Falling for Zion Crossing Park

Autumn at Zion Crossing Park in Montgomery Township offered vibrant foliage and tranquillity.

Zion Crossing Park is one of my favourite places in Montgomery Township. I visit several times yearly, especially in the Spring and Fall. During the global pandemic, Zion Crossing Park became a refuge. Here, I connected with the natural world and escaped the complexities of daily life. It became a place to de-stress and forget my worries.

After photographing the area around the lake at Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserver, I went home, making a mental note to visit Zion Crossing Park. I watched the Formula 1 United States Sprint Race, and then, still tired from the disappointing early morning trip to Cape Mae the day before, I fell asleep. I woke up at 3 PM, just before the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix started. The race ended around 5 PM, and I rushed to Zion Crossing Park. I was concerned that I would not have enough light to create the photograph I had in my head.

I had expected crimson and golden leaves to carpet the ground, creating a vibrant mosaic. However, most of the leaves had washed away down the Rock Brook. The usually gushing waterfall was diminished.

I enjoyed the smell of the crisp autumn air as it filled my lungs. At the pond's edge, I focused on the scene, the vivid colours of the foliage contrasting beautifully with the mostly cloud-free sky reflected in the pond. The gentle rustling of leaves and the flowing water created a soothing symphony, providing a sense of serenity.

I used a Hoya PROND1000 filter for a long exposure capture. Once in Adobe Lightroom, I applied some adjustments to bring out the colours of the leaves. I also did some editing in Luminar Neo.

On November 12, 1990,Tim Berners-Lee, with Robert Cailliau, formalised a proposal for the World Wide Web, outlining the concept of linking information through a "web" of hypertext documents.

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.