10.15.17: Haze in the hills

Haze obscures distant hills in Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve in the Hocking Hills, Rockbridge, Ohio. 


Technical information

Sept. 9, 2006,
8:18 a.m.

39°27’16” N,
82°34'29" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 (28mm) 


1/30th second


Many of my photos evoke memories of the moment I captured the scene or activities that led to the photo. My primary memory when seeing this 2006 photo is of the tiring hike that put me in position to get the shot. 

This photo of fog obscuring distant hills in Ohio’s Hocking Hills was taken from a rock ledge overlooking a valley below the rim trail in Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve. It was my first visit to that park and I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

I knew I wanted to walk the rim trail — the trail above the “hollow” (or gorge) in Conkle’s Hollow — in hopes of getting some sort of sunrise photo above the hills and trees. The rim trails at many other parks in the Hocking Hills begin at parking lot level, providing easy access. The gorge trails are down the hill from the parking lots.

I quickly learned that Conkle’s Hollow isn’t like other parks in the region. The parking lot is at the entrance to the gorge. Reaching the rim trail requires a very steep, rocky half-mile trek uphill, making an exhausting hike for someone hauling a backpack with about 30 pounds of photo gear. The trail gets very narrow at points, with a sizable drop into the gorge awaiting any misstep. 

The trail map available online shows four “hikers use caution” areas along the first half of the trail. In my view, the whole trail is one big “hikers use caution” area.

When the rim trail finally leveled I noticed how fog was hanging on the distant hills. I thought it could make an interesting shot but I couldn’t find an unobstructed view. There always seemed to be a tree in the way. So I kept moving on.

That’s when I found a series of flat rock ledges extending above the gorge, providing a perfect spot to put a camera mounted on a tripod. The first ledge had a tree growing from just beneath the left side, blocking part of the view. I moved to a second ledge about 30 yards down the trail. The view was perfect. So I set up and got this shot.

I’ve returned to this spot during late October a couple of times in years since my first visit, hoping to get a colorful sunrise photo of the fall trees on the hills. My “photographer’s luck” has failed me on each of those visits. The leaves have either had just a touch of color or they’ve been well past peak color. But I’ll keep trying.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.