This is it! The third and final day from my first and definitely not last Hocking Hills photography trip.
By this point, my in-the-field workflow had been streamlined. Only carrying a tripod, the camera and 16-35mm, my bag was stowed away in the car most of the day. Boots were replaced with trail runners and the routes I took to get to specific spots became all too familiar.
This last day was the focus on some unplanned locations, such as my morning spent at Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. Later in the day is where I wandered (emphasis) through Hocking State Forest. This section of mature woodland was utterly quiet and awe-inspiring even in the spotty afternoon light.
The tail end of the day and entire trip was a hike towards Whispering Cave followed by Ash Cave, and some miles put in on the Buckeye Trail northwards towards the Cedar Falls trailhead. Read on to hear my thoughts down to the page and overall feelings on this entire experience…
“9/28/2021: I’ve never quite felt peace like this. Truly the closest I’ve been to freedom and everything along with it. The fresh pines and ferns were saturated from last night’s rain. The moisture and all that air conjured up a smell like none other. The quiet stillness in the air as a distant Blue Jay calls out and the trickle of water from Twin Falls off the cliff overhang.
The people here are very friendly and easygoing, whether running an all-terrain vehicle through the state forest or a boy giving me a fist bump when following me up on the shots. People are so accommodating to get out of my compositions even when they aren’t bothering it at all. “It’s hard not to get great images with a stunning backdrop as this one.” As I remarked to a passerby on the trail.
Departing one last time from the top of the state park area at Old Man’s Cave’s busy parking lot. Now I was going to the bottommost portion of Ash Cave. I arrived with just under two hours of daylight at the largest “cave” system in the region (actually just a cliff overhang, but it’s a trend to misname every popular landmark here.)
The trail is like a living, breathing animal and I worry about the future (unless it is here now) when nature is seen as one big amusement park. Everything may be overrun with footsteps and litter.
At first I was apprehensive on my way to Hocking Hills. I now see its’ popularity is well deserved, and the hype is mostly understood. You rocked, Hocking, and thanks for the memories (and photos of course too.)
With this trip now behind me, I am now most looking forward to taking a shower.”
Everything about this trip restored my creative juices and gave me a newfound motivation to travel outside my familiar and local patches.
In such a way, I wouldn’t change a thing with how the entire trip went. All of it needed to happen the way it did, and it left room for more exploration. Another trip is in order to explore more of Hocking State Forest and scenic spots such as Airplane Rock!
As always, I appreciate you reading this blog and sticking through the story and adventure with me. This concludes my 2021 photography trip to Hocking Hills, and I will see you next year.
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