Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Havasu Falls, Arizona - 4/27/2014

Standing at the Hualapai Hilltop we are admiring the vast barren canyon as it opens in front of us. Prominent cliffs of Coconino Sandstone are met here with red tones of the slope forming Hermit Shale layer. A feast for the eye. 

 Quick sunscreen application and the adventure can start. Series of switchbacks drop us to the canyon floor. From there the trail takes a gentle, nearly flat grade. It’s a scenic walk during which we have the opportunity to admire from up close and personal the different layers of rock in which the hues of red become more and more prominent as we are getting lower.

About six miles down the trail Hualapai and Cataract Canyons intersect to form Havasu Canyon, home of the most idyllic waterfall settings I had ever seen. But before we even get a glimpse of the waterfalls, we have to pay visit to the tourism office in Supai Village where we settle our fees and receive a green wristband which lets us meander here freely for the next 2 days. There are about 43 households in Supai, which is also the capital of the Havasupai Indian reservation, a lodge, 2 stores and a cafe. They sell fry bread at the cafe which makes it a mandatory stop.

The last couple miles of day 1 are a stroll along a stream. Even though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery of the upper canyon, the presence of the water is refreshing. It brings lush greens and colorful blooms.

Just a short walk from the village we come across the first waterfall. Navajo Falls came to being in 2008 when flood moved massive amount of rock and mud, carving a deep bed for the water to flow through. The creek erupts from vegetation in several different streams and falls into pools below. It is an amazing scene which makes us stop for nearly 30 minutes. The camera clicks frequently during this stp as we try to capture the beauty from any accessible angle.

Havasu Fall has completely different appearance. The vibrant blue water contrasts against the striking red rock of the canyon walls as the waterfall plunges nearly 100 feet into a wide pool. There are many people down by the pool , sunbathing or swimming. It is hot on the sun and a dip in the cool water sounds tempting.

To Havasu Falls we head after the camp is set. I like our camping spot on a soft sandy bank with a background music of nearby creek and frogs living in its shallow water. We even have a large picnic table, a luxury we seldom enjoy while backpacking.

The easily accessible plunge pool bellow Havasu Fall is a popular place. Many people are gathered here even now in late afternoon. The water is said to be around 70 degrees. It fels cool as I make my first step in but it does not take long for my body to adjust. Some people are swimming. With the sun setting behind the rock wall, I don't have a desire to jump to the pool head to toe, wading in the knee deep water further from the waterfall suits me fine. 

After dinner we head to Mooney Falls which is not far downstreat from our campsite. Havasu is said to be the main attraction of the valley but I find Mooney Falls jut as magnificent. Each drop falls with its own clarity, making a vast splash upon the level surface below. The sleek sapphire descent is simple staggering to observe. 

Tomorrow, if we dare to descent on a cliff aided by chains and ladders, we will follow the river flowdeeper into the canyon for more breathtaking scenery.