Pic of the Week 12/16/22
"Boggy Spring Branch Panorama"
Location: McGee Creek Natural Scenic State Recreation Area, OK
Date taken: 11/13/22
Bog Spring Branch PanoramaTranquil pools of water, large boulders, and a full canopy of trees make the McGee Creek State Natural Scenic Area a nature lover's paradise. © Ben Jacobi
This is the final story from our McGree Creek State Park trip we made back in November. Up to this point, all of our activities have taken place in the state park. Now, it was time to go 10 miles up the road to explore the McGee Creek Natural Scenic State Recreation Area. We packed up our gear and had a quick lunch before making our way out of the state park. After leaving the park, we returned to Hwy 3 and looked for S Center Point Rd. The road was tricky to find, but an unassuming brown sign pointed us left and got us on the right path. The road was fairly level and well paved for the first few miles, but as we worked our way deeper into the forest, the pavement turned to gravel and the road began to deteriorate. Deep, wide potholes would jostle our vehicle, causing us to sharply inhale through our teeth. Ashlee’s poor Honda Civic wasn’t designed to handle these rough roads.
Carefully navigating around the potholes, we followed the road for a few more miles. Eventually, we reached the ranger station. This part of the state park is designated as a "Natural Scenic State Recreation Area," and because of that, there is a permit system. The permits don’t cost anything, but they do like to keep track of everybody that comes through the area. Most people use these trails for horseback riding or backpacking, but we would just be day hiking. With over 25 miles of trails, it would be difficult to get a good sense of the place by hiking only a few miles. We got our permit and pulled into the scenic overlook parking lot at the end of the road. From here, visitors can access the remote parts of the scenic recreation area. After gathering our backpacks and camera gear, we set off on our hike. With no specific plan, we decided to play it by ear and stick to a general path. Our hike first took us along the Carnsaw Nature Trail to the "scenic overlook." The scenic overlook sets on top of a rocky outcropping on a ridge, and while there isn’t a vista, it was a nice overlook into the forest and the cliffs of the area.
Next, we traveled northward along the Rocky Point Trail, and we were quickly met with a steep descent down the ridge and to the Bog Spring Branch creek. We dropped 200 feet in elevation before reaching the creek. I had some hopes that there would be flowing water and small waterfalls along the creek, but most of it was just barely trickling. Still, we were in a beautiful scenic area, and there were plenty of compositions to unearth. The terrain narrowed to a shallow canyon with large, spotted boulders lining both sides. It would require us to boulder-hop and scramble to reach places upstream, but we didn’t mind the extra work. While exploring, I found a tranquil pool of emerald-colored water that was littered with fallen oak leaves. The green water and red leaves made for excellent color contrast in the scene. Further back, the late afternoon sun was beaming through the trees, backlighting the gorgeous fall foliage. The leaves almost glowed in the sunlight beneath a stoic blue sky. It looks like I found my color harmony; now I just need an interesting composition
With so much going on in the scene, it can be hard to capture the essence of the area. After all, how would you convey a scene that has so many parts and layers to it? My solution was to create a multi-image panorama. The wider field of view brings all the elements of the image together. The fallen tree limbs, the bulbous boulders, the scattered leaf litter, and the glowing foliage in the background all balance off one another in the composition. The reflection is also a nice addition to the image, adding another layer and dimensionality to the photo. It took nine images to complete this panorama, but the extra work was well worth it. Satisfied with my pano and ready to return, we made the trudge back up the ridge and to our vehicle. Weary from the hike back up, we took a short break before loading the car up and starting off towards home. Our journey to McGee Creek State Park was an exciting and productive one. Not only did we come back with great photos, but we also explored a new part of Oklahoma and had an excellent camping experience. Overall, it was one of the best photo adventures we have been on in a long time.