Hocking Hills - Winter 2018 / by Jeremy Mudd

At the beginning of this month we did a long 4-day weekend in Hocking Hills. It had been 7 months since we were last there in May, and the park was very different in Winter than it was in Spring. It had lightly snowed earlier in the week, and also went thru a few freeze/thaw cycles, so the waterfalls were actually flowing better than they were when we were there in May. We were also treated to a few falls that we had never seen flowing before.

I shot both film and digital while we were there. For longer hikes I carried my D750 digital camera along with two lenses, a tripod, remote release, and various filters and batteries. For short hikes and photo opportunities that were close to parking lots, I shot with my RB67 ProS and Fuji GX617 film cameras.

Our first day in the park was a rather easy day – we didn’t leave the house until mid-morning so we arrived in the Hocking Hills area after lunch. We did some recon and short hikes that day before checking into our cabin. The weather was very overcast, dark, and it was fairly hazy.

Below the “Devil’s Bathtub” - Mamiya RB67 w/250mm lens on HP5+

This shot, taken just below the Devil’s Bathtub, was one of the last images I shot with this particular RB67 ProS body. The 180mm lens jammed while shooting the next set of falls in near the Old Man’s Cave and I couldn’t fix it on the trail. Once back in the cabin I was able to remove the lens by way of the access port just under the logo, and test-fired the camera. It sounded different when cocking it; but I thought it was OK. Only later after developing some film did I find out that it was no longer firing the lens – so I ended up with 2 blank rolls of Ektar film. This was a hard lesson to learn – I SHOULD have been more suspect of it after the jam and checked to make certain it was firing the lens, and I also SHOULD have brought one of my back-up ProS bodies – but neither of those two things happened. I’ve now retired that body to the shelf and am using another ProS body now.  This was a fairly rare occurrence as the RB67’s are fairly robust. But as I was not the original owner, I have no idea of the life it lived before I started using it a few years ago. The only maintenance I had to perform to it was rebuild the light seals in it and my backs. I shot many, many rolls of film thru it so no regrets.

The next morning found us up early and out in the woods for a long hike from Whispering Cave to Cedar Falls and then back.

A few points to make here. 1. Hiking in Hocking Hills in the winter can be very slippery due to ice – be certain to wear good shoes, and also hike with a hiking pole or stick. We were prepared and careful so we had no real issues. 2. Even though the forecast calls for a high of 37 for the day, the woods act like a freezer. It never got above the mid-20’s that day in the woods.

Cedar Falls - Multi-Image Pano Stich - Nikon D750

It was very hazy and overcast so the light was not harsh even at mid-day – this made for some great long exposure waterfall photography.

While at Cedar Falls we were treated to see the smaller “Hidden Falls” near it flowing well. I’ve never seen this fall flowing before, so the cold, slippery hike was worth it.

“Hidden Falls” near Cedar Falls - Nikon D750

On the way back from Cedar Falls we stopped and shot another waterfall that is often dry. The large flat rocks near it made for a great place to stop for lunch and relax.

Small Waterfall on the trail from Whispering Cabe to Cedar Falls - Nikon D750

The next day we were up early again – this time making a stop at Robinson Falls in Bock Hollow. Formerly known as “Corkscrew Falls”, this area requires a permit to access. If you plan on visiting make certain you apply for your permit 2 weeks in advance. Robinson Falls in the Winter had an entirely different look compared to what it looks like in the Spring.

Robinson Falls in Winter - this is a smaller crop of an 8-image digital pano stitch - Nikon D750

This was also a very hazy day, with some of the fog freezing on the trees. I’d like to show you some shots of that on Ektar that I took with my RB67, but you know why you, I, or anyone else won’t be seeing those. I did take some shots with my GX617 at Upper Falls. Yes, the water really was that green. We hiked at Conkle’s Hollow as well but I didn’t take any shots that day there.

Upper Falls - Fuji GX617 w/105mm lens on Ektar 100 film

The last day, we checked out of the cabin and went back to Conkle’s Hollow to hike and get some shots. This morning the light was spectacular and a big departure from what it had been the last few days.

Illuminated Hemlock Sapling - Nikon D750

A bit of magic at the end of the trail in Conkles Hollow - Nikon D750

Renee in Conkle’s Hollow - Nikon D750

After Conkle’s Hollow we stopped at Cantwell’s Cliffs and did the short, strenuous hike there before heading home. As usual we stopped at our favorite little BBQ place, Canal BBQ, in Chillicothe. Yum!

I’ve mentioned this before but want touch on it again – being in much better shape than I was before has really helped with my photography. This trip to Hocking Hills found me 43 pounds lighter than what I was when we were there in May. The long climb out of Whispering Cave nearly put me under in May, while on this trip it seemed like nothing. Being in good physical shape, or even just “better” physical shape, does make it much more enjoyable and easier to focus on being creative and getting good images.

If you saw any images you are interested in - I will be putting most of these up on my sale page. Also feel free to email me if you have any questions about hiking in Hocking Hills.

Thanks for reading, and have a great Christmas Holiday!