Platte Clove, Day 4: Feast or Famine
The deluge had ceased. However, in just a few short hours the landscape had changed from drought-like conditions to flooding. (In fact, Route 23A was closed for several hours in the morning due to a mudslide in the vicinity of Bastion falls). The bigger falls I wanted to photograph (e.g. Plattekill and Kaaterskill) had too much water for the kind of image I wanted and some of the smaller waterfalls become unsafe to access. To compound the problem – as often occurs after a storm moves through – the skies were crystal clear.
First thing in the morning I headed down to the base of Plattekill falls. Not only was there too much water going over the falls, but the spray generated within the amphitheater made getting a shot remarkably difficult. However with all the precipitation, the surrounding mosses and vegetation were incredibly vibrant, and I spent some time taking some more intimate landscape shots. Then it was a hike back to the top where I found an interesting view from the crest of the falls. The area where I was standing was in shadow, but the in the amphitheater below the trees were nicely lit. (Note to self, need to come back and do this with peak fall colors!)
The next stop was just a few hundred yards down the road to the Devil’s Kitchen area. When I had scouted here a few days earlier, I knew there was a lot of potential for great cascades and waterfalls – if only there was water running. Well I got my wish. I spent a lot of time upstream of the bridge, working as quickly as I could before the sun finally poked through the canopy. I then carefully made my way into the Devil’s Kitchen where water was finally visible cascading over the enormous boulders.
My expectations for the afternoon were not particularly high, but I headed to the North-South Campground nonetheless. My first destination was Ashley Falls, just a short hike from the road. There was too much frothy water and direct sunlight to warrant spending much time there; I find it more aesthetically pleasing if there is still some discernible texture in the waterfalls. I continued walking upstream and found upper Ashley falls which, due to the recent rains, was running quite nicely. I spent a fair amount of time here, trying not to fall into a compositional rut. By that I mean, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of setting up for a low, wide shot directly in front of the waterfall. In fact, I spent a lot of time during this trip trying to find different, unique compositions when dealing with waterfalls.
Late in the afternoon I hiked to Sunset Rock, an iconic overlook of North and South Lake. I took a few compositions and had intended to shoot through sunset, however the temperatures were dropping quickly and I did not feel comfortable navigating back in the dark. Instead, I raced back to North Lake as some clouds lit up from the setting sun, but never had time to compose an image. 0 for 2. I left too early from Sunset Rock to get the image I envisioned and returned too late to get the shot I wanted at North Lake. Lesson learned: stick it out at one location and get the shot!