Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? I have, and it’s one of my favorite spots in East Tennessee. Bald River Falls is part of the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico, TN. When I saw the weather report of temps below zero here I knew two things would happen… 1) My fellow southerns would FREAK.OUT and 2) I and my camera were ready to hit the falls on the day temps started to rise. That day was today.
I’m NOT a morning person, and even though I went to bed at my usual 3:30am “photographer bedtime” I was up and ready to go at 8:30. Ha! I recruited the moms to drive (hey it’s hard to shoot and drive people…I’ve done it just a few times 😉 ) and I wanted to be able to jump and run if need be. And that need would be later on the trip back HA!
We stopped on the way and picked up my SIL and the niece and nephew, who I may or may not have convinced to walk out and “skate” on their solid frozen above ground pool. (Don’t worry, I’d never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself…though Hunter would anyways…) I even stepped out on the solid sheet of now frozen pool, and given I was TERRIFIED my adult body weight would plummit through the ice like a brick on eggshells, I dared NOT take my camera. There is however a camera phone image or two to prove I was either cool enough, or crazy enough…maybe both, to step out on a frozen swimming pool! Something I don’t think has happened around these parts since the great ice storm of 1995!
We made the drive, me getting car sick a few times along the way despite my front passenger side seat, and when I saw the “Slush” in the Tellico River I was like a kid at Christmas ready to tear open the wrappings of what belied us at the Falls.
When we passed a “whited out” spot in the river I wanted to stop on the way up, but mother dearest cried “Can’t stop! I’m on a mission!” but you better believe she slowed down to gawk at some icecicles hanging from the moss (which I snagged a shot of on the way back…you’ll see in a moment). “BOOOOOOO!” I thought begrudingly, but I WOULD get that shot on the way back…I WOULD capture the completely frozen from one side to the other, water flowing UNDER the white ice, river on the way back! I did…literally jumped out of the car as vehicles approached quickly behind us, crossed the road, popped off TWO quick fires of the shutter before bounding back across the road and entering the now slowing moving vehicle! HA! 😉
SO, we marched on. A few yells at morons driving on OUR side of the already narrow/almost 2-lane road, and then we rounded the curve and saw a nice gathering of folks on the bridge. I loosed my seat belt, and was ready to pounce! Though I had to go back to the car and get the spare battery as I just knew this one wouldn’t have enough “juice” to get me through. (I was right! Praise Jesus for going back and getting it!)
I snapped a few from the bridge, where everyone else was also taking the same shot, but then saw where I wanted to be…down below…the niece, nephew, SIL, my gear and I made our way slowly down….well they all seemed to bound down without hurry, but this usual bull in a China shop was taking it extra slow…a sudden cautionary thought to the thousands of dollars dangling from my neck and arm slowed me a lot more so than normal. We were finally away from the crowd, bring on the different perspective shots that I’ve come to seek out wherever I go!
I was glad I dressed well, even though I’ve always said I could live in an igloo, my gloves, Bama Hoodie, and bejeweled BCBG sweat pants served me well. No make-up to boot, and I looked like one seriously HOT MESS…emphasis on the “mess”….you’ll see…Autumn grabbed a shot of me literally climbing up a snowy ledge 😉
I reached the bottom, but something, like always, kept pulling me further away from the pack. I followed the little foot trails Autumn and Hunter had made as they seemed to fly all around the slick/snowy coated rocks around the bottom of the fall’s pool. I flashed back to being their age…that would’ve been me. Ahhhh adulthood you evil thief of youth, thoughts of broken bones, sprained ankles, or worse, to me anyways, broken camera gear, slowed me, making sure each step was a sure and solid one before proceeding.
While standing there taking pictures we suddenly heard a thunderous RUSH of water…PANIC struck as I imagined some sort of “dam break” and we were about to be COVERED in rushing water…or swept away would have been more like what would’ve happened, but alas THANKFULLY it was “just” a huge chuck of ice being pushed off the rocks and unleashing more of the water it was trying to contain. What a “rush” 😉 HAHA!
We wandered further and further back thru the snow/ice coated braches, under Rhodo thickets, and finally came to what seemed like a solid spot. That’s when Hunter revealed we were standing on FROZEN pools of the “side fall” that usually streams down to the right of the big falls. It was coated in snow so it wasn’t slippery, but I quickly moved from that ledge on to what I assumed was “REAL” ground.
It’s awe-inspiring the shapes nature takes in different weather conditions, and I snapped as much as I could while still keeping cautionary thought on my footing. Autumn finally got too cold and turned back. My other set of hands to hand the camera off to/help guide me and the gear up here was now retreating. Somehow though I knew my adventurous (that’s an understatement folks) nephew had my back.
We poked around, he climbing higher and higher parallel to the mini-vertical falls, for a little bit longer and then decided we’d better head back too. How on earth we got up there looking down I didn’t know. I MUST be crazy! “No risk, No reward!” was playing on repeat in my head. It’s a common theme wherever I go these days it seems, and it hasn’t let me down thus far.
We scaled the rocks, ice ledges, and scurried back under the branches and thickets which I discovered on the return trip were covered in gigantic thorns, to return to the base, and as I looked back one last time to pop off a few more shots I thought to myself “What a wonderful world!”.
I pondered a moment at the majesty before me how anyone could doubt something THIS breathtaking was just “by chance”, and then thanked the Lord that it was created for me to marvel and capture at that very moment in time. Others took thousands of images this day too I’m sure, but in that one moment it was all “for me”, and I’m so thankful 2014’s challenge to take more “me” time, and more adventures to capture God’s creation, was off to a splendid start.
So, please enjoy my beloved images of a Frozen Bald River Falls, a sight we don’t see to often round here, and know that should you want one or a grouping in your home they’re available in the BJP Fine Art Gallery by Clicking Here. Also, in celebration of this rare beauty now through January 16th, 2014 take 25% OFF all BJP Fine Art purchases by entering the promo code FROZEN and updating your cart.