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By Joseph Dempsey hawcreek

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Point yourself to Clarksville, Arkansas, on I-40. When you get there, find Arkansas Highway 123 North and take it. You'll wind through some fine Ozark Mountains on a twisting, turning road. When you find the occasional place to pull over, do it. Step out of your vehicle and breathe some freshly generated oxygen courtesy of the ba-jillions of trees in whose midst you happen to be. Sweet, ain't it?

After twenty five minutes or so, you will run across a sign that says something about Haw Creek Falls National Campground. Forgive the obvious pun, but that's a good sign. When you get to the entrance and pull in, you'll almost immediately see a "low-water" bridge. If you are not familiar with the term, a low-water bridge is a slab of concrete poured across the bed of a stream to keep you from getting stuck as you cross it. Fear not, under all but the most extreme circumstances it is negotiable by almost all vehicles.

Drive a hundred yards or so to the campground. Stop the vehicle. Roll the windows down. You'll hear what you see in the photo above. Haw Creek Falls.

Once you are underway again, keep an eye peeled to the left. Through the trees, you will see the falls — provided, that is, if the water is high enough. Otherwise you will see varying sizes of a trickle down the channel of Haw Creek.

This image was shot in late April 1995 on the heels of a respectable rain. In most of the spring months the falls are not far off what you see above. The falls are rarely dry, but in the late summer, you may only see a trickle. The campground has a well (hand-pump) and a building for bodily relief.

Haw Creek Falls is a popular attraction for families. You'll see license plates from all over the USA. Families leave their urban environments where houses are stacked like cordwood and come to this more primitive environment, where tents and camper trailers are (once again) in close proximity to one another.

The ameliorating factor is that you and your neighbors have a waterfall in your back yard. Some families stay a while as evidenced by clotheslines and field-expedient pantries on picnic tables. Others make it a good day trip.

It's no mystery why. There is something spiritually cleansing about a waterfall. You don't have to turn it on and you can't turn it off. I've discovered that people standing around watching a waterfall lose their sense of being strangers. Kids, dogs, parents and grandparents wet their collective feet and talk about their experiences. Some of the braver kids jump off the waterfall. This is not necessarily recommended because under the water at the head of the falls are some rocks that are as slick as snot on a glass doorknob.

My imagination runs wild at a waterfall. My memory bank is energized. I strongly suspect that I am not unique in that experience.

N O T E S:  
Nikon F2 / Nikkor f2.8 20mm A1 / Perched high on a tripod with an extension. Forgot my ladder so I had to wedge into a small tree behind the camera to see what I was doing / Fujichrome / Scanned with Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 / Post-processed in Photoshop CS3 and Photomatix HDR

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