Happiness Moments: Havasu Falls
So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.
The picture above is a completely unenhanced photo of Havasu Falls in Arizona. From the first moment I saw an image of the falls I knew I had to go there. The falls exist on tribal land just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park. To camp in the valley at the falls you have to get a permit and the permits open February 1st and often over 75% of the dates for the entire year sell out within the first few days that reservations are open. The year I went, I was planning to go early April, it still can be pretty cold at night in April so it’s not the most popular time. I dialed into the reservation line like I was trying to win a radio contest for three days before I got lucky and got through. Happily I was able to get my dates.
I spent the night in a hotel in the most middle of nowhere Arizona that I have ever been. It was a surprisingly nice small hotel that primarily serves as a weigh station for Havasu and Grand Canyon tourists. I got up pre-dawn and drove up to the parking area for Havasu. At dawn the little “ranger” station opened and I showed my pass and hit the trail. The hike into Havasu is a nice hike, about seven miles and downhill all of the way. You start on a super steep decline down into the valley with spectacular views. You then snake down into the valley and wind down a trail that you can tell would be a nightmare during a flash flood and as soon as the sun gets up in the sky it starts to heat up.
Happily starting early meant the heat didn’t build too much as I hiked in and at the point where it might get warm, you hit a forested stream area that is really beautiful. After passing through that area you hit the edges of the Havasupai Village and a nice little store/restaurant. One of the things I love is something I’ve always called momentary food. Food that, under ordinary conditions, probably isn’t magnificent, but because of the situation is down right fantastic. Often, it’s when you’ve been hiking on a trail for hours, or at Burning Man in the hot desert and something shows up in an unexpected way. An ice cold beverage, a hot pizza on the playa at Burning Man, a dehydrated camping meal, etc… The best example for me has always been Monopole Pizza when I was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh. Monopole served big slices of Sicilian style pizza for a dollar. Late at night, usually after a lot of drinks, that pizza was absolutely heavenly. So one night for dinner, several of us decided to go down to Monopole and get a pizza for dinner. It was dreadful, bland except for a lot of salt and just not a good pizza. So it wasn’t that the pizza was ever good, but drunk, hungry and the general happy environment made it seem fantastic.
Well on the outside of the Havasupai Village I had an incredible momentary food breakfast experience. I had, what at the time seemed like, one of the best breakfast burritos of my life and ice cream for desert. I sat there eating both with a couple of other soon to be Havasu Falls campers on a picnic table in the sun on a truly glorious morning with sterling blue skies and mountains rising in every direction. I would leave to find my way to the check-in office and get my official passes and then hike toward the campground. It’s not great trail from the village, in fact the landscape is a bit stark. Then you make a turn and see the river and some minor up river falls that themselves were absolutely beautiful. But shortly after you make a turn and down to your right you see an incredible sight.
My three days at Havasu falls was amazing, I met incredibly cool people. Got tossed around in my hammock during a pretty gnarly storm and honestly spent the entire time beyond belief at the beauty around me, many happiness moments every day.
Michael, this really is incredibly beautiful…as is your prose!
Thanks Jan, it’s a magnificent place.