I was in Manchester, Tennessee this week for business and because I don’t sit well in a hotel room watching reruns of Just Shoot Me or Happy Endings, I felt my time was better spent exploring. The photographer in me knew there were some rather interesting Waterfalls in Old Stone Fort State Park, which I thought could use a drone’s perspective to highlight their beauty.
Racing the Setting Sun at Old Stone Fort State Park
But, because I was racing against crepuscular light, I had to act fast and decisively. There would be no time for fretting over where the best launch area was, or for appreciating the speed and manipulability of my Mavic 2 Pro; today the setting sun was my foe and it was having none of it!
I rushed to my car hoping to have all the necessary equipment for flight, then feverishly backed out of my parking spot, only to leave in my wake; the sound of squealing tires as I exited the Hampton Inn parking lot. In my haste, I may have offended the “stuffed suit” who gave me an unappreciative look as I sped off to my destination: Old Stone Fort State Park.
As quickly as I sped out of the Hampton Inn, my arrival in the parking spot at the Old Stone Fort State Park was equally as nimble. I gathered my equipment and headed to find a launch site. However, it was a struggle to find anything suitable for the launch because the entire trail was completely engulfed in a canopy of trees.
The trail to the water’s edge at Old Stone Fort State Park
So, I resolved myself to the only possibility I had of launching my Mavic 2 pro here as if I hiked down to the water. Hiking now was fine because visibility was still good, but after the flight when daylight was less definitive, it could pose a dramatic threat to my general well-being.
So, I asked myself;
Do I put myself in harm’s way for a measly picture? The Worrywart in me said Heck No, but the Drone Photographer-and ultimate winner of the argument, said Heck Yes!
On I went, assuming the surefootedness of a billy goat, I quickly descended the makeshift trail down to the rushing water.
As I navigated over slippery moss-stained rocks in search of a flat area, the worrywart in me again reemerged to subtly remind me of my mortality.
“I get it man, I know I’m pushing my luck here, so lets launch this M-F’er”!
Up She goes,
Out over the rushing water, avoiding tree limbs with precision while ascending scores of feet as each second passed.
Then 200 feet above the swath of Big Falls, ‘Click Happened’! And there she was in all her glory.
A 200-foot view of Big Falls at Old Stone Fort State Park
Magical, I love all waterfalls, but this view was special. The stark contrast between the emerald green water and the drab-leafless trees makes recognizing the path of the river clearly defined. I was in awe.
But, while I was busy admiring the frigid water pouring over the slick rocks and getting lost in the moment, the sun was dipping further and further below the horizon. The fact that I kept having to open my aperture and increase the exposure time with each snap of the shutter should have been the reminder I needed to start heading back.
I knew I needed to hustle to land my Mavic 2 pro and start hiking out of here before it was too late. The thought of the park manager locking the main gate of Old Stone Fort State Park even crossed my mind.
After a safe landing on a mossy rock, I swooped up my drone and headed toward the rock formation that was to be my ladder to exit the river’s edge. If I could quickly scale these rocks without falling, I think I’m home free. Up I went systematically choosing rocks and tree roots to help hoist my body up onto the trail.
Finally, I was home free.
I looked down at the beauty one last time, thinking if I was 10 minutes later, I might have been stuck at the river’s edge.
Whew, that was close!
Once I was safely on the trail, I flipped out my iPhone flashlight to assist my challenged eyesight; I didn’t want to inadvertently run off the trail’s edge as I was hustling back to my car. Back at the parking lot sat my lonely car, eagerly waiting for my return so we could beat the locking of the gate. I threw my gear in the back seat, started the car and headed for the entrance.
The adventure was over, Old Stone Fort State Park was a great host to this curious tourist. As I drove out headlights blazing, I became thankful to be in the driver’s seat rather than scaling those frigid, mossy rocks. The Hampton Inn, complete with its warm chocolate chip cookies, awaited my arrival.