Magic in Water – North Fork Saline River

Saturday, January 14 afternoon hike along the North Fork of the Saline River (off trail).   There is an old road that runs along the river and is still relatively clear and walkable without bushwhacking.  The road crosses the river several times, so depending on water levels, following the river may require bushwhacking along the bank or the hill above.   It’s a beautiful place, not far from the Wildcat Mountain Bike Trail trailhead.

On this particular day I was learning/experimenting with settings for slow-motion video on my camera and decided that the flowing river would be a good subject.  Here is a 3 minute sample of the results.

Filmed on a Panasonic GH2 (44Mbit patch), mostly hand held in the late afternoon-evening using a very slow Olympus 9-18 f/4-5.6 at high ISO’s.  Considering how dark it was, late in the afternoon and early evening, the quality is better than I expected. The high ISO’s turned out to be a problem in combination with in-camera NR, which was set to default. For the slow motion, it was shot in Cinema mode at 720p 60fps, then conformed to 23.976fps and slowed to 66% in Premiere.

I learned a lesson about using high ISO’s for video and leaving noise reduction on…  it introduces pulsating artifacts as the NR tries to reduce the ISO noise.  The solution, of course, is to use a faster lens in such lighting conditions.  OK… next time.   The great music is by Chris Zabriskie, who very generously lets us use his music under a Creative Commons license. Thanks Chris.

This section of the North Fork Saline River is generally flowing as shown in the film, or less.  If you come out here after heavy rains, its a raging torrent.  I hiked out here after days of heavy rain a few months ago and it was difficult getting around due to all of the overflowing streams and the river being out of its banks.  In summer there is always some water, although by August it may not be flowing. Great place for off-trail hiking.

Hidden Wilderness – short film about a waterfall in the Ouachita Mountains

I visited this spectacular place on the Maumelle River after recent rains (Dec ’11).  The USGS reported the peak flow on this date to be 1,200 CFS, which is about 539,000 gallons/minute.   On the day before the area received about 1.2 inches of rain.    The typical streamflow here is more like 100 CFS or about 1/10th or less of the flow on this incredible day.

I’m not a geologist but I think this type of falls is called a “block falls”; a very wide waterfall where a river drops across a rock ledge.  ”Block falls” are typically wider than tall.  In fact, there is a rock formation that runs across the river at this point and makes a nice bluff on the eastern side of the river. At this point in history this wonderful place is in the middle of timberland, just on the eastern edge of the Ouachita National Forest.  I’m not sure whether it’s within the ONF or not.  In any case, it’s spectacular, beautiful, highly scenic and deserves preservation.   I hope in the future this area will be recognized for its scenic beauty and will be protected long-term.

Geek info:  Filmed with a Panasonic GH2 Micro 4/3 camera (44Mbit patch) using an Olympus 9-18mm wide angle lens and Panasonic 100-300mm telephoto lens.  On the Oly 9-18mm I also used a Heliopan 52mm variable ND filter (wonderful quality, no color shift or effect on sharpness).  Actually, a 67mm variable ND would have been very useful for the telephoto shots; it was a very bright day and I had to stop down maximally to get acceptable light levels.  The Heliopan is said to be one of the best; other variable ND filters have color shift issues and some may affect sharpness.  I also recorded sound using a Sony PCM-D50, but ended up not using it for the video.  Need to work on getting this rig to be easier to use in remote places.

The player is set to SD by default. If you have a fast connection or want to view full screen, turn on HD.

Wildcat Mountain Bike Trail – update 2011

This is the trail!

Wildcat Mountain Bike Trail - September 2011

What a mess!!!!   On September 5th, 2011 I hiked the entire Wildcat Mountain Bike Loop trail.  I’ve hiked this loop so many times since in the last eleven years that I’ve lost count.   It never was maintained particularly well or frequently, but in recent years it has reached a new low.

Wildcat Mountain Bike Trail used to be a nice loop hike in the eastern Ouachita National Forest.  The trailhead is located just a few miles west of highway 9, just off of the Winona Scenic Drive.  It’s an ~ 8.5 mile loop through terrain that varies from flat riverbottom land (near North Fork Saline River) to mountains (near Wildcat Mountain).  It was created by stringing together old country/logging roads, several of which are still traveled, rarely, by cars and trucks.  There are two short sections that are single track trail.  Even these were made ‘two-track’ by ATV’s (which are prohibited, but that never stops anybody).  Over time the old roads became single track in many places and, for a time, it was a nice trail.   There were trail markers, even trail maps put up in 3-4 places and the trail was blazed with white blazes.  That was then…
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Ouachita Hiking Journal – redesigned

Buckeye Mountain Trail

Buckeye Mountain Trail - Western Ouachita Mountains - Arkansas

What happened to the old OHJ?   The old site, which had been running for four years, since 2007, crashed on Sept 24 while attempting to upgrade Drupal, the old CMS.   Drupal is not the most user friendly CMS out there and I had been thinking about moving to WordPress for a while.  So, I decided to consider this an opportunity to design a new site using WordPress.

Right now there is not much here; the old site really did crash and I’m not going to resurrect it.  The photo gallery is intact (see “photos” link above).  Over the next few weeks I will rebuild the old hike pages, add new hike pages with maps and and add many more new photos.

I’m also adding several new features about Ouachita Mountain SOUNDS.  After decades of being focused on the visual (photography), I have recently discovered nature recording and a whole new world (for me) of nature sounds and soundscapes.  In the mean time, I’ve put some recordings on SoundCloud and posted an example here…

Frogs and crickets at Lundsford Corner pond

Finally, I’m rethinking the overall goals of this site and how it can be most useful.  Please check back over the next few weeks to see the new site!

Wildcat Mountain area – unnamed peaks west of Wildcat

Hike Features:

Wildcat Mountain Trail - partial off-trail hike

Large map in photo gallery

Date:  February 10, 2007
State: Arkansas
County: Perry
Location: Off Highway 9, on FR 179, just off FR 132 (Winona Scenic Drive).
Length of hike shown:  ~ 4.2 miles
Trail: Mixture of on-trail and off-trail
GPS: 516664.50E  3856035.19N 15S (UTM WGS84) (parking off forest road 179 (just off FR 132))

24 photos in OHJ Photo Gallery

Reaching Trailhead:    There is a parking lot at the trailhead.     From Little Rock, we drove out Hwy 10 until Williams Junction, then south on Hwy 9.   After a few miles, on a hilltop, there is a dirt road on the right called “Winona Scenic Drive“, which is a NFS maintained scenic route (and logging/forestry road).  The official name is FR132.  After a few miles (~ 3.3 miles), there is an intersection, where we turned left.   After just a few feet, on the left, there is a turn in for a small parking lot, with a trailhead sign announcing that we had arrived at Wildcat Mountain Bike Trail.
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