A Winter’s Refreshing At Cathedral Falls

As the evening sun begins to retreat behind the mountains it grants one last gaze into the cove at the foot of Gauley Mountain. The soft light spreads through the forest floor as wood and stone are bathed in the cascade of Cathedral Falls. The oxygen charged air within the natural cathedral enhances the sense of peace as I cross the wooden footbridge. Time itself seems to slow to a halt as the elements of nature coalesce into my frame. It’s been said that God first set the word of His testimony into nature. I believe that is true because as I look at the beauty He created for us to live in his love for us is written on every stone, carved into every tree, bound into every drop of water and energized by every ray of light. With my spirit renewed in this natural sanctuary it’s time to replace the cap on my lens and return to the big blue truck and head home.

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Go Jump Off A Bridge (Bridge Day 2018)

Since before history mankind has dreamed of living flight. Even long before the aircraft Leonardo Da Vinci invented a parachute designed with the idea of base jumping in mind. At this point I’ll need to leave the finer points of that history to the real experts and leap straight into Bridge Day. Celebrated annually in Fayetteville West Virginia Bridge Day marks the crossing of our most challenging natural barrier. Namely, the New River Gorge. Today was the first time I attended Bridge Day in a long time and the first time ever as a photographer. I also want to give a Shout out to Adventures On The Gorge for the courtesy bus ride and free parking. As well as to “Mama Dee” (I’m hoping I got the name right) for being a very entertaining bus driver. I’m also going to keep the writing shortened to brief description tonight and let the photos do most of the talking.

Walking into the event from where the bus dropped us off.

As I look down into the New River Gorge the fog is sticking around a longer than normal today.

The objective is to hit the bullseye and not the tree. ( He made it just fine)

Looking at the event from one of the overlooks.

It’s a long way down!

The wind seemed to carry him along rather quickly but he makes the bullseye.

Back up on the bridge the crowd gathers to watch the jumping.

Second thoughts? Not on your life. He’s just testing the wind.

Catching the catapult in operation was harder than I thought. Even with countdown. Apparently, throwing your friends from the highest single arch bridge in North America is a great way to pass the time.

It’s a bit late for second thoughts now.


These guys are going to do a tandem jump.

I’m not sure what he was saying but it looked like a prayer to me. He stood there for several minutes with his hand stretched out over the river.

This guy was going for the high dive.


This guy did several flips on the way down.

A still from the GIF above.

Another one goes off the high dive.

I decided to pull back from the jumpers and give the rest of the crowd space to get in a few shots. Perhaps the next time I’ll make it down to the Landing Zone and get some shots as they come in. The dark sky and lack of rain gear was my motivation to head home and do my editing.

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Looking Forward to Bridge Day 2018

Rising up from the New River Gorge is in my opinion one of greatest feats of engineering in the modern world. The New River Gorge Bridge. To give the outside world an idea of scale there’s a four lane highway at the top. The height of the bridge allows for base jumping. And in just a few short weeks that’s what will happen here. A crowd will be gathered at the top and tourists will hike across. I have not been able to make it out for Bridge Day for several years now but I’m hoping to get a chance to photograph something special. I was there several years ago when a parachute malfunctioned and the jumper executed a successful cutaway and redeployment of her spare chute close enough to the bottom that she said she could see her own face in the water. ( and the high dive at the swimming pool gives the rest of us the willies). I think that the experience of jumping into the canyon has to be the closest thing to living flight that human could feel. I can imagine the wind pressure on my face as I descend into the river and then touching down gracefully on the flat rocks at bottom. I was able to find a short video of the human catapult launching the jumpers off of the bridge Here. (The video is not mine) The spectacle itself is a full fledged carnival. There are vendors set up offering everything from trinkets to Gourmet Foods. This happens to coincide with the peak color of Fall most years which makes it one of the most beautiful occurrences in my mountains. The competition for a premium spot to shoot from will be pretty fierce and I expect that those who are already connected have a claim staked out. But I’m crossing my fingers.

If you’re a person who likes the outdoors, festivals or extreme sports and if you think that you might want to attend then here’s a official Bridge Day Website. The Event is Saturday, October 20, 2018!

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September 22nd 2018. The First Day Of Fall

As I stepped out of the house today the signs of Fall were everywhere. The Box Elder tree in the yard is really dropping it’s leaves. The air is cooler and less humid than yesterday. Soon the green leaves will turn golden yellow, red and orange. Early Fall is a great time to be outdoors. The oppressive heat of mid to late summer gives way to the cool dry winds from the North. This the time of year that we would start putting up firewood for the winter. The smell of the fresh cut oak mixed with coffee from a thermos during a work break will forever be one of my most cherished memories. I can remember sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck and watching the squirrels play as I ate my lunch. The mottled light pours in from the broken forest canopy and in the distance the sound of footfalls in the dry leaves let’s me know that I’m not alone. I hop off the tailgate and peek through the bushes to see a buck looking back at me. His antlers are still in velvet. His nostrils flare as he tries to catch my scent. I make one move forward and he snorts fiercely then disappears into the shadows of the closest thicket.

Another thing that I look forward to in fall is homemade stew. Often the firewood collected in fall would soon be put to good use just a few short weeks later. We heated the house with a Fisher wood burning stove. A large stock pot and a low flame kept the stew simmering for hours. The smell of cooked tomatoes and carrots and a beef roast filled the house. The stew was always thick and rich. We would come in from the crisp air and the aroma alone was enough to renew my vigor after a hard day’s work.

Fall has so much to look forward to that instead of mourning the loss of Summer I want to welcome Fall with open arms and my favorite denim jacket. I look forward to being able to share with you the bright colors of Fall and some the activities in my mountains as we move ever forward in the river of time.

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The Magic In The Mountains

As the morning sun breaks over the distant ridge I can hear the voices coming from the rushing water in the valley below. The mists slowly rise up the mountain reminding me of something that might be seen in Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. One by one the large rubber rafts come bouncing over the rapids . They’ve traveled from all over the world to experience the thrill of the Gauley River. The Corps Of Engineers and draining the lake for the oncoming winter. I believe that there’s magic in our mountains. All of the fun and joy of summer on Summerville Lake is stored up in the lake itself and released in the fall as whitewater. The fun then moves up paddles and is absorbed into the hands. Eventually this magical essence of fun travels through the heart and comes out as excitement and laughter. The magic is amplified by the canyon walls until it spills over high cliffs and I smile as it touches me. Switching to my long lens I capture a few frames of the rafts passing by and enjoy the last of my coffee. The big blue truck is waiting to take me to the next leg of my journey so I pack my gear and slip behind the wheel. Just before pulling out I roll the window down and allow the magic to fill the cab. Call it “one for the road”.