Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Took a Hike One Day...

Another story-like end of the day drifted toward its conclusion as I watched from the top of Coneflower Hill...one more episode counted among the countless end-of-the-day episodes one can discover on the prairie.  Why I was there finds its roots going back a good number of years, but simply stated, I was there because I took a hike one day.

Cone Flower Hill is not an official name...it's simply what I call this rounded knoll with a rocky outcropping on top that sits a quarter mile or more off the gravel road that meanders through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Oklahoma.  I found it a few years ago almost by accident while looking for a location to observe and photograph those amazing prairie sundowns.  It's not much of a hill really, but rises maybe something less than a hundred feet higher than the surrounding landscape.  Long flanks covered with thick prairie grass, cut by drainage and scarred by bison travel, characterize the climb to the top...a climb more difficult than it might seem at first.


Just north of the summit lies a large pond tucked into the recess of the rolling terrain.  Around it's perimeter grow acres of wildflowers including the Pale Purple Cone Flower...where the hill gets its name.  On the summit of the hill a rocky outcrop exposed to who knows how many years of weathering, provides a break on the smooth lines of the rolling hills.  It's a good place to just sit and feel the prairie wind in your face.


 It is one of the quietest places one can find, quiet in the sense there are few if any man-made noises that influence the atmosphere...just the dancing of the tall grasses and choreographed ballet of the cone flowers as they move in time with the whimsical undulations of the prairie wind. It is a natural musical of natures best assortment of players.


To the west the landscape changes as it breaks its rhythm from the slow rolls to rise abruptly toward mesa like outcroppings.  In all directions one is afforded an unobstructed view of this marvelous landscape broken only by distant indications of man's presence.


Why am I here...why do I return time and again?  I took a hike one day, and discovered a place for the heart that was mine alone...a place where ones inner strength is restored by the reflections of what once was...reflections of times past that remain unchanged.  I took a hike one day and rediscovered who I was.



Keith

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