One of the crown jewels of Ohio's rich natural resources is the Hocking Hills. This region, which is a short drive southeast of Columbus and is centered in Hocking County, is noted for its steep hemlock-cloaked gorges, impressive sandstone cliffs, and overall stunning scenery. While I've made scores of trips here over the years, I must confess to avoiding the area somewhat in recent years.
Too many people.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad the tens of thousands of folks visit Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls and all of the other iconic Hocking Hills hotspots. By visiting such glorious natural areas, a person would seemingly have to become more interested in nature and conservation, or so it would seem. So, I'm glad my fellow primates flock to these places. But, alas, my fellow primates are also VERY NOISY. And that drives me crazy when I'm in places such as the one we will visit in this blog.
To many Hocking Hills veterans, Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve would be Numero Uno among the region's natural treats. It's only 87 acres, but what an 87 acres! I have been remiss in trying to capture some of the beauty of this place with my camera, but today was the day for an attempt. Most factors were in my favor. One, I was there EARLY, like right after sunrise. Thus, beating the crowds. Two, it was cold and misty and such weather would help keep people away. Three, it was Thanksgiving, and the holiday would also keep many people in their bungalows.
The weather was a double-edged sword. The fumaroles and puffs of mist swirling in the valleys create interest and drama. But my favorite camera for landscape work, the Canon 5DS-R, is a priss. Too much moisture can shut it down, and potentially lead to an expensive fix. I do all I can to protect it, but no matter - if the skies unleashed water by the buckets, and I was a mile or so out on the trail, it would be quite difficult to keep moisture at bay. But, luckily, that didn't happen - the skies spit a bit, and even sprinkled on occasion, but it was manageable.
For this expedition, I brought along Canon's amazing 14mm f/2.8 II ultra wide-angle lens to test out. I rented it from my favorite camera gurus, Midwest Photo Exchange here in Columbus, for a mere $35 for a long weekend. Many of the following images were taken with that lens. Others in the bag and also employed were Canon's 16-35mm f/4, 50mm f/1.4, and 70-200mm f/2.8.