June 10, 2014

When I lived in Boone in the late 1990s my friends and I used to go on an adventure that we liked to call the Elk River Expedition. One Saturday we found ourselves driving the curvy mountain roads. We stopped at a small pullout and could hear the Elk River far below. We bushwhacked down to the river and then started making our way upstream.

After about a mile we came to the base of a huge waterfall. Climbing the rocks up past the waterfall we found a second equally awesome waterfall and then a third beyond that. To us, this came to be known as Triple Falls. Over the next year we went on the Elk River Expedition many times. Triple Falls was never the destination, but just part of the awesomeness to be found as we explored the river. The best part was that in all of our explorations we never saw another person (or sign of a person) on the river. It was our own secret paradise.

Last week my buddy, Patrick,┬áinvited me to go photograph a waterfall with him- Compression Falls. He said it’s a pretty popular swimming hole and waterfall area. He said there are two other waterfalls above it as well. Before we went, I looked up Compression Falls on the internet and thought it looked vaguely familiar. After driving some curvy mountain roads, Patrick and I parked at a trailhead and made our way down a rocky, rutted, eroded trail to the Elk River. A couple hundred yards upriver we found ourselves at the base of Compression Falls.

I realized that we were actually at the base of what I’d always known as Triple Falls. It’d been 15 years since I was last here. Back then it didn’t have a name. The falls looked the exact same, but everything surrounding them was different. There was litter everywhere and people too. While Patrick and I were there, we were surrounded by as many as fifteen other people. It made photographing the waterfall a little difficult. Our once secret waterfalls are apparently no longer a secret. They’re still just as beautiful, but now a little more crowded and a little dirtier than they once were. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes sometimes.