Fall at Fall Creek Falls

There is nothing more sublimely delightful to me than fall. The colors are a huge part of it, of course, but the way autumn captivates my heart has more to it than color. The cool weather, the moisture, and the sweet smell of composting leaves are different notes to creation’s yearly symphony.

I returned last week to Fall Creek Falls State Park, my new great escape in middle Tennessee. I had planned to be there at sunrise to photograph, but a front moved in the night before and socked in all of middle Tennessee with clouds. There would be no sunrise, a development that allowed my wife a few extra hours of sleep and thus confirmed her conviction that God loves her deeply.

No matter. The Cumberland Plateau was still engulfed in clouds and mist when we arrived, adding its own touch to the landscape. I frequently say that the best weather for photography is pretty much the worst weather for just about everything else, and that proved true this day. There’s something magical about the way a low-hanging mist weaves its way through rocks and trees, concealing then revealing subtle shapes and patterns.

And water adds something to landscape photography and enables images that would be impossible otherwise. Even though it was a brisk 38 degrees, it was a thrill to be there.

After a few hours of driving around, gawking, and photographing when the rain slowed to a gentle drizzle, we were damp and cold and hungry. So we decided it was time for lunch and retreated to the lodge for to warm up and enjoy a couple of club sandwiches.

Renewed and refreshed, we headed back out. Some of the fog had burned off and we decided a hike was in order. There was an overlook above Cane Creek Falls that we’d seen from the other side of the gorge the last time we visited. Unreachable by car, you can only get there on foot and we’d decided this was the day. After a short hike, we arrived at the overlook to see this:

It was still a bit foggy, but the colors popped and it was breathtaking. While we were taking it all in another couple showed up and remarkably, he was hiking barefoot. In 40 degree weather. We talked to them a bit and he said something about the Native Americans believing that walking barefoot brings you closer to the earth. He seemed to be enjoying his hike immensely, just as I was in my thoroughly waterproof boots. To each his own.

We stayed at the overlook a while longer, just enjoying the scenery and the roar of the water before heading back. On the way back I made a few more images.

Once back at the car, we decided that the afternoon was getting kind of long in the tooth, and with no prospects of a sunset, we decided to head home. The day had given us all we had a right to ask of it.

Fall’s not over though. There are more places to visit, and more to come . . . .

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