Two Days On the Talimena
Find your way to either one of the small towns of
Talihina, Oklahoma or Mena, Arkansas and take Route 1 along Winding
Stair Mountain and Rich Mountain for some beautiful scenery in the Ouachita Mountains and the
Ouachita National Forest. This is the Talimena Scenic Byway running
some 54 miles between the two towns and spanning the border of the two
states. Along the way are many turn-offs offering splendid views from
your car and
many hiking trails affording opportunities to get into the scenery of the area.
In November of 2013 I spent two days in the
Ouachitas along this beautiful stretch of road. I made the trip to
photograph autumn foliage and the weather reports promised clear skies on
both days. Not surprisingly in Oklahoma, on my first day I drove
myself under a cloudbank and then up the mountains and into the clouds finding
fog, drizzle and rain showers somewhat
dampening my hopes for good light for autumn landscapes.
But, when one door closes, another is opened.
Overcast days, as was my first day in the mountains, can be the perfect time
to get into the woods for some shooting. The indirect light of cloudy
days cuts down the harsh shadows created by sunlight through the forest
canopy. And being in the clouds always affords some
great opportunities for unique shots.
On the second day, I got back up in the mountains
before sunrise and found myself blessed with a
beautiful start of the day and clearing skies. Later on I got the light I was looking for to
shoot wider angle landscape shots.
As it turned out, I got to see the
Ouachitas in literally two very different lights and with a doubling of
photographic opportunities on these two days as can be seen by the two
images below. I shot over 600 frames on these two days along the Byway
and at Robber's Cave State Park on the way back home and have included a
number of my favorites here.
Click either image below to
enter this gallery and I hope you enjoy the images.
More About This Region
Ouachita and Kiamichi Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in North
America and are "fold mountains" much like the Appalachians to the east
created by parallel ridges like a washboard.
These mountains were formed some 300 million years ago when the South
American tectonic plate drifted northward into the North American plate
creating ripples and folds that run east to west rather than north to south
as is the case for most fold mountain ranges in North America today.
At their highest, and along with the Wichita Mountains further west, they rivaled heights of the Rocky Mountains today but
have since eroded down to their current heights and roots of the ancient
mountains. The tallest mountain of the Ouachitas today is
Mount Magazine in west-central Arkansas at 2,753 ft.