The Big Swings App was guiding us to our destination in the Cherokee National Forest.
Chasing down the last hidden waterfall on our South Eastern road trip, we found ourselves in the Smokey Mountains, soon to arrive at Twisting Falls, in Tennessee. Excitement grew as we got closer; wonder and nervousness pulsed through the group. After seeing the falls in the app we were finally going to experience it ourselves.
Pulling onto a dry, half dirt, half gravel road, we came to the parking location. Exiting the vehicles, we prepped for the hike. Knowing this would be one of the more difficult hikes we would be taking on, the group hydrated and double checked each other’s gear bags. These hikes are dangerous as is, when you add the camera gear we haul, they can become even more sketchy. It’s important to have a great team of people working together that you can trust in these situations. Communication both vocally and visually can save a life.
Feeling secure, we entered the path towards Twisting Falls.
As we made our way down, the trail became more and more sheer; soon we were traveling down a steep rock trench left by past water flows. Every step we dropped further down the near vertical, dried cascade. Exposed rock and root became our stairs; the red dirt kicked up off the dry ground as we passed. We carefully made our way to the bottom, trying to push the thoughts of eventually climbing back up this mountain far from reach. The trench gave way to a path leading up stream towards the falls. We could hear the massive waterfall waiting just out of sight.
Without hesitation the crew flocked to the plunge pool below the falls. While we enjoyed a cool down, we also practiced our safety checks. Even if you reach a location and people are jumping, it doesn’t mean the area is safe. Always swim out the water to be sure; no matter what! Our designated water checker went out in the landing zone with goggles and fins locating all the dangers lying in wait. After verifying the safe places to jump and slide from, we broke out the cameras and put the DJI Inspire in the air.
Strangers and friends alike took their turns sliding down the solid wall of algae and water, plunging into the bubbly pool below. People’s whoops and hollers were almost inaudible as they leapt from the rock face adjacent to the mighty falls. Somewhere between sliding, jumping, and relaxing in my Serac Hammock, I decided this was my favorite location we had visited thus far.
The non-existent amount of pollution was a breath of fresh air. Twisting Falls is a great representation of how all swimming holes should be kept.