I am usually unable to hike on weekdays due to my having to work nights but ever since our last trip to the Upper Wilderness Falls in Feb. 2012, our waterfall crazy friend Dave Aldridge has been wanting us to take him there not only to see them but so he could measure their height as well. The opportunity for this came on Thursday, April 25, 2012. After meeting up with Dave and Bol’Dar at Hairnt Quarters around 9 am, we were at the Longarm Branch trail head and hiking past the Lower Longarm Branch Falls by 10 am. It was a cloudy day to start out but we knew from the forecast that this would soon burn off and become too sunny for any quality waterfall photo`s but I was glad to be out enjoying Nature anyway and besides, I got some fair shots on our last trip here and I am sure we will be coming back here again in the future as it is such an awesome place. The water levels were surprisingly high so we were excited as we passed the lower falls and made our way to the first of many creek crossings. The numerous small falls and cascades found along the Longarm Branch were as beautiful as ever as we made our way up the rocky hill towards our first stop which would be the Upper Longarm Branch Falls.
Ever since the Appalachian Trail was relocated in the Buck Mountain area (between highway 19E and Dennis Cove Road) a few years ago, I have been wanting to hike it but, have just not made it a high priority on ‘the list. I have been on some parts of it when going to the Jones Falls and Splash Dam Falls from Elk River Falls (Big Falls) recently but have yet to walk the whole thing. Although I still have not done that, I did go with my hiking friends Dave and Bol’Darto see the Mountaineer Falls and new shelter located there on April 14, 2012. It was a bright sunny day, not conducive for waterfall photos but was a great day to be in the woods nonetheless. We allowed Dave to be our leader on this day as he had already been there and knew a nice shortcut down to the shelter and waterfalls from the old Walnut Mountain Road where a nice old forest road leads quickly down to the AT not far from the shelter. It did not take long at all before we found ourselves there, where we met a long distance Southbound hiker from New York City. Although the water levels were not at flood stage or anything, they were slightly higher than normal so the small falls located right along the trail there were enjoyable.
For many years I have heard about folks going to Twisting Falls and Compression Falls but when I see their pictures they are all the same waterfall. I will attempt to clear up this confusion now as they are definitely two separate and very different waterfalls. The most popular and more known falls are the Compression Falls and I must assume that a lot of the confusion comes from being incorrectly labeled as Twisting Falls on any maps you will find on this area. (I am told they got their name from a boater who compressed his spine when going over the falls in a canoe) In reality, Twisting Falls is a good quarter mile or more up river above the Compression Falls and are MUCH harder to get to. They are well known to the rafter`s of course and they are NR (not runnable) and they have to ‘portage’ (rafting term for maneuvering boats from one body of water to another or around impassable objects by using ropes, etc) the boats around by rigging up ropes and such to get around the falls so they can continue downstream. Considering the fact that these fearless water rats can plunge their boats straight down such things as the Elk River Falls (Aka:Big Falls located further upstream) and the Compression Falls, goes to show just how wicked the Twisting Falls are. On this trip, we set out to find the best way to get to these falls on foot and capture what pics we could get for your viewing pleasure.