This series focuses on photos and videos from our local waterfalls in the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois. If you have not read our previous posts in this series click the following link: The Waterfall Chaser Archives.
Sunday August 15, 2010
That is exactly what I thought when we pulled into the parking area for the Big Rocky Hollow Trail. How after a long dry summer of 100 degree temps could water be running? That would first mean it had to rain hard enough to saturate the thirsty top surface, then you would have to have enough water left over to continue a flow for the next several hours.
While we were preparing to hike a couple was headed back to their car. We exchanged pleasantries and soon we had discovered the cause of the flowing water. The couple lived nearby at Lake of Egypt. They explained that early morning lighting and thunder pummeled the area, with it came massive amounts of water. They claimed that their rain gauge read over four inches. I was impressed, because living just 30 minutes west of Ferne Clyffe we received only a marginal amount of rain. Just enough to knock down the dust on the gravel roads.
Big Rocky Hollow Trail
This has always been one of my favorite trails and is hands down the most visited trail in the park. The parking area is at the end of the main road that winds it way by a 16 acre lake and bends to the right towards the heart of the park. Picnic shelters and play areas line the road before it terminates amongst massive rocks.
There are four trails that all begin here, but to get to our trail we head towards a turnaround area and hug the right side of the road. A wide well maintained trail leads into the forest greenery. The creek which currently resides on our left has over time leveled out from the power of running water.
I have been here many times over the years, seeing this place in the glow of autumn colors, in the spring when wildflowers thrive along the paths edges, in winter when a blanket of snow turns the area into a wonderland, but it is not very often that one can view a summer waterfall. All our falls in Southern Illinois are intermittent, so if the rains not falling, one has to imagine what it looks like.
As we walk the .75 mile trail to the falls, bluffs on both sides begin to rise. The path about halfway crosses the creek making one jump across the rushing water or forces them to get their shoes wet. Shortly afterward we come to a long metal bridge that recrosses the creek, this time without the acrobatics of the previous crossing.
It is before we cross that the sound of water begins to reverberate off the horseshoe canyon walls. A thin stream of water glistens off the sun that pokes its rays through the top of the falls. The fall plummets straight down then crashes into a shelter type area two-thirds of the way down. For the rest of the trip the water cascades in a zagging fluid motion to a small pool below.
As I set-up my video camera to record I think back to just this winter in late January when I made my way here after about a two week freeze. The sound of voices could clearly be heard. Who was crazy enough to back here in the dead of winter? What I found was a group of individuals who were were climbing this frozen masterpiece. I had never seen this done in Southern Illinois and I took the time to talk and photograph this group. I was happy to have had this experience and to meet fellow explorers of the Shawnee Hills.
I refocus on the task at hand and spend 15-20 minutes enjoying the the sounds of flowing water and continue to photograph and film this natural wonder. All to soon we were joined by a couple. We generously retreated so they too could enjoy the falls in there own way.
Note: The two photos in this post were taken in May 2010. The video below is from August 15, 2010.
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Disclaimer: The author and Shawnee Hills Outdoors disclaim any liability or loss incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application on any information contained in this blog. Please check ranger stations and park superintendents for latest information regarding these areas.
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