Zion Crossing Park's Hidden Gem

Zion Crossing Park is a lovely little park at the end of Hollow Road in Montgomery Township.

On April 30th, I decided to resign from my position at the bank. Why? Two years ago, I joined the bank as a consultant focusing on enhancing the security architecture of their internal and cloud-based applications. It didn't take long for my leadership qualities to catch the attention of the director, and I was soon promoted to a team lead role. It was an exciting opportunity for me but also a new challenge.

Managing a geographically dispersed team across Texas, Florida, Alabama, Arizona, and Mexico was a first for me. Not only did I have to oversee the team, but I also had to juggle the expectations of internal stakeholders. While I enjoyed working with my team and had a supportive boss, I gradually started feeling disillusioned with my role. Most of my technical responsibilities were delegated to others, and my days became filled with back-to-back meetings. I spent around thirty hours a week in meetings, often munching on my lunch at my desk.

In the spring, I was offered an Associate Director position to formalise my existing responsibilities and transition into a full-time employee. At first, I was thrilled about the promotion. However, as I contemplated the travel, my excitement waned.

The new role required me to report to the office in person, meaning I would have to commute to New York City twice a week on a hybrid schedule. I experienced this commute between 2018 and 2019, and I knew I didn't want to subject myself to it again. The whole commuting experience is incredibly stressful.

In the end, I made the tough decision to decline the offer. I realised I needed a change to a less hectic work schedule. It wasn't an easy choice, but deep down, I felt it was right for me. So, starting from Monday, May 1st, I technically became unemployed.

I look forward to exploring new opportunities that align with my aspirations and provide a better work-life balance. It's an anxious and uncertain phase, but I'm optimistic about the future.

Zion Crossing Park Waterfall · Monday 1 May 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 17 sec, ISO 160 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR at f/8.0

It was raining that morning, but the weather cleared by 10 AM, and the sun shone. I grabbed my camera gear, including my X-T3, XF27mmF2.8 R WR, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR, MCEX-16 macro extension tube, URTH ND64, and Peak Design 6L sling, and headed out to Zion Crossing Park. I planned to take photos of the waterfall and wildflowers and hike in Sourland Mountain Preserve if I had time.

Hollow Road is a scenic route from east to west and passes through wooded areas, farmland, and historic sites. It's popular with bikers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts who enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Zion Crossing Park is a lovely little park at the end of Hollow Road in Montgomery Township. The park is situated on a plot of land once occupied by two homes, which have since been demolished. The forest grew back once the houses were taken down, and the land was left vacant. The Montgomery Friends of Open Space contributed a grant of approximately $100k from Green Acres toward the purchase of this parcel and created a park.

The park has a picnic table, bench, parking area, and an interpretive sign to help visitors learn more about the area. The property is a crucial connection to preserved lands in Hillsborough. There are plans to construct a pathway through the property that could someday become a link in a trail along Rock Brook, extending from the northern township boundary with Hillsborough Township down south and east toward Skillman Park. This exemplifies how organisations can work together to preserve and protect natural resources.

Rock Brook, a tributary of the Millstone River, runs alongside Hollow Road and is around 7.4 miles long. It starts in the Sourland Mountain range and flows through several parks and natural areas, including Montgomery Park, Skillman Park, and Zion Crossing Park. Long ago, Rock Brook was used for water power, and you can still see the remains of a dam in the stream as a picturesque little waterfall. Aside from its recreational value, Rock Brook is an essential part of the ecosystem in Montgomery Township. It provides a habitat for various plant species and helps regulate water flow and quality in the area.

Zion Crossing Park is one of my favourite places in the township. It was my go-to spot for peace during the COVID pandemic and when I struggled with my health in 2018 and 2019. The sound of the water rushing over the rocks drowned out the negative thoughts in my head, and I found it to be a calming place. After several days of rain, Rock Brook had a lot of water, which made for some great photos.

I used my URTH ND64 filter on my XF27mmF2.8 R WR to capture the motion blur in the water. The filter provides six light-reduction stops, allowing me to get shutter speeds between 12 to 1 second. I edited the photos in Adobe Lightroom and used Luminar Neo for cropping recommendations.

One of my entries for Lens-Artists.

Trinity Falls Waterfall

With its many waterfalls, rivers, lush tropical rainforest and mountains to explore, mainland St. Vincent is astonishingly beautiful.

In 1998, after my brother's wedding ceremonies in Antigua, Bhavna and I took a three-day excursion to St. Vincent & The Grenadines. We stayed with Dad at the The Bank House and I promised Bhavna that we would do something special after visiting my grandmother in Bequia.

With its many waterfalls, rivers, lush tropical rainforest and mountains to explore, mainland St. Vincent (the big island) is astonishingly beautiful. When it’s not actively spewing ash and hot lava, one can hike to the top of the La Soufrière volcano1. Of course, I had to show Bhavna the beauty of the land of my birth.

The Wallilabou River is a river northwest of Saint Vincent. It rises in the Morne Garou Mountains between Richmond Peak and Mount Brisbane, flowing west to reach the Caribbean Sea north of Chateaubelair. Trinity Falls is near the Wallilabou River in the town of Wallilabou in the parish of St. David on the Leeward side of the island. Mom’s cousin ran an eco-tourism company. She made a few calls, and soon Bhavna and I were booked for a one-day nature hike to Trinity Falls.

Trinity Falls, Wallibou
Trinity Falls, Wallibou | Saturday 8 August 1998

Our nature guide picked us up at the The Bank House in a tiny Suzuki minivan popular on the island in the 1990s. He warned us that the hike to the falls would be long and strenuous and that we wouldn’t be able to carry much in the way of food and drink except for the curry potato roti wraps and bottled water he packed for our lunch.

The drive to Trinity Falls took longer than I had anticipated, almost two hours. The roads are narrow, mostly unpaved, with treacherous drops into the valley. Our driver drove slowly, hugging the Leeward Highway, which at times was only as wide as two cars with maybe half an inch between them when side by side. We passed through Layou, Barrouallie and finally Wallilabou. We hiked from the trailhead through the damp forest, working up a sweat on our way to the falls.

Trinity Falls, Wallibou
Trinity Falls, Wallibou | Saturday 8 August 1998

It was a long, hot walk, and a dip in the cold river water was something Bhavna, and I looked forward to! The beauty that unfolded in front of us was terrific; three powerful waterfalls tumbled into a wide river basin and then flowed into another basin below. The water was cold, but rock slabs warmed us as we basked in the sun. I could feel the strong pull of the water. We nestled in between the rocks and had a blast.

Due partly to landslides and floodwaters that have washed away rainforest and bushes above the falls, the conditions at the waterfall are hazardous. Trinity Falls has been declared a danger zone and is closed to visitors.

I think it’s interesting how memory works. When I saw this week’s Len’s Artists Photo Challenge topic, Three of a Kind, I struggled with what I would do. Should I go out looking for subject matter? Should I pull something from the Adobe Lightroom catalogue? I launched Adobe Lightroom, and I was presented with a scanned photograph of my Acura Integra that I had edited a few days earlier. While looking at the photo, I noticed that it had a date of August 1998, but it was stored in the 1996 folder. I moved the photo to the August 1998 folder and immediately saw some photographs from my brother’s wedding taken that same month. While looking at the pictures from the wedding, I saw the photos of the waterfall. I did not remember which waterfall I had photographed, so off to Google, I went. It wasn’t until after I realised that they were of Trinity Falls that I had my response to the challenge.

Was this serendipity, or did my mind lead me to this?

Apologies for the quality of these photographs. When we took this vacation, APS film was being pushed by Kodak as the future of film photography. I was ignorant and bought into the hype. I purchased an APS film camera and several rolls of APS film, which was the worst camera to bring on a vacation. The quality of APS film was inferior to the 35mm film format it was intended to replace. 35mm film is still made and sold, but APS (along with Kodak) was relegated to the dustbin of history.

  1. When I was in high school, my Uncle Clifford took me, my brothers and some cousins to hike to the top of the La Soufrière volcano. Uncle Clifford was the Chief Surveyor for the government of St. Vincentian. He knew all the cool places to visit and how to get to them. 

Hiking Buttermilk Falls in Washington Valley Park

It rained Friday evening, and all of Saturday and many of the local roads and bridges were underwater. I was bored and feeling anxious about being cooped up inside the house all weekend. Sunday after the cloud parted and the sun radiation some rays of warmth. When Bhavna woke up, I suggested we make the best of the day and go out for a hike. She expected that the trails would be muddy and reluctantly agreed to come with me if I first took her car to the car wash.

I learned about Buttermilk Falls from a link shared by NJ Spots. Located in Washington Valley Park, The “falls” are humanmade with the overflow from a damn pouring onto the rocks below. I did not know this before we set off on our adventure. Buttermilk Falls must be a popular name for waterfalls in the USA. I have visited Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, New York, Buttermilk Falls in the Delaware Water Gap near Stokes State Forest, New Jersey .

We had some challenges finding the proper path to the waterfall. The information provided by NJ Spots is incomplete, with no information on where to park or which trail would help us approach the falls from the right direction. I parked in Chimney Rock Park near the football field, and Bhavna and I scrolled through Google Maps looking for an access point to the falls. We saw a few trails on the map and noticed a marked parking spot on Gilbride Road. A few minutes later, we were parked and took the first trail we found, which after a few minutes of slipping and sliding in the mud, we realized was the wrong trail. Back out to Gilbride Road, and we found a new trailhead. We knew we were on the right path since we met and asked a couple of hikers who were exiting the trail.

We used Google Maps to navigate the path. This was the first time using Google Maps in this way. Google Maps told us to follow the yellow marked trail, calling which way to go when we met a fork in the trail.

The trail was filled with small and large rounds, surrounded on both sides by a steep terrain. The lower terrain followed a rocky and soggy embankment down to the water.

I saw many felled trees, large and small, many of which looked like they had perished in a forest fire.

There were large green hues boulders above and below the trail some of which were still covered in snow.

As we approached the f,alls we met other people on the trail path who were hiking in the same direction. I was disappointed when I get to the waterfall.

First, the waterfall is man made and I found the fencing around the dammed area distracting. Second, there was no safe way to get a good angle for a photographically please point of view of the waterfall. I was also concerned about the number of people walking past me, jostling to stand above the water. Third, I had only my iPhone 11 Pro, which, though a good camera, I t,hink lacks the image quality I thing is necessary to capture the scene.

Bhavna and I moved further up the trail and found a less crowded area among the large boulders and trees to get a better view of the falls.

I wish I had my tripod with me. It was challenging to get long exposure shots while trying to steady the iPhone agains rocks and twigs.

The best part of the hike was the hike back to the car. Bhavna and I got to chat about our plans for adventures after the kids are back to college for the winter/spring semester.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2 | f/2.0
I think there was a fire here some time ago. | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
The Great Ice Melt | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
I love this patterned piece of wood. | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2 | f/2.0
Buttermilk Falls, Washington Valley Park, East Branch, Somerset County | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 1.54mm f/2.4 | f/2.4
Buttermilk Falls, Washington Valley Park, East Branch, Somerset County | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2 | f/2.0
Bhavna and me | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro front camera 2.71mm f/2.2 | f/2.2