I enjoyed one of the most memorable experiences of my life this past week. My entire family backpacked to Havasupai falls for Thanksgiving. If you have never been to Havasupai, add it to your bucket list. I remember the first time I saw a picture of the waterfalls at Havasupai. I believed they were photo shopped. The water was so blue. However, prior travelers assured me the water truly was more spectacular than the pictures. So when I got the opportunity to see for myself. I said Yes!
We began our descent down the steeps switchbacks leading to the floor of the grand canyon. The red rock climbed higher with each step. Upon reaching the wash we stepped lightly on sand and stone admiring the great canyon walls. I started talking to a native boy as I walked down the trail. His name was Trevor. Trevor told me about the different canyons that empty into the canyon that leads to Supai. I loved getting the inside lesson on all the side canyons. He also told me the local folk-lore. Long ago the canyon walls would close up to hide the waterfalls. Two brothers found the falls and wanted to bring their families. They planted giant cotton wood trees and placed large stones to hold the canyon walls open so that their families could come to the falls and stay there. The trees and rocks now hold the canyon open so that the people of Supai can come and go as they please.
Eventually we reached the village of Supai. Many of us take too many things for granted. Local Native American’s such as Trevor and his family live in this village. When you walk through this village you get a distinct 3rd world feel. They still supply the village by horses. There are no cars. There are dogs running around everywhere. It is a dirty and smells a little bit. But the people seem happy. Truly I can say we are blessed to have the opportunities we have. We have education, good clean running water, and not having to run mules and horses all day for supplies and a hundred other things that make life comfortable.
After checking in with the locals we hiked the additional 2 miles to the campground. I never thought I would see the day that my mother would put on a back pack and hike 12 miles into the campground at Havasupai. Yet very sore she stumbled into camp and threw her feet up in a hammock. I set up camp as mom rested and then began to explore. I walked back up to Havasu falls. This glorious waterfall is so picturesque. The incredible aquamarine water falls hundreds of feet into the bluest pool you can imagine. While watching the waterfall the sun set on the canyon and the expansive canopy of stars filled the night sky. The majesty of the falls lit by stark starlight took my breath. Eventually I retired for the evening allowing my body to rest after a very long day.
The next day we walked to Mooney falls. Mooney is the largest waterfall at Havasupai. it towers over 200 feet. To reach the bottom you must descend lowly and carefully down a very steep trail crawl through caves, traverse wet stairs carved into the limestone, and climb down slick ladders. Seeing this waterfall is well worth the adventure. Like a titan it towers over you spewing forth blue-green mist. This little piece of the grand canyon is like a wet tropical oasis. The limestone cliffs feel so much like caves that you cant help but stare and admire their hanging calcite formations. After taking in all the beauty we could we climbed up and out making our way to the upper Navajo falls. These falls though not as high are still incredible beautiful and are well worth a long look.
The next morning we awoke very early. By moonlight we hiked out of the campground and towards the village. Every dog in town escorted us through the village. Barking and howling at each other. We did our best not to wake the locals but due to the yappy dogs that probably didn’t happen. We raced the sun as we headed up the canyon. Eventually the sun caught us and we were grateful for a little warmth. Then came the daunting switchbacks that carried us to the top. Since it was Thanksgiving day we named something we were grateful for at each of the 15 switch backs.
I am grateful I got to enjoy this adventure with my entire family. I am grateful for the health that allowed me to do this big hike and not be sore afterwards. I am grateful for good food instead of just add water meals. I am grateful for comfortable places to sit and a warm roof over my head. I am grateful for running water and luxuries it provides. I am grateful for this wonderful country that I live in and the freedoms it allows me. I am grateful I got to see one of the unique and beautiful places on the planet. I hope you all enjoyed a great Thanksgiving and gave thanks for all the wonderful turkeys that filled our bellies!
Me resting on a dog for fun…