Hiking down the Grand Canyon..an experience to remember and redo

The Grand Canyon, I just found out, is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. To me, in addition, it’s one of the 58 national parks of  America that I have promised to visit over the next few years or as long as I live in the US. Grand Canyon is also home to the Havasu Falls, whose picture I had seen a few years ago on the back of a sports magazine and had instantly fallen in love with. It was a place I had been wanting to visit for a while.

My dream finally came true this spring when I signed up for and went there as part of a 3 day hike with the wildland trekking company. For anyone looking to do a moderate to semi-difficult hike, I really recommend this group.

Since a lot of people have asked, let me start by giving a very brief overview of the location and description of the falls. The falls are located within the canyon in and around the village of Supai. The village itself is part of the Havasupai Reservation and is located in one of the more remote areas of the western Grand Canyon. The Village of Supai, and therefore the waterfalls are accessible only by foot, horse/mule back, or helicopter.

Although referred to as Havasu falls, this is only one of five falls, the other four being Beaver, Mooney, New Navajo and Rock falls. It is the most popular of them. Two of the falls come on the way to the village. Once you get to the village, this 120 feet high falls is quite accessible..both from the village and the campground and is therefore a favorite spot for picnics and photo shoots. Mooney falls is 190 feet high and the pool below it is the most popular swimming hole in the Canyon. However, there is a steep and slightly dangerous trail that leads from the top of the falls to the pool below. I am not sure how I made it down but the only thought once I was down was, “How am I getting back up!!” And of course without going down to Mooney, you can’t access the 4 mile hike to the spectacular Beaver Falls.

Personally I realized that going down the cliff was a little too adventurous for me but I am so glad I did it because it really gave me a sense of achievement to push myself and see how far I can go physically. I realized, we all underestimate ourselves..so next time you get a chance to do something slightly crazy (with supervision), go for it.

Any piece on Havasu falls has to mention the beautiful turquoise color, that’s what drew me there in the first place. The unique color of the water is caused by  high amounts of calcium carbonate and magnesium that occur naturally in the waters of Havasu Creek. The blue color comes from the magnesium in the water. As the calcium carbonate is slowly released from the water, the relative magnesium content increases increasing the blueness of the water.

I enjoyed the trip not only because of the scenery but also because it gave an opportunity to really come closer to nature. We slept under the skies (such a pretty view of ink black sky covered with stars), we had no access to ANY gadgets whatsoever-that included flush toilets, tap water and bulbs. Only electronic welcome on the trip was our cameras. We used compost toilets, creek water, headlamps and that’s about it. It led to many interesting and fun conversations and a lot richer and memorable experience.

I would like to end this piece by sharing a memory from our hike back up the canyon. I found it very challenging climbing up 2500 ft in one day. There were three pretty steep areas but I (and a lot of other people on the hike) were amazed to see our young and lanky guide not only traverse the distance and steepness with relative ease, but along the way he did what he always does on these hikes…collect other people’s garbage to recycle later on. He said that it was his way of giving back to nature and to the beautiful path we were walking along and getting so much spiritual and physical benefit from. In the end he had collected three large bags full of garbage of 30 pounds extra weight up with him. All of us hiking with him were proud to be part of his hike and he inspired so many passerby both hiking up and down the canyon. I know most of us enjoy the blue sky, the sun, the greenery around us so shouldn’t we also make sure we don’t spoil it? I felt that was a perfect ending to our hike. In conclusion, I hope this piece inspires you to go on some adventure of your own that you have always wanted to. Good luck!

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