the lime kiln trail and south fork stilly

I barely managed to squeeze in a woods walk this morning, on the Lime Kiln trail along the South Fork Stilly, before the next storm arrived. I took my camera but my shooting remains impaired (to the extent it isn’t already naturally impaired due to my lack of talent) while I use my old, undersized ballhead. My regular tripod ballhead is being machined because Oliver Fern, being the super Krypton baby that he is, over-loosened a part on it. Still, it was wonderful to get some fresh air and moss. A lot of moss. Handheld shooting would have been nearly impossible in the dark forest this morning without shooting wide open with high ISO, so I was glad I took the extra pains to bring all of my gear. Without going into detail as to exactly why, the challenge with my old Gitzo ballhead is that I can only utilize it for shooting in a landscape orientation. This has been a severe test of my inabilities as I strongly prefer shooting portrait orientation, it has always felt far more natural and enjoyable to me. I’ve tried to look at my current predicament as way of forcing my brain to temporarily process things differently through my viewfinder. My brain does not like this because it is positively set in its ways and refuses to take different neural pathways- it refuses to ask for directions to the right neural pathway and will think in circles over and over before shutting completely down.

The walk really was lovely, seven miles total. I like the Lime Kiln trail, immensely. The first mile is nothing to write home about as it feels like something out of the Blair Witch Project, but the long path above the river through Robe Canyon is a truly inspiring wintertime walk. Rusty relics line the trail near the lime kiln and the whitewater of the South Fork Stilly thunders deep and low and moss-covered trees over the trail drip last night’s rain on your head. There are so many places on the river I was begging to shoot but the canyon is steep and rugged, it only looks accessible in certain places because of the winternaked devil’s club and the moss-covered forest has a way of softening the hazardous terrain. The enormous orange and brown maple leaves from last fall that decorate the woods floor have a way of hiding holes and steep drops and slippery rocks. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to safely scouting unique vantages in the future, there’s a particular place in the woods that offers a tantalizing vantage of a lacy horsetail falls on the opposite bank. Even if it’s not possible to reach the water’s edge, there’s a nice bench above the river. Getting there may require an onerous battle with thorns that makes the cliffs below seem tame.

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