Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

On Top

I was back out at Burgess Falls today hiking and had in mind this week’s photo challenge. My photo really does not do a 130 foot drop justice. Luckily, there were a couple of tiny people down at the bottom to put it into perspective. My fear of heights is lessening; and this is the closest I think I’ve ever gotten to the edge of the gorge. It was an easy climb both down and back up, as the rocks weren’t nearly as slippery as they were 3 weeks ago.

From The Top

There was a Great Blue Heron at the waterfall today. As I sat waiting patiently to see if he, not sure if it was male or female, but I’ll use the male pronoun for ease of writing, would come closer, I balanced a few stones. Unfortunately, he never came close enough for a good photo, waiting just outside the scope of my camera’s lens.

While I Wait...

 Sandhill Crane

The one above is NOT a great photo; but the best I got. He was very leery of me and waited until I climbed all the way back up to the top before returning not even 20 feet away from where I balanced my stones. I had to laugh because I couldn’t blame him for wanting to be left alone. Heck, that’s why I was out there; but I wouldn’t have minded his company.

Update: I forgot to add this short video clip of Burgess Falls with an interrupting bumblebee.

And Correction Update: It’s not a Sandhill Crane, but a Great Blue Heron. I have no idea how I missed that because I know the difference; but thank you, Mary, for pointing it out to me! I even mis-labeled it on Flickr. In my defense, I have been very tired and distracted lately; so please, forgive my mistake. 🙂


And Finally, Burgess Waterfalls

Burgess Falls - Main Waterfall #2

Burgess Falls – Main Waterfall #2, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

These last 3 photos complete my visit to Burgess Falls on April 1st. I have more photos of this waterfall than any other in my area because I visit it so regularly. I’m obsessive about photographing it. I know this, but I’m also fascinated by the differences in each photo I have taken. These differences are subtle on some days, quite dramatic on others. No two visits have rendered the exact same photo, e.g. June 6, 2010, visit and October 5, 2012, visit. Going back through my photos, I found 9 different visits, most of which have no photos uploaded at this time. At the risk of being redundant, I’m not even sure if I should upload the remaining previous visits. At some point, I would like to have a photo representing each month of the year, perhaps, for a future calendar. It’s a little harder to get out there, though, during the winter months, especially if there’s snow and ice. However, my collection won’t be complete without one or two of those.

 Burgess Falls - Main Waterfall #1

Burgess Falls – Main Waterfall #1, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Obviously, the flow of water depends on the amount of rain we’ve had. I thought maybe there were some larger dams upstream from Burgess Lake that might contribute to the stronger flows; but after looking over Google maps, it appears that Falling Water River flows into Center Hill Lake, not the other way around, lol. Not only do I have no sense of direction, but I think my understanding of potamology is a little off, too.

 Burgess Falls - Middle Waterfall

Burgess Falls – Middle Waterfall, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I hope you guys enjoyed this series of photos over the last week and a half. Please, share your thoughts and suggestions. For me, taking the photos is the easy part, the fun part. Coming up with something to write about them, on the other hand, well, that’s a lot harder for me. Words just aren’t my “thing.” I suppose I could have just simply shared the images, but I think it’s important to constantly challenge myself in this way.

Spring Azure

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #2

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #2, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Blue-Butterfly Day
By Robert Lee Frost

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #1

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) #1, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

More information about the Spring Azure, Celastrina ladon (Cramer, 1780), can be found at: Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Nature’s Reclamation


I’m surprised I’ve never shared any photos from downstream the main falls at Burgess Falls. There’s an old abandoned mill (maybe?). I’m not really sure exactly what it was. According to the park brochure, “By the late 19th century, a gristmill and sawmill were in operation on the river here.” My best guess is that this was part of one of those. It’s a fascinating find. It almost feels haunted as nature reclaims this part of history.


I can’t imagine how these pieces fit together or worked. They’re absolutely HUGE! Beneath the structure, it’s cool and damp. What is it about human nature that makes people want to graffiti places like this? I suppose it’s no different than cave men painting their battles or hand prints on cave walls, marking their territory or to simply say, “Hey, I was here!” At least the graffiti here isn’t as bad as some places I’ve seen. There was just a lot of so and so loves so and so, lol. No doubt, bored teenagers.


I really like the front facing wall. I’ll have to make sure to hike back out there later in the year when everything grows over a little more. I bet it will be beautiful once the vines start growing again and things green up a bit more.


If you’re interested, there’s a few more photos of these “ruins” in my Burgess Falls set on Flickr or you can click on the thumbnails below. Not sure if “ruins” is the appropriate description. I really racked my brain trying to remember the photography/art term for “the act of nature reclaiming man-made structures” and came up blank. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. I know there’s a word for it; but it totally escapes me, now. If anyone else knows the word I’m thinking of, please, feel free to share!


Ladybug View of Burgess Falls

Ladybug View

Ladybug View , a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I can’t get over how blue the sky is in these photos from Tuesday. It was such a beautiful day! I got as close to the waterfall as I could to take this one, at great risk to my camera, I might add. Even though I worried that the dampness might be too much for it to handle, I took the risk; and everything turned out okay. I noticed a couple of ladybugs on the rocks next to me right after snapping the first one. The photo below was the best one I got. It was a little hard to see what I was getting. I loved this one, though. The water droplets give you an idea of the level of mist we endured; but that mist was cool and refreshing after the climb down.

Mist Covered Ladybug

Mist Covered Ladybug, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Burgess Falls 4.1.14

Burgess Falls 4.1.14, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Stone Balancing

April 1, 2014 Stone Balancing

April 1, 2014 Stone Balancing, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

When I saw Michael Grab‘s fantastic skill at stone balancing, my curiosity was piqued. How does he do that?! His work and the balancing skills of others like him inspired me to give it a try. The above photo is my latest attempt, taken yesterday at Burgess Falls. I’m no Michael Grab, but I can understand the allure of practicing such an art form. It’s like a form of meditation. I was surprised at how easily these 7 rocks fit together once I calmed my hands and took a few deep breaths.

In an article I read titled, The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It?, Grab explained:

“The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of ‘tripod’ for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters. Some point balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching. Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain through words. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.”

I had two other attempts at stone balancing that I never got around to sharing, so I thought I would include them here as well. The first is from October 1, 2013. I think that was 5 stones, not counting the one it’s sitting on.

 October 1, 2013 Stone Balancing

October 1, 2013 Stone Balancing, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

And these next two are from February 24, 2014. The first was a measly 3 stones, but an attempt, nonetheless. The second try was a total of 5 small stones. I knew I wasn’t satisfied with the first attempt, so I decided to try again right before I left the park that day. This was closer to the trail’s beginning at the cascades. Both of these were poorly photographed. However, in my defense, it was really cold that day, lol.

February 24, 2014 Stone Balancing #1

February 24, 2014 Stone Balancing #1, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

February 24, 2014 Stone Balancing #2

February 24, 2014 Stone Balancing #2, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I look forward to trying more of these in the future. I’ll agree that it is a meditative process; and it’s certainly soothing to my anxious mind, especially with the heavenly sounds of nature – birds singing, water flowing, grasses rustling – in the background. I’m left wondering, do you knock them down when you’re done? Hmm, I think that would somehow shatter the peacefulness. I chose to leave these as they were, allow nature to take her course. Hopefully, others might find it an inspiration to pause and give it a try, as Michael Grab inspired me to do.

Burgess Falls State Park

It’s been a hectic past couple of months with a move to Cookeville, TN from Nashville.  Cookeville is a pretty little town conveniently located to Knoxville, Nashville, and Chattanooga with a population of 23,923 according to the 2000 census. I’m quite taken by its natural beauty and small-town friendly atmosphere. This past weekend was the first chance my boyfriend and I had to get out and go exploring a bit, so we decided to head out to Burgess Falls State Park located 11.2 miles south of Cookeville. Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities, and I could not have been more pleased with this park’s 1.5 mile (round trip) main hiking trail. This hiking trail parallels the Falling Water River as it drops approximately 250 feet over 4 breathtaking waterfalls.

[Click on the images to view larger.]

The Falling Water River Cascades (20ft)

The Upper Falls (30ft)

The Middle Falls (80ft)

The Lower Falls (136ft)

If anyone is in the Middle Tennessee area and is looking for an awesome day-trip, I would definitely recommend a visit to Burgess Falls State Park to take in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of this river. Note that the trails are considered moderate in difficulty and bikes, horses, etc. are not permitted. For more information visit:

TN State Parks: Burgess Falls State Park

Park Hours of Operation:
8:00 a.m. until 30 minutes before sundown when gates are closed.
Park is closed when the river is high or when there is snow on the roads and/or trails.

Added Friday, June 25, 2010: This is a video I put together of some short clips I took while at the park. Music: The Water Is Wide, by David Modica http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/modica-water/

Added Friday, June 25, 2010:

This is a video I put together of some short clips I took while at the park.

Music: The Water Is Wide, by David Modica