Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We've been to the most beautiful place on earth. One of them at least.

We planned it months ago, and it happened! Our little backpacking/camping trip down into Havasupai, wonder of wonders, world of unknown worlds. A snug little oasis tucked into part of the Grand Canyon.

The eight-mile hike in took longer than we expected, plus we arrived later than we hoped, but we all made it down. We loved being in the village of Supai, seeing a world away from worlds (minus the helicopters), and thinking about traditions and lifestyles hundreds of years old.

We stayed three nights. Thursday and Friday we relaxed at Havasu Falls, spent a considerable amount of time hanging out *above* the falls in these little travertine pools. We cliff jumped, waterfall climbed, and swam and sunned. Then (Friday afternoon) the rain came. It was just a little bit, but enough to get us into our tents. We then heard a flash flood was coming! This was a victory, because I had really wanted to see one in action, and we had already had plenty of time with the pristine blue-green waters. We headed up to Supai to be part of the Great Peach Festival, and saw the muddy waters rolling under the bridges. We sprinted back down to Havasu Falls to watch the water and debris roll over. It was spectacular. And the rest of the trip, the waters were brown, very chocolate brown, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-style.

We all loved the village. We watched the Hopi Buffalo Dance, and got to participate in the Havasupai Great Circle Dance, where we circled about and celebrated life and the earth. We talked with one of the elders, the keeper of the stories, who sang and drummed. We were even invited to eat dinner with them. If we go back, we will always want to go during the Peach Festival.

Saturday we walked and climbed down to Mooney Falls. The climb was treacherous, but thrilling. Mooney is huge. We walked further down to a side canyon--Ash Canyon--and played in the perfectly crystalline pools, untouched by the muddied Havasu Creek. It was green and lush up the canyon, a veritable paradise. We made movies and ate and Amy drew; some of us boys climbed through a massive boulder to an alcove that looked down the small canyon.

That night we visited Navajo Falls, the one I'd been quite looking forward to. It didn't fail to captivate and challenge us. We climbed through, in, and over many small waterfalls. There were huge travertine caves and formations in the middle of cottonwoods and ash. We though we were in the rainforest, in the Amazon, South America somewhere, of the South Pacific. Unbelievable and incredible. We played in the pool below the falls and went under small rock "cave" overhangs. It's sad to know that Navajo Falls may forever be changed (as the river above it created a new canyon and diverted the water, drying up Navajo Falls). We'll see when we return! (next year?).

We awoke at 1:30 Sunday morning and packed up and hiked out. We made the hike out in three hours, beating expectations and really pumping us up. We are hikers extraordinaire. We still miss it down there, amongst the perfect water and falls and the Havasupai. We'll be back.

Note: There are a bunch of pictures here, but there are way more where they came from. You can find all of them (with accompanying narratives) on Flickr: Havasu Falls pictures.

the view down into Hualapai Canyon--where our hike began

the group at the top, all ready to go

Papa at the topa

Papa allowed a select few of us to take turns carrying his pack. He was hurting in the heel and needed some help. Here's Amy as one of the superhero packers.

ah the beauty

Amy and one of the many dogs in Supai. This one befriended us temporarily, outside the first little general store.

The LDS chapel in town. It was built in three days.

our first view of the beautiful and dramatic Havasu Falls

Our campsite, first off the trail to the left, on high ground. I did some climbing on that little canyon cliff.

At the very top of Havasu Falls. A 100-foot drop is immediately behind us.

A kiss in the pools at the top. See how clear that water is? You can see the travertine formations terraced up around the top. The main channel that drains water over the falls is just behind me, in the very middle of the photo. That's where the current's the strongest.

cliff jumping into blue pools

the view down from up where I was jumping

Amy and the smaller waterfall up above and behind Havasu Falls

girls (sorry I don't have a really good group picture of everyone up there, so I've only posted a few)

the girls and Papa

peering over

here it is again on the way back down to camp

one of our fabulous crowded dinnertimes

In the tent on Friday while the rains came tumbling down. It felt so nice in there.

Here's looking over the top of Havasu Falls after the floods came. It took some time for all the water down below to become muddied.

On one of the footbridges, watching the water come rolling down. On our way up to Supai.

In town, this little girl came right up to me and said, "Hi." She said, "Where's your picture?" I hadn't taken any yet, I said. But I felt I knew her intentions and said, "Do you want me to take a picture of you dancing?" To which she nodded. So she trotted in a circle, smiling and laughing, and I took a couple pictures. I asked her, "Are you four?" She nodded. "I have a daughter your age. You would like her." I knew this was true. I think she said her name was Jewel, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I think it's a great name so I'll just believe it's so.

This is one of the few clandestine photos of the Friendship Circle Dance. You weren't supposed to take photos, but Papa didn't know that. So here we are, dancing with all the natives and the visiting Hopis and other tribes.

After the dancing, we gave the kids in town some fun. Joey and Emily started it. It started with swinging and spinning around, and escalated into physically intensive horseback rides.

the Wigleeva rocks at twilight, heading back to camp

This foam was all over the footbridges. From the debris and mud and the flash flood.

a changed Havasu Falls at 7 am Saturday morn

the top of Mooney Falls

descending through the caves!

At this point you're practically rappelling. I love Amy's scared-excited face.

and we all made it down this

Mooney Falls

This is Ash Canyon, that little side canyon we explored and loved.

During the moviemaking sequence, where all the girls and Darin were featured.

the view looking out from the alcove at the end of Ash Canyon

boys at the base of Mooney

girls at the base of Mooney

exploring behind Navajo Falls

Here's the travertine stalactites and caves we found. Pictures can't justify it; it was nothing short of amazing.

in the rainforest!

we kept climbing these waterfalls, layer upon layer

water comes in sheets over Navajo Falls


the last of the ferocious meals

here we are, 4 am, dropping Pops off in town so he can take the chopper back to the hilltop

getting close on our frantic hike out--we beat the sun!

buff hilltoppers

and . . . on our way back Amy and I went through Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation. We went through Cameron and over the Little Colorado, then up to Page, the Glen Canyon Dam (above) and Lake Powell. The rest of the way was Highway 89 through utah. That drive was absolutely gorgeous, and we got to do most of it during the day. A suitable end for an epic journey.


heather said...

or should we say, an epic blog of an epic journey??!!!! i love it. thank you mattie for beautifully capturing the ins and outs of our lovely days there. i miss it so much. i love all these pictures and i miss being around you guys! please tell me you are still coming for september 20???!!! i want to talk to you about life love humanity beingness and everything in between. HAVASU RULZ. forever. i mean 4eva. love you guys so much.

Heidi Daniels said...

I praise you both! Jeff would love that kind of adventure! I think you guys need to make the journey out here, and go to the Olympic National Park. It is the only rainforest in the US. ( ) And sad to say, no one makes trips up here to the great northwest, If you do, bring a jacket, with a hood,

Momma said...

Matt thank you for the lovely pictures and commentary about your trip. The pictures are awesome. What an amazing adventure. I can't believe all the different topography around there. I hope after the flooding it won't take too long to regain it's former glory. I'm so glad you all got to go. What an epic journey is right! Can't wait to see you all, love you.

Maria said...

Oh wow! What a fun fun trip! I am so glad you guys got to go!!

Life on Pelican Street said...

Havasu Falls…are you serious?!!…beautiful, didn’t even look real!! Loved loved loved the pics, I had to go through them twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
I love backpacking and that trip with the fam looked crazy fun, Ben and I are going to HAVE to plan something like that!

The Hockmans said...

Way cool. You guys are amazing. I totally would love to do something like that. Amazing Pictures!!

Glory Watts said...

What a beautiful, breathtaking place! It's amazing that places like that exist! I would love to go there and experiance all that some day.

Was your Dad injured Matt? Is that why he had to take a chopper back to the top?

Paul and Rachel said...

I love all those pictures, it is sooo beautiful there. Thanks for sharing that wonderful experience!!