Pic of the Week 6/26/20
Location: Lake Lawtonka, OK
Date taken: 6/20/20
It sure has been a while since I’ve shared anything on this blog. With everything that has been going on I’ve needed photography now more than ever. But sadly, my traveling and photographic adventures have been lackluster. No camping trips, no astro photography, just the same old routine. At least now I’ve been able to get back to work. Ashlee has been having a tough time in summer school, so needless to say we both needed a photo adventure.Normally, a good long hike in the remote wilderness would be enough to fulfill my hiking desires. Unfortunately, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has not opened some of the more isolated and exciting areas yet. That made me think we could instead take an easy-going scenic drive through the Wichita Mountains area. We left Wichita Falls Saturday afternoon to begin our scenic drive. The fastest way to the WMWR is taking I-44 to exit 49 passing through Medicine Park, this is not my favorite way to access the refuge. I prefer more of the backroads approach.
We started from Wichita Falls and after crossing the river we turned on 36 heading towards Grandfield. We continued north to Chatanooga and this is where we would turn on scenic highway 115. Following this route, the southern face of the Wichita Mountains come into view. The surrounding terrain is typical of southern Oklahoma—flat farmlands. This makes the mountains very visible from dozens of miles away. We drove along the highway reaching the refuge and continued 115. This took us to the infamous town of Meers.From Meers, this is where the drive gets good. Following 115 takes you through the northern side of the Wichita Mountains and the mountains that are not open to the public. The highway makes a series of zig-zagging switchbacks as you circumvent the surrounding mountains. To your south you can see the faces of Mt Sheridan, Mt Tarbone, Poco Mountain, and Mt Lauramac. To your west you can see the tallest peak in the Wichita Mountains Mt Haley, just barely poking up above the surrounding peaks. To the east the Limestone Hills and the Blue Canyon windfarm can bee seen on the horizon.
115 took us to Saddle Mountain a distinguishable mountain in the shape of an old saddle. There is also a settlement nearby named after the unique landmark. This is always a fun drive as the road gets you up close to the mountain. Our road intersected highway 19 and we turned east paralleling the Limestone Hills. We followed 19 for a short while before coming to the Blue Canyon Overlook. This area provided us with an excellent view of the windfarm and the hills.After exploring the overlook, we turned south on Highway 58 drove past a small spring and met up with Chief Stumbling Bear Pass. From the pull off we had an excellent view of the north face of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. If only we had a better sky, it could’ve made for an excellent sunset shot. Now tired and hungry we stopped at Anne’s Country Kitchen to order some take out and decided to shoot what was left of the sunset at Lake Lawtonka.
I’ve shot at Lake Lawtonka a few times before, and each time I’m amazed at the photographic opportunities at the lake. The eastern side of the Wichita Mountains hug up against the western shoreline of the lake and make an excellent backdrop to any photograph. We gathered our gear (and our dinner) and enjoyed a peaceful evening on the lake. Many people were taking advantage of the water and were riding boats on the lake. This sent small waves crashing into the shore and got me excited for some photography.I used a different exposure for this image. Normally, I would go for a silky smooth texture to the water, but this wouldn’t show the waves very well. So I decided to use a faster shutter speed to capture just enough detail in the waves, but long enough to still blur some of the water. This created a dreamy effect and added a nice mood to the image. Sure, I could’ve used a better sky, but I was just happy to be out shooting again. Below I’ve attached a map showing our scenic drive and a few interesting POI’s along the way. I’m looking forward to the next adventure!