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Kilgore Falls - Pylesville, MD

Kilgore Falls - Pylesville, MD

As we kick off August there are definitely hot days ahead. This time of year we love chasing waterfalls and finding cool creeks to splash around in. One such waterfall isn't here in Lancaster, but if you're local or near the area it's worth exploring to beat the heat this summer!

This waterfall is just across the border in Pylesville, MD. It's known by multiple names, but you can find it on Google Maps by searching for Kilgore Falls. This is the second largest free-falling waterfall in the state of Maryland, and it is a beautiful sight.  Check out the image below ...

 

To access the Falls you will have to park at the Falling Branch Area of Rock State Park. There is a small 28 spot parking area on Falling Branch Road that fills up quickly, so be sure to get there early as they strictly enforce their no parking policy along the road and in the grass. This is a very popular area, so get there early and avoid weekends and holidays. It actually took us two trips to see the falls. The park grounds are open sunrise to sunset, but the parking lot is open at 8am from March through October, and 10am from November to February.

Once you park the falls trail is approximately a 1/2 mile single track hike to the falls. It is NOT wheelchair or stroller accessible, and large coolers are also discouraged. The trail is narrow, rocky and filled with roots, but it's not a strenuous hike by any means. The kids had no problem keeping up, until the falls tired them out of course.

That's because swimming and wading are permitted at the falls. No lifeguard is on duty and cliff jumping is highly discouraged as people have been seriously injured here before.  You should also note that there are no picnic tables, no restrooms, and no trash cans. Keep it light going in and make sure that you leave nothing behind.

This isn't the tallest waterfall I've ever seen, but it is a gorgeous area. Don't just take my word for it, I had my Insta360 Nano along for this adventure. Checkout what I capture below ... 


360 view on Kuula.co

Below you will find a 360 photo I captured with my Insta360 Nano. Not the best 360 photo I've ever captured, but I good sense of what it's like at the base of the falls.

More of Rock State Park

In the event you can't get into the parking lot, or maybe you're looking for more adventure, the main section of Maryland's Rock State Park is home to the King and Queen Seat Overlook. A really fabulous rock outcrop with a stunning view of the valley 190 feet below. Check out this short video ...

Follow Along and Share With Us ...

Under the Stars

Under the Stars

Growing up here in the Lancaster County countryside I remember being able to see the stars as a kid. No particular night stands out to me, but we've always had a sky full of stars when the clouds cooperate. Now that I'm older I understand that not everyone gets to experience a starlit sky without a considerable amount of effort and planning. 

I always enjoying sharing my photos of the stars. I'm not the best night photographer, but it is a challenge I like to experiment with now and then. With some of the 360 gear and software that came my way this winter I'm very excited to have some fun experimenting as the nights become more tolerable. Long waits for long exposures is a lot of fun, but it's not my favorite thing to do on cold winter nights.

 

Back when I first got my Nikon D5100 I was very excited. Finally, oh finally, I had a camera that would be able to capture the stars. It was actually the first thing I tried to do with it. I had no idea what I needed to do, it was my first time operating a DSLR, and yet ... there they were. All three of them! By some twist of really dumb luck (or some say "natural intuitive ability")* I managed to capture a picture of three blurry stars in the sky. The next night in an attempt to recreate the same stupidity I meticulously returned all of the settings to where they were the night before, and for some reason I couldn't seem to capture a single star. Which kickstarted my efforts to actually learning how to use this fancy new camera.

I only really use the D5100 fro 360s these days. Below is a 360 I captured one night last summer. At the end of the lane the white fence surrounds a one room Amish/Mennonite schoolhouse. To the right of the lane you can see the silos of the neighboring farm silhouetted on the Horizon. My localized and modern take on Starry Night. As a salute to one of my favorite artists of course.

 

VR Brings YOU into the field with me ...

This year I have been spending a lot of time and energy on 360 photos and videos. I've been fascinated with the medium for a few years now. I think it's a very interesting way to  Below are a few recent experiments where the basic idea was to convert 360 photos into 360 videos with the intent to create more depth to the experience. It's about as close as you're going to get to the experience without me actually bringing you along for some stargazing. 

These experiments were both a lot of fun to capture, and I always seem to walk away with more inspiration for next time. For the best experience I would recommend finding a Google Cardboard or other VR headset to watch it on YouTube!! 

Safe Harbor Dam

Safe Harbor Dam

Last week we had a bit of a warm snap and we very excited to get out of the house and explore a little. Once of the places we visited was the safe harbor dam. I had a very particular photo I was after that day. Too soon for details, but we'll just say it had to do with the Conestoga River Inlet to the Susquehanna River. Fun stuff coming up this summer!!

That's where you'll find the Safe Harbor Dam, sitting just above the inlet in Conestoga, PA. The massive gravity dam and hydroelectric power station is one of three concrete gravity dams along the Lower Susquehanna River from the Great Depression-era. It's 75ft tall, and 4,869 feet long, and at the time of our visit the river flow was 66,000 cubic feet per second!

Brookfield Renewables purchased the dam a few years ago, but continue to allow public access for fishing out on the bridge. A sign on the property directs inquiries to pa@brookfieldrenewable.com. Here's a snapshot of their rules:

Safe Harbor Visitor Rules posted on the staircase to the point at the Conestoga River Inlet.


360 Video:

Come take a walk with me on the stoplog bridge! I had my Kodak SP3604ks with me to capture the Public Fishing area in 360! Have a look around:

Flat Video:


Photos:

Safe Harbor Dam viewed from the point where the waters of the Conestoga River join the Susquehanna River.

That massive trestle stretching over the Conestoga River will one day in the next few years connect the Manor Township section of the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail with the southern portion of the trail that stretches all the way to Atglen. As you can see, the point where the Conestoga River meets the Susquehanna is popular for fishing. The shore of the point can be access via a staircase below the visitor parking area.

Skyline Drive 360 - Reading, PA

Skyline Drive 360 - Reading, PA

The first blog post of the year and it isn't even going to be about Lancaster. We rang in the new year with some sick days here at home, so we haven't been getting out much yet. Anxious to get out, but also needing to avoid the cold, we took a little drive up to Reading, Pa so I could capture a 360 video of the infamous Skyline Drive.

Since getting my SP360 setup back in December I've been looking for unique spots for 360 experiments. 360 Video definitely has a bit of a learning  curve, BUT I like to share what I capture as I continue to learn. I've been converting a lot of the videos to tiny planets and such for Instagram. Be sure to follow along over there to see what I'm up to!

 

I find Skyline Drive to be very interesting. We make it up to the area quite a bit throughout the year. In this video I drive down from North to South passing the William Penn Memorial Firetower, a few Overlook pull-offs, and of course the Reading Pagoda. While some of the stonework and other features are in need of repair there is lots to explore and discover, and tons of photo opportunities. Just check out the slideshow below from my Skyline Drive Gallery on http://dochterdigitalmedia.com.

Photo Gallery


Videos

The first video is the 360 driving footage from the north side of Mount Penn. After turning onto Skyline Drive from McKnights Gap Rd I pulled over quickly to turn on the camera. So I began recording at the Northernmost edge of the Park property and filmed until just after passing the Reading Pagoda.


The second video is shorter than the first and flattened. While trimming for Instagram I selected some of the highlight portions of the drive and controlled the perspective using Insta360 Studio.  While I enjoy 360 and using VR headsets three is still much to learn on my end and many advances to come in the technology. I think flattening the 360 footage using Insta360 Studio is a great way to utilize the advantages of 360 video in a format most people use to consume their content (i.e. not looking around frantically with a giant thing strapped to your face). I hope you've been enjoying these short 360 clips. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think.


For more details on what is available to do on Skyline Drive, as well as information about the Reading Pagoda, The William Penn Memorial Firetower, events, and more simply visit http://www.pagodaskyline.org/

360 Roundtop Mountain Resort

360 Roundtop Mountain Resort

Half way through December and the weather hasn't quite been ready to give us snow yet. There was a light dusting on the western edge of Lancaster County last weekend, but nothing more than a few sporadic flurries over my way. It just so happens I know where you snow lovers like myself can find some.  To find it we'll have to hit the road and venture west a little to Roundtop Mountain Resort.

I knew that SkiRoundtop was going to be opening some of the slopes this week for Skiing and Snowboarding, and then Tubing over the weekend. I had seen a few photos of them making snow earlier this week and wanted to take a peek. I really dislike cold weather, but snow is entirely different. Love snow!

To make things a little interesting I got the kids excited by telling them we were going to go find some snow. Zoe, ever vigilant, instantly KNEW that there was no snow "because it didn't snow last night, duh". However, I convinced her that maybe it had snowed somewhere else. Then she tagged a wagger onto it. The deal was that if I couldn't find snow I would have to take her and her brother directly to Chuck E Cheese's for dinner. I had already spoken to the folks at Roundtop Mountain Resort about stopping by, so game-on little lady. 

360 Video


Photos

Here are a few photos I captured while we were there. The snow crews were out in force building up the Terrain park for opening day. Outside of that it was a pretty quiet. The last quiet evening the resort will see for a while. 

If you make your way up to Roundtop Mountain Resort be sure to share your pics and videos on our Facebook Page and tag #GrandLancaster on Instagram!

The west of Roundtop Mountain Resort just after Sunset.

Snow crews working on the Terrain Park the night before opening day. 

Fife and Drum trail just behind the Roundtop map. 

The western edge of Roundtop Mountain Resort reflecting in the pond at the base of the Mountain. 

The eastern edge of Rountop Mountain Resort behind the Snow Tubing parking lot. 

Save it onto your Google Maps:


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