Locals Are the Best!

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Stories & Expeditions | 6 comments

Last Friday, I went out waterfall hunting! Needing some specific photos related to flowing water for a new training video, I headed to Valley Falls State Park. It was about an hour away, but it was the closest place I knew of where I could find a “big” waterfall.

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Well, when I arrived, there was this guy fishing on one of the rocks close to the falls. He happened to be right in the frame I was wanting to set the video up for, so I went over to ask how long he’d be there.

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He said he’d be there for a while but wouldn’t mind if he was in the frame. He said maybe he’d catch a big fish right in the middle of my recording. Smile He was a fun guy.

Turns out, it took me longer to set up than normal and he ended up heading out before I got the camera rolling. But as he was leaving, he stopped to ask if I knew of the “other waterfalls” around. I had no idea there were “other waterfalls” around, so of course I was quite curious.

As a local, I think he was excited to tell me about these two other waterfalls that weren’t on the map. He said “Just go down such-and-such trail, keep left to stay in the valley, and when you get to the train tracks, the stream with the waterfalls will be up on your right.”

It’s always fun to hear about things that are “not on the map”. But you know how it is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s usually a reason why it’s not on the map, right? I tend to be skeptical when folks tell me about something that to them might be amazing, but to me may not quite be considered as such. Well, perhaps my new friend picked up on my skepticism. He pulled out his phone and showed me some videos. “The first one is about 15 feet high, and you can even walk in behind it!”

I suppose seeing is believing sometimes. I decided I’d go check it out. Smile With full sunlight on the park’s main falls and not a cloud on the forecast, I was wondering how I would go about getting some of the other shots I had on my shot-list for the day. I was pretty excited! I told him I’d check it out and handed him a tract before he headed home. God knew I needed a better waterfall!

And a nice waterfall it indeed turned out to be!

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Secret Falls on Glady Creek

Near Valley Falls State Park, West Virginia

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Locals are the best! Sometimes I’ll find myself on a wild goose chase . . . other times, they’re the instigators of some incredible excursions! (And sometimes, I wonder if the success of the venture is actually not completely dependent on my ability to listen to directions Smile ). And though I didn’t have time to check out the second falls further upstream than this one—the one the local said was in the shape of a bowl—I have to say that, this time, it was well worth the hike. God brought just the right person to help me find exactly what I needed.

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And you know, God was gracious in more than just one way that day. . . .

While recording the video, I had two cameras set up. Camera 1 to record the video, Camera 2 to record the audio and to serve as a second video perspective if needed. Well, I checked the battery life of both cameras before starting the recording: Camera 1 was great, Camera 2 I felt would be ok. Well, after recording the entire video once, I didn’t feel like it went very well and decided to record it a second time. The second round was much better, taking closer to 20min instead of 30min. In gratefulness for God’s blessing for how smoothly things had gone, I happily went over to Camera 1 to turn it off. No problem there. Then I went to Camera 2. It was dead. It had completely died. I had forgotten to check the battery before I started the second round! Sad smile Did I really have no audio for that second recording?!

In that moment I had to make a choice. Do I thank God for the good things and the bad things? At home, during devotions, the answer is always, “Of course, yes!” But when I’m in the middle of it, wow, it sure is a little more difficult! Smile I’m so grateful for God’s grace, though. He certainly was pouring it out bountifully in that moment! “Of course, yes, now too.”

“But let me check to see when the audio cut out . . . perhaps it was close enough to the end that I could make it work with a little doctoring up?” And boy was God’s mercy pouring out bountifully that day too! Somehow, the audio lasted all the way up to the end. I couldn’t believe it! Evidently, Camera 2 died in that short period of time I was reviewing and turning off Camera 1. I have no idea how on earth the battery lasted as long as it did. But what I do know is that it’s always worth it to make the right choice of thanking God in all things, no matter what! I Thessalonians 5:18.


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  1. John Machen

    That sounds so fun, James! Those look like some amazing waterfalls.😀

    • James Staddon

      Yeah, you’d be one to be familiar with the locals! 🙂

  2. Dan Cope

    Very nice! A friend of mine took me to “secret falls” for the first time last year but the water flow was almost nonexistent at that time. Your photos inspire me to return! A few weeks ago I was flying into Clarksburg on a return trip from out west. As we circled to land we flew almost directly over valley falls giving me a fascinating perspective of the area!

    • James Staddon

      How fun is that! I almost asked if you wanted to come along, but it was an all day excursion and very little of it was actual photography, so didn’t think it was worth asking. There’ll have to be a next time. 🙂

  3. Jose Barrios

    Beautiful photos you got there, West Virginia is truly a very nice place and those waterfalls are quite stunning. I’m in Florida, and we don’t have much in the way of waterfalls here.

  4. James Staddon

    Yeah, Florida’s highest point is only, what, a couple hundred feet above see level? 🙂 You’ll have to come to WV for some waterfall shooting sometime.


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