Scouting Trip Update For Eden Falls in the Arkansas Ozark's - Part 2
In the first article, I discussed the location and hiking information for Eden Falls and my plans to expose some large format color films. Today, I share my experiences post the hike and my plans in the future when I return in prime conditions.
The trip to get to the Lost Valley Trailhead was easy and straightforward with good roads the entire way. I made a pit stop in Harrison, Arkansas to get a few supplies at the local Walmart Supercenter. Harrison is a sizable town with a full range of supplies and amenities, so if you need something for your trip, you should not have any issue locating it in Harrison. The drive from the Walmart parking lot to the trailhead took about 40 minutes. I was driving in total darkness at around 5 AM with fog and rain, so the drive should take considerably less time in better conditions.
Upon arriving at the trailhead, which has ample parking for many vehicles, I checked out the facilities. There were very clean restrooms with running water and flushable toilets. I was a bit surprised to find running water at the facilities, and the restrooms were also very clean. There is a picnic table near the trailhead that is tucked back under the forest understory that would make for a peaceful and relaxing time.
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. There is a map of Lost Valley Trail and the four waterfalls that you can explore. The creek runs right next to the parking area and right in front of the starting point for the trail. At times when the water levels are high, it may be challenging to park and gain access to this location.
The hike took about 40 minutes to reach the base of Eden Falls. I took frequent stops along the way to explore areas of interest. The total hike is approximately 1.15 miles from the trailhead to the base of Eden Falls, so the round trip hike is about 2.3 miles. The first 75% of the hike has a well maintained and flat surface which I would rate very easy and accessible for small children, older adults, and even handicapped persons as well. Once you start getting closer to the canyons, the trail changes drastically and I would rate the last section of the hike as moderate. Meaning, it probably isn't suitable for most small children, older adults that may have balance or mobility challenges, and it definitely is not handicap accessible. There are series of rock stairs that you have to climb to get access to the canyon and falls. However, even if the first 3/4 mile of the hike is all that you can do, it is still a worthwhile and very peaceful hike where you are surrounded by the forest. The trees should be absolutely stunning in the fall season, making the hike even better. I had light rain during my hike and I barely got any water on me at all because of the dense understory of the trees.
LARGE FORMAT PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE
The conditions were not suitable for me to expose any film on this trip, however, I gained valuable information for when I return in ideal conditions. Using the Viewfinder II application on my iPhone, I was able to hike around the base of the falls providing me with many different perspectives and focal length renderings. I now have a very solid plan on where I want to expose some sheets of film and which lenses I want to use. The information alone was worth the scouting trip.
While I was a little disappointed to not be able to expose any film, I now know that I want to expose some E-6 slide film for sure. I went into the hike thinking that I would probably be exposing some Ektar color negative film, but after I experienced the area first hand, I plan to return with some 8x10 Velvia 50. I have a case of Velvia 50 in my freezer and I treat it like gold because it is so expensive and difficult to acquire. The 8x10 Velvia 50 large format sheet film is only available from Japan and it is very expensive. This scene is ideal for Velvia 50 and I can see the slide film in my mind right now laying on the light table The hike is suitable for lugging 8x10 gear to the waterfall making this location even better. For the more difficult locations, I always hike with my 4x5 kit first because the pack is only 20 lbs vs 45 lbs. Some of the weight can be trimmed from the 8x10 kit if I bring only one lens and a couple film holders, reducing the weight to the mid 30's.
Because of the height of the canyon walls around the falls, the entire scene is under very ideal lighting conditions in the mornings in particular. The biggest challenge will be finding a time when the wind is very minimal because I found a small tree at the base of the falls that is going to add that special X factor if I can be there when the tree is in full autumn colors and the water is flowing. This small tree will likely shake in the wind, so I need a time when things are relatively still so I can create my exposures. It could take several years to get the ideal conditions on film. This is something the average person probably doesn't understand. We often work for years to find and wait for ideal conditions to create our photographs. It takes a lot of time, money, and patience to make some of these photos happen.
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Keywords: 4x5 chamonix, chamonix view camera, ektar, landscape photography, large format photography, provia, velvia
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