Autumn Tapestry

The autumn colors are finally here, too, and Shades State Park, about which I can’t possibly have written often enough, offers from it’s Inspiration Point an excellent view across Sugar Creek to the tree covered hills of the other side.

I could have spent hours there, letting the colors soothe mind and soul, like music for the eyes.

Does it ever get boring? The trees don’t think so.

Well, to have some variation, here is a wider view of the scene:

Shades (Frost IX)

DSC 2169

After leaving Pine Hill Nature Preserve I paid Shades State Park itself a brief tour, descending into Devil’s Punchbowl and from there to Silver  Cascades.

DSC 2198

The Punch Bowl and the connecting canyon offered some pretty icicles.

DSC 2205

My favorite was the frozen heron below. That’s what happens when you wait for too long.

DSC 2212

Prospect Point has the best views, both across and down to Sugar Creek.

DSC 2224

It will be another month before this will turn green again, but it feels like it will take a decade.

DSC 2237

Trees in Color (Frost VIII)

The Pine Hills Nature Preserve at Shades State Park is one of the most beautiful places of Indiana, and in deep winter even the blunt access trail acquires a certain charm.

DSC 2023

Trees and rocks in the valley seem to be bending under the snow.

DSC 2050

 Two people had left a few footprints the days before, otherwise the landscape was as pristine as it gets.

DSC 2053

At the backbones I was grateful to see that others had been able to cross…

DSC 2059

From the top the trees reveal their structural beauty.

DSC 2061

Down at the bottom the look up is mind bending.

DSC 2091

The way back follows the creek without further risks.

DSC 2115

And yes, there is color, too.

DSC 2182

Lamentate (North III)

 And I was moved to ask myself just what I could still manage to accomplish in the time left to me.

DSC 5705

Thus Arvo Pärt about his composition Lamentate, a piano concerto of sorts, inspired by Marsyas, the enormous sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

DSC 5707

Pärt’s Lamentate is, as the name suggest, not merely a lament but a call to arms, in order create a counterweight to the state of the world. Marsyas does this in its own way, too, in the form of a musical instrument filling all of space.

DSC 5722

The short canyon in Shades State park that leads from Devil’s Punch Bowl to Silver Cascades Falls is such an oversized instrument in its own right, to be played by walking it.

DSC 5732

The beginning is total silence.

DSC 5741

But, even during the worst drought, there is a trickle of water, feeding the fall with bits of sound and hope.

DSC 5743

Four years ago I attempted a prayer.


DSC 5747

2008 Recap

Yes, that’s right. Let’s begin the year with a recap of not last year, but of 2008, the year 10 years ago.

DSC 1414 2

This year brought photographically two significant changes into my life: My move to full frame digital (and the ability to use a handful of SLR lenses I still had from film days), and the adjustment to the Indiana landscape.

DSC 1363 2

It is not that the Indiana landscape is featureless. It is more a assembly of countless insignificant features that tire the eyes, with occasional exceptions.

DSC 2094 2

Some are less obvious then others, but the only chance finding them is to look.

DSC 2207 2

Sometimes I am being asked why I bother carrying a heavy camera when there is nothing worth to photograph.

DSC 2270 2

Visiting some of the state parks has helped to open the eyes, like McCormicks Creek, Turkey Run, Shades, or Falls of the Ohio. This had been a good year.

DSC 3407 2

The Vortex

Here are some pictures from a recent visit to Shades State Park.

DSC 0578

It was amusing to see little oblivious flowers on a dead, moss covered tree trunk. What is the  spider hoping for?

DSC 0614

More typical are the vortex-like canyons that seem to suck you into whatever future there is.

DSC 0611

Helpful stairways only lead downwards.

DSC 0549

Water is still flowing the wrong way.

DSC 0565

The trees remind that we can sometimes point sideways instead of  up.

DSC 0572

The Loop

Once again I am returning to the fascinating Pine Hills Nature Preserve in Shades State Park, walking the loop trail there.

DSC 5765

I have done this several times, at different seasons, and both the fact that I keep repeating this hike and that it itself is a loop (returning to its beginning) makes be wonder about the purpose of this.

DSC 5769

Return and repeat: Aren’t these early signs of failure? Wouldn’t it be better to give up and move on?
After being exposed to Iceland’s permeating Black, Green, and White last summer, I was surprised to find the same monochromaticity here, in late summer.

DSC 5779

Green is a difficult color, and doesn’t pair well with a single other color I think, but it does exceedingly well in combination with black and white.

DSC 5801

When we return, we are different, and view things differently, and possibly even the completion of a loop teaches us something new. That what makes us repeat is maybe the feeling that there is unfinished business, that the circle has been left open, in the way the ensō brush stroke is often left open.

DSC 5811

So the loop, as a pattern, is nothing but a sophisticated mechanism to move on.

DSC 5857

Pictures are Better than Words

DSC 5652

With Fall around the corner, it is time to revisit a few friends. One of the less traveled trails in Shades State Park is the loop #2 in the eastern part of the park (but still west of Pine Hills Nature Preserve).

DSC 5654

It begins with a steep descend to Sugar Creek (using stairs).

DSC 5663

One can wade through the creek westwards about 100 yards to get a view of Silver Cascades Falls

DSC 5673

and then turn back

DSC 5686 HDR

in order to continue upwards into Pearl Ravine.

DSC 5657

This is again steep and sometimes very wet. After some minor obstacles

DSC 5717

one reaches the Maidenhair Falls.

DSC 5740

They are small but pretty.

DSC 5743

From there, it goes up and out.

DSC 5745

Sugar Creek

DSC 5235

Sugar Creek is a tributary of Wabash River (which continues into the Ohio River and the Mississippi).
It connects Shades State Park with Turkey Run State Park, and is a highlight of both parks.

DSC 2270

At Shades State Park, most trails touch the creek at some point, or at least provide an unobstructed view across onto a vast wooded slope.


There are sights that stun instantly, and others that require some time.


In Turkey Run State Park, (almost) every visitor will cross the suspension bridge and enjoy a view like this:

DSC 2094

Pine Hills Nature Preserve

Shades State Park in Indiana has so many wonderful spots that it is easy to miss the little Nature Preserve at its boundary.
The 15 minute access trail is not really preparing the visitor for what happens at its end: A steep descent leads into the narrow Clift Creek valley, and you are greeted with steep, barren rock faces.


The creek meanders around backbones with promising names like Devil’s Backbone that are at some points less than two meters wide but offer vertical drops of 30 meters and more. Crossing them in winter requires care.


Even from below, these overhanging rock faces are vertiginous.


Usually, the best time to visit Indiana landscapes is during the Fall, but this place is so complex that it is almost made for a reduced color palette.


This ancient sandstone cliff looks tired. Who wouldn’t, after all these years.


These rocks were left for a forgotten purpose, waiting now for time to end.