As a last minute plan was developed at 4 pm on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, to pick up John Forbes at his house to join Michael Taylor, Colby Williams, and myself for a quick spur of the moment trip to Round Bald on Roan Mountain, we hastily drove as fast as we could to get this accomplished. We had heard through the hiker trash grapevine that the legendary Roan Mountain man Larry Jarret himself would be there so, we made haste to get there before the sun set. Luckily we had enough time to spare to get parked and make the trek up to the summit of the bald and get setup before the show began. We were lucky in the fact that the clouds had broken off the mountain and were setting up nicely for what we hoped would be a spectacular sunset.
Despite many maps and most of the information found on the internet, these are two very separate waterfalls about a quarter mile or so apart on the Elk River. Twisting Falls is located above Compression Falls and is NR (Not Runnable) for kayaks whereas many have taken their boats over other falls on this river such as Elk Falls and Compression Falls which is actually how Compression Falls got their name when one such boater compressed his spine in doing so. The rafters portage around Twisting Falls across a very narrow ledge using ropes to lower the boats down to their base where they continue down river to Compression Falls. Both are popular swimming holes and each have their own degrees of danger. Ever since my last trip to Twisting Falls when I discovered a very obscure ninja goat trail to a cliff just below them where a good view of the entire falls was possible, I have wanted to come back and go down what I named ‘the chasm’ in order to reach the base of the falls to get a picture from water level. Having only seen one picture from that angle ever that I found on the internet, I knew this would be a difficult task and would require a rope but, it has been on my list and caused me several sleepless nights ever since that trip. Finally that dream has came true.
It is not often that one can see five waterfalls in one day but, with proper planning and the right locations it is possible to see five or even twenty five for that matter. It was my pleasure to join fellow waterfall lovers Michael Taylor and Ken Woody on this adventure that would lead us to see these beautiful falls all located close to the place we call home. I was picked up at Hairnt Quarters around 9:30 am and before 10 am we were at the first falls of the day, Millstone Falls. These are located on private property not far from my house and are a lovely falls close to the road beside Nolichucky River.
A short, mid week hike with my friend Ken Woody to an area where one would not expect to see many creeks and waterfalls at was had this past week. Ken who lives in the Kingsport area has been visiting these locations for a while now and since we only had a few hours to spare it was decided that he would show some of them to me. The first stop would be an obscure part of Warriors Path State Park on a little known creek that flows into the opposite side of the South Fork of the Holston River. Although unnamed on any maps, the signs say it is called Fall Creek and the trail is the D. Backbone trail (Devils Backbone) It was only a mile or so round trip on the section of the trail we chose (D. Backbone) but, the trail was very nice with multiple cascades and small falls along with a side trip to an abandoned old house that looks to date back well over 100 years. There is also remains of an old blast furnace (or grist mill ?) which is most likely over 200 years old. It was an intensely bright sunny day so I did not even get my big camera out on this first leg of the journey.
Happy New Year ! My first hike of the brand new year would be to a triple set of waterfalls discovered by my hiking friend Tommy (Bol’Dar) Warden. We had the pleasure of documenting these falls and naming them to be listed on the TN Landforms Waterfalls website a few years ago. They are phenomenal falls with the middle set being some 150 feet tall. I would be accompanied on this trip with fellow waterfall enthusiasts Kenneth Woody and John Forbes. They picked me up at Hairnt-quarters around 10am and we were at the Longarm Branch trail head by 10:45 after a quick stop at the ‘Hitchin` Post’ so John could get his breakfast grub on.
On this adventure my friend Dave Aldridge and I would be attempting to see the Upper Dismal Falls and as many others as we could in the process. After a sausage biscuit from Clarence`s in Unicoi and the long drive down, we would begin this journey not at the traditional parking area as seen on the map but, instead we got permission to park at the nearby outdoor therapeutical camp for boys (formerly called Camp Winding Gap but, is now called Trails Carolina) where there is a little known shortcut trail that leads into the main trail. It was a beautiful day for hiking but, too sunny for taking pictures which seems to be the norm for me. Only minutes from the car we found ourselves at the side trail to Aunt Sally Falls (or so we thought) which we decided to skip on the way in as we had bigger fish to fry and a limited amount of daylight to accomplish it in.
On a chilly yet very sunny Thursday in mid December I joined an extraordinary group of hikers to explore the Little Stony Creek Gorge in Southwest Virginia. We would start this quest from the lower end at the Hanging Rock Picnic Area with hopes of making it all the way to the upper Little Stony Falls and back. In between we would take a lot of time to explore as much as we possibly could including unnamed waterfalls found by bushwhacking up some side streams. In this elite group would be myself, Jason Horton, John Forbes, and the Honey Badger himself, Thomas Mabry who would travel all the way from Waynesville, NC to join us. Parking at the picnic area we began our journey going upstream into the gorge where our first stop would be a rather large rocky area where some old coal mines are located. Their openings have been blocked by welded steel structures to prevent human entrance and to also protect the endangered brown bat populations.
For as long as I can remember I have seen the bare spots on one particular slope on the Tennessee side of Unaka Mountain. These are most prominent when there is a dusting of snow on them which allows the areas to stand out from the rest of the terrain there. It has only been in recent years that I have looked more closely at these areas and realized that they consist of broken rock that form enormous football field sized boulder gardens that lie on the steep slopes. Having looked at these rock piles from various locations as well as looking down on the upper one from the road that runs across the top, I never really gave much thought to several things like how large they really were, what they were made of, what made them and just how steep it actually is. About a year or so ago a hiking friend of mine asked about them and it made me realize that although I knew they were there, that I really did not know that much about them. That person became very interested in them and vowed to go there and stand on them as soon as possible. Since this had tweaked my own interest in them, I advised as to where they were exactly and what routes one would have to take to get to them, whether it be from bottom or top, and vowed that I would be there before them ! On Dec. 3, 2014 I made that a true statement.
Since discovering the wonders of the Panthertown Valley in North Carolina, it has became a quest to see all of the many waterfalls there. On this trip I would be going with Dave Aldridge and would be accompanied by my good friends Tommy (Bol’Dar) Warden and Derrick Hamrick. Our plan was to start at the Cold Mountain Gap Trail head and attempt to see at least 6 major waterfalls including Carlton`s Falls, Halfway Falls, Greenland Creek Falls, Mac`s Falls, Pothole Falls and if we had time, Schoolhouse Falls. Not leaving before 8am burns a lot of daylight as it is nearly a 3 hour drive one way to get there and with the short light of the Falls season, I knew we would end up walking out in the dark ! We were on the Mac`s Gap Trail around 11 am which leads down to Greenland Creek and Trail that we would follow upstream to Greenland Creek Falls. The sun was already on the top of them so as usual I would not be getting any quality pics but, luckily we had Derrick with us so I knew he would be getting some keepers.
After my last trip to the newly discovered falls of upper upper dick creek on 11-8-2014 where we fell considerably short of reaching the uppermost falls at the head of the valley, I was determined to come back and get to those elusive falls. After consulting with my friend Larry Jarret who was the one who discovered the four new falls that reside above the known Upper Dick Creek Falls earlier this year, it was agreed that due to the distance and extremely rugged terrain, that it would be best to do this trek from top down going one way. Another factor would be the decreased amount of daylight hours since it now gets dark by 5:30pm. Even during Summer where the days are long, I would not advise going there due to the large number of venomous snakes that thrive in this area that is not visited by humans ever. It was a cold day with temps right at freezing all day so there would be no danger of seeing any reptiles on this adventure. We began our quest by dropping a vehicle near where Dick Creek empties into the North Indian Creek near Limestone Cove and proceeding to take a second vehicle to near the top of Unaka Mountain (Photo by Bol’Dar) stopping only to pick up Bol’Dar at the Rocky Branch trail head parking lot.