SLB Photography
Youghiogheny River

Ferncliff Natural Area

The weather report called for severe storms. Possible lightning in the further eastern parts and extremely heavy rain. I watched the weather reports, rain wasn’t expected to come until 8am Saturday morning. It instead came at 3am. The heavy rain crashing against my windows. I woke up excited. Ohiopyle has been a go-to place since I first discovered this gem in November 2013. I’ve been many many times, camped there, hiked there, and explored there. However, there are parts of Ohiopyle that I have not explored. I set out to explore Ferncliff Natural Area. It’s a luscious area created by the Youghiogheny River. The area is home to some very unique flora that the Youghiogheny River has carried into the area from the South. The Yough as the locals call it is a tributary from the Mississippi River. This made the hike very cool. I started at the Ferncliff trail, walked through areas of Pine that turned into a thick, dark Rhododendron canopy. The trail dropped me down to the main section right above the Yough. I found a little side trail that took me down to the banks of the river. There were these huge boulders, typical of the area that I was able to climb on. I wasn’t expecting to see many people out. It was drizzling the entire time but as I was setting up my camera to make a shot I saw a group of three kayakers. They were a little bit downstream on the rocks, they looked like they were planning on how to attack the rapids. The rapids were the Eddy Turns, which I didn’t know until after my hike. These are class III rapids. I probably spent and hour and a half making photographs here. I saw several groups of kayakers here. They all went through gave me wave and went on their way. Except for one group. They would go through the run and circle back and go thorough again. There was a point where one of the kayakers decided to take a rest in the middle of the run. He climbed onto the middle rock and stood straight up. Usually I’d be disappointed as I don’t like to include people in my shots that often, but I decided that it would be cool to show someone able enough to climb to the middle. So I continued making photographs. At this point the sun came out as well. I would wait to take shots in between the sun coming out then being hidden from the clouds. The kayaker was still in the middle of the rock, only sitting there this time. He was a still as could be. I don’t know if he was aware of me making photographs or not, but we did this for a good 30-40 minutes. He was as still as could be, which turned out well for me! Once I was done I packed up my gear and scrambled over the rocks back to the trail. I turned around and watched the kayaker climb down and get back in his kayak. It was fun. I continued to hike on the trail under the railroad bridge and to an overlook, which I’ve never been before. There was a beautiful view of the Yough and the converted railroad bridge. A few other kayakers made their down and caught a view of me setting up my camera again. I got a lot of waves and smiles. It was a fun day and the weather turned out to be fantastic! I cannot wait to explore more of Ferncliff Natural Area and capture the views from the other overlooks!

Eddy Turn, Youghiogheny River
Eddy Turn, Youghiogheny River
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