12.12.21: Wooded hillside

A hillside in the forest in Clear Creek Metro Park, Rockbridge, Ohio.

A hillside in the forest in Clear Creek Metro Park, Rockbridge, Ohio.

Nice photo after difficult hike with a heavy load

A trail that started out steep and rocky was becoming progressively steeper and rockier. My legs were screaming and I was already sweating through my clothes.

Clear Creek Metro Park, part of the Franklin County, Ohio, Metro Park system, is a bit of an anomaly. The park isn’t located in Franklin County. To reach the park from Columbus, in Franklin County, you have to drive southeast through Fairfield County and into Hocking County.

The park is located in the Hocking Hills region, an area with terrain that is much different from the mostly flat land in other areas of Ohio.

I didn’t know how different the terrain would be when I decided to make my first visit to Clear Creek in 2006. I had hiked most of the other metro parks (and many other areas) on photo trips so I assumed I was ready for just about anything. So I grabbed my very heavy 600 millimeter lens, in case I found an area suitable for bird photography, threw a few lenses for landscape photography, a monopod and a tripod into my backpack and made the hour drive to the park.

I checked the map, picked a trail that looked interesting and set off carrying about 35 pounds of gear.  About 15 minutes later I realized this photo hike was going to much more difficult than expected. A trail that started out steep and rocky was becoming progressively steeper and rockier. My legs were screaming and I was already sweating through my clothes.

So I decided to take a brief break. As I turned to put my backpack down I saw how the morning sun was backlighting the trees growing vertical from a diagonal hillside base. I thought this might make an interesting photo and give me an excuse to extend my brief break, so I grabbed the tripod and a wide-angle zoom lens and set up for a shot. When I saw the photo later on the computer I liked the feeling of isolation and remoteness it created.

After taking the photo I packed everything up and resumed my uphill hike. About five minutes later I found another scene I liked so I took another break for a photo. And that was about all I got in almost seven miles of rocky, mostly uphill hiking hauling a heavy load.

But I’ll take it. 

The Hocking Hills region is a great area for photography. I mentioned that the terrain is much different from the mostly flat land in other areas of Ohio. Blame it on the Wisconsin glacier that covered Ohio from 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. It flattened the area, but southeastern Ohio (about an hour’s drive from my house) was outside the glaciation of the ice age and remained ruggedly hilly and forested.

The same glacier that flattened much of Ohio is responsible for creating the Hocking Hills, one of the most geologically unique – and photogenic – areas in Ohio. The ruggedly hilly section of southeastern Ohio features gorges, cliffs, caves and waterfalls created when torrents of water from the melting glacier rushed through that area.

According to Wikipedia: “When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The ‘slump rocks’ in the gorges today are what’s left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today.”

The waterfalls, deep, rocky gorges and towering, forested hills make Hocking Hills State Park one of my favorite areas for photography. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house, but it’s worth the trip.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jul 4, 2006 8:23 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: 10.0-22.0 mm 
  • Focal length: 22mm
  • Aperture: f/18
  • Shutter: 2 seconds
  • ISO: 200

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