Ozark Morning at Natural Dam

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Early morning sun began to touch the tips of trees upstream.

I expressed embarrassment to local photographer Eric Scowden that I’d lived in the Ozarks for fifteen years without driving the short distance to see Natural Dam Falls. He’d photographed Natural Dam before, so we headed up AR 59 north of Van Buren to have a look before sunup. Typical of cold mornings, we had the place to ourselves.

We kept our ears open for approaching traffic while placing tripods on the nearby road. Natural Dam Road has led a hard life here in the path of the Mountain Fork of Lee Creek. We saw evidence of recent repairs from last month’s winter floods. When the creek reaches flood stage, the road and dam can literally disappear.

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Eric composing shots from Natural Dam Road

Eric is an outstanding photographer so watching him move around for different compositions and angles inspired me to experiment more than usual. He changed lens from zoom to wide-angle which wasn’t an option for me with my non-SLR camera. We both had our heavy tripods, essential pieces of equipment for scenic photography.

IMG_5740rrWilliam Larrimore came across this wide stone ledge while hunting in 1819. He built a small gristmill on the left (northwest) side of the ledge. Large rectangular rocks that formed the foundation still sit next to the creek. Natural Dam became one of the earliest settlements in Crawford County and by 1838, a post office and store were located in the town of Natural Dam.

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Eventually, we walked upstream to check out a small cascade across the creek. We agreed that this will be a great photo location in the spring and fall when colorful foliage is reflecting on the water. On this morning, the white bark of leaning sycamore trees sparkled nicely on the glassy surface of Mountain Fork Creek.

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Eric focusing on reflecting light

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We could have spent the whole morning at Natural Dam, but another trail was on the itinerary, so we finally pulled ourselves away as sunshine warmed the air and locals began to arrive.

Waterfalls are never the same twice. I look forward to future visits to Natural Dam.

 

Changing Seasons Along the Trails

Lake Alma Trail at sunset.

Lake Alma Trail at sunset.

I love the changes in season.  New colors always seem to surprise.

Fall leaves along the trail

Fall leaves along the Lake Alma Trail.

Season change often brings beauty right under your feet if you’re noticing.

Old roadbed on the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Old roadbed on the Ozark Highlands Trail.

What might be an ordinary roadbed that follows the path of the trail glitters with color.

Sweet gum leaf at a wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail

Sweet gum leaf at a wet crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail

Little scenes of beauty surround you and are easily overlooked.  Following the crossing of this little creek in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area, I was captured by the beauty of the path I’d just traveled.

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Progress down the trail was slow because my camera kept calling to me to please stop.

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

Lake Alma Trail

Lake Alma Trail

Back home again.  We’ll end where we began with the evening sun lighting up the 3.8 mile trail at Lake Alma.