told us that they were sure glad they had gotten the 2.5 inches of rain the night before...we thought we were just going to be out of luck walking any of the trails but went ahead and drove around the park to take a look anyway, just to see what it was like.

After driving through and taking a quick break we decided we would give hiking a try, despite the 2.5 inches of rain they had received the night before.  It sure felt good to get out of the car and stretch our legs!  The trail really wasn't too muddy at all.  As we came through the trees and into a clearing we saw a field of flowers and butterflies.  What an amazing opportunity to try and get some colorful shots!  I am still working on "things that move away quickly" LOL.

I think this is my best photo of the weekend!  I can't believe he posed for me long enough for me to get both shots!  This will be my entry in the projected images category for our next "OPEN" Camera Club contest.

I can't wait until we get to go out and shoot again.  I am continuing to learn so much and I'm having so much fun doing it!

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