The Water’s Edge

“Water’s Edge” Porters Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

I’ve just returned home after spending twelve days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Springtime in the Smokies is an annual rite of seasonal passage for me. The new season really hasn’t arrived until I’ve made my annual pilgrimage to these ancient mountains to watch the leaf buds break open and the many thousands of wildflowers bloom right before my very eyes. The Smoky Mountains I left behind was a very different place than what welcomed me a dozen days earlier.

During those twelve days, I led two workshop groups (one review of the experience you can read here) and led two private trips as well. During the private trips in particular I really tried to push the proverbial envelope in order to get new and unique images of a place I have photographed…..well, I can say honestly, many hundreds of times. In the process, I got soaked, muddy, frozen, and went tumbling down a 15-foot cliff onto some rocks without breaking any bones. A few bruises, cuts, and scrapes never hurt anyone and besides, I didn’t have my camera gear on me at the time. I had a filter in my hand, which I did not drop nor break, I am proud to report.

For the image above my client and friend, Lance Warley and I stood thigh-deep in the rushing water during a cold rain as each of us took turns shooting the scene while the other held an umbrella to keep the lenses dry. Lance, being the smarter photographer, wore waders while I experienced the full force of the icy water’s stinging wrath (when I said the water was “thigh deep” I might have been on the conservative side of the truth). During the fun and mayhem, one of my wading shoes became wedged between two rocks, dislodged from my foot, and floated downstream.

To help get out of the water, we each unknowingly grabbed a hairy poison ivy vine to help ourselves back up on the bank. After realizing the composition of the useful handhold, we washed our hands thoroughly after finding easier access to the water further downstream. There, miraculously, was my missing wading shoe sitting atop a midstream boulder – as if it was patiently waiting on me to arrive. All in a day’s work.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my Smoky Mountains Online Gallery. Or you might also be interested in attending my Smoky Mountains Autumn Workshop this October. Or you can simply Subscribe to Earth and Light for more entertaining posts like this one.

Posted in Essays, Images | Tagged , ,


  1. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:24 am by Oliver Asis | Permalink

    Great image and story. Hearing such stories adds more depth and meaning to the picture. A little adventure never hurt anyone.

  2. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:36 am by Cathy Hartman | Permalink

    Sorry I missed this one, but looking forward to the Autumn Workshop!

  3. Posted April 23, 2013 at 10:41 am by Nancy Arehart | Permalink

    And I repeat … I have a pair of BRAND NEW, DRY, SMARTWOOL socks you can borrow. So what if they are lavender!?

  4. Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:29 am by Glenn | Permalink

    Great story. This is what it takes to get a great image, cold …thighs…

  5. Posted April 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm by Lance Warley | Permalink

    It was a great trip, Richard. Slip sliding every step of the way. Can’t wait for the next one!

  6. Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm by Jeanie | Permalink

    Actually, I was thinking along the same line as Glenn too, cold thighs and risks of losing shoes:/
    I am wondering if a trip to Cabelas for neoprene waders is in order? 🙂 This photo is worth what you went through, it’s a Wow! Great work and loved reading about your trip.

  7. Posted April 24, 2013 at 9:40 am by Ralph Berglund | Permalink

    Here’s Richard with yet another victim in front of Richard’s favorite rock:

  8. Posted April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm by Jeremy Brasher | Permalink

    Hey that is me in the picture! I nearly busted myself climbing down there!! That was a great time.

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