Nature Photographer Tim Ernst Emphasizes Safety After Hiking Accidents Near Hawksbill Crag

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NEWTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) – A 20-year-old is dead and a 15-year-old, injured, after two hiking accidents near Hawksbill Crag.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but is it worth your life?

Tim Ernst, a local nature photographer, says “Quite honestly, I can slip and fall at any time.”

Ernst has been a professional nature photographer for 44 years, defying the odds as he treks through the trails in Newton County to get the perfect shot.

“Waterfalls, sunrises, sunsets–anything that has very dramatic and beautiful light is what I’m really attracted to,” he said.

He’s not the only one attracted to these beautiful sights.

Earlier this month a 20-year-old college student died after witnesses say she was trying to take a photo on Hawksbill Crag and fell.

For Ernst, creating a nationally recognized portfolio doesn’t come without having a strategic plan to navigate potentially dangerous areas.

“I try to minimize the dangers if I should happen to slip and fall,” he said. “I always try to put myself in a position to where if I should happen to fall, there’s something between me and the edge and so I’m basically able to save myself from going over.”

Ernst said he’s led hundreds of hikes out in the Ponca area and said the two most important things are to know your surroundings and just enjoy it.

“Then you can try to figure out how to take a picture safely and with the least amount of risk,” he said.

He encourages people exploring the trails to focus balancing between their right and left foot because it could be the difference between life and death.

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