24 hours, 473 miles, rain, more rain, muddy roads and Missouri mills, night skies and waterfalls. We drove a section of the original Trail of Tears, finding some new camp spots and backroads along the way. We enjoyed gravel bars along the crystal clear Current River in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, stayed up most of the night photographing the stars above Council Bluff Lake, and devoured some delicious stir fry and drank crisp refreshing IPAs.
Success is all about your perspective. My friend Joe Howard and I set out to shoot the Milky Way. Off to Council Bluff Lake we went. Upon our arrival into camp, a Southern Flying Squirrel kept us company as it ate insects on a poison ivy wrapped tree. We managed to snag a few shots (and not getting poison ivy rash) before making the trek down to the lake for some hopeful Milky Way photography.
We had a couple hour window before the moon came up. While we never got to see the core, the night was perfect. Temperatures were comfortable and the small breeze kept the bugs at bay. Jupiter and Cassiopeia showed off through holes in the clouds. The old Ozark Mountains across the lake appeared as large silhouettes. With a bit of light-painting the scene turned out to be pretty damn awesome. Our night ended at around 3am with some well earned stir fry and some Lagunitas IPAs (at least for me).
Rains the following morning took over off and on throughout the day. We were en route for Eminence. Eminence is a place that really makes Missouri shine. This is the area where Missouri starts to show off. The hills get bigger and the valleys get deeper. These valleys and other nooks and crannies give way to dark gorges, canyons, and hollows.
On our way to Eminence, we took the long way via the Trail of Tears Historic Trail. The rains made for muddy roads and flowing waterfalls. A stop along the Current River in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways led to a stop at Falling Spring Mill, Rocky Falls and Klepzig Mill.
While I wouldn’t say I found the shots I was planning on, I do say I’m happy with what we found and what I captured. I didn’t live behind the lens on this outing and just kind of soaked it all in. The Ozarks are a hidden gem in this country and I do believe Missouri is greatly underrated. While I may not have succeeded in capturing the shots that I set out for, I succeeded in finding a new outlook on life in Missouri and some new challenges and goals.
Joe and I discussed throughout the trip how Missouri was a difficult place to truly capture its beauty. I have been struggling with this since relocating here. Gone are the days of having the Milky Way or Lake Superior out my front door, or even turning off the TV and grabbing the camera to photograph the northern lights that shined through our front window. Things here aren’t just out the front door ready for you whenever you want them to be.
Missouri presents a new level of difficulty. The landscape doesn’t give itself to you but you have to go get it. Waterfalls are based on rainfall. Summer jungle-like foliage obstructs most Ozark Mountain views. You really need to be in the right place at the right time to capture its beauty. That challenge is what makes it all worth it. So ya, on that note, I’d consider myself successful this past weekend even though I didn’t quite get what I set out for. Remember this when you are in an artistic slump: success is all about perspective.