Day 2 of the road trip started off with getting up before sunrise to drive from Coldwater to the Clark County Lake. I’d never been to the Clark County Lake, but the photographs I had seen of it had me really interested in visiting. Dad and I were following a bit of ‘back road’ route to the lake and decided to take a ‘scenic detour’ (we weren’t lost, honest we weren’t!) and while ‘detouring’ we were blessed with one of the most incredible sunrises I’ve ever witnessed. The sun had only a small window between the clouds to shine, but when it came up the entire landscape was bathed in the an incredible shot red light. We stopped at a field of hay bales to get some shots while the light lasted. The pano above was taken just as the sun was coming up above the horizon.
This incredible red glow lasted only maybe 15 min(?) and then was gone as the sun rose into a cloud bank. These photographs don’t do it justice. I’m not sure where we would have been when the sun came up if we hadn’t been on a ‘scenic detour’ but it worked out really well to be near this field of round bales at sunrise. Maybe detours aren’t always a bad thing? Shortly after we finished photographing the sunrise, we found our original route and were able to stop “detouring” and head to the lake.
Driving towards the lake I had no idea what was up ahead. One minute we are looking at the hills around us and then out of nowhere, there is the lake! What a wonderful surprise. I couldn’t believe how beautiful this lake was. Definitely worth the drive over from Coldwater.
Fall colors were just beginning to show up on the trees around the lake. At this point in the day we were shooting later than I would normally. But the skies were overcast and kept the harsh midday light tamed down and really made the colors standout.
After exploring the area near where we drove into the lake, we drove down into the lake and looked around a bit. Then back up to the rim of the lake (a steep drive up!) and we headed over to the area below the dam at the other end of the lake.
The photograph above was taken just before we drove down below the dam. You can get a feel for how rugged this area was. Not the stereotype of the Kansas landscape at all. I love these wide open views.
Down below the dam we found some great fall colors to photograph. The sumac growing in the area was really vivid and made for some great subjects.
After we had finished photographing around the lake we decided to drive down to see Big Basin and St. Jacob’s well. This was another very interesting area. Big Basin is a large sinkhole (roughly a couple of miles in diameter) that resulting from salts and limestone being dissolved hundreds of feet below the area. St. Jacob’s Well is roughly 60 feet deep and has never been known to be dry.
There is a herd of bison kept at Big Basin and the area is “open range” which means you share the roads with the bison. We had to wait for awhile for some of the herd to cross the road in front of us. Gave us some great photo ops.
Unfortunately just as we got to Big Basin it started raining. The rain wasn’t too bad, but enough to prevent any lengthy photography.
The photograph above was made looking down on St. Jacob’s Well (the well is in the area with the trees). However, it was raining too much for me to make the hike down to the well and as I was making this photograph some lightning went off way to close to me. Since I was on a hill with not much else but me in site on the top of the hill, I decided to get the heck out of there. I didn’t really notice the flash of the lightning as I was getting this photograph, but just as I stood up the thunder from the strike went off and made me jump about 10 feet in the air.
After leaving Big Basin we drove into Ashland and passed through some even more unique landscapes. The rain kept us from getting any photographs though. This part of Kansas had some very interesting landscapes that are worth some more exploration. I can’t wait to get back there with my camera. Anyone that wants to see how “unflat” parts of Kansas are should also go through this part of the state. I hope my photographs will tempt you to visit this area!