Journey through Havasu

girl posing in green filed surrounded by rust colored rock formations
Ashley Worley, CSU,Stanislaus Alumni walks through an Ivy field feeling the peacefulness. Photo credit: Justen Christensen

The Spirit of Havasu

Within the walls of Havasu Canyon, one experiences a piece of themselves. If a person ever finds themselves there I hope they have the chance to tune the self into what is happening around them in the now. The way this trip came about was a story worthy of its own book title which I will save for another time. I was lucky enough on this trip to be accompanied by some of my closest friends, whom I didn’t see until reaching the campgrounds 10 miles into the canyon. Havasu for me is a trip of endurance, a trip that tests the integrity of our minds and bodies, a journey through the pains and struggles of exertion to meet the real you.

The Climb
Ashley Worley CSU, Stanislaus Alumni climbs the cliff wall to reach the top of the canyon wall near Beaver Falls. Photo credit: Justen Christensen

On the hike in, a person has the chance to mull over all the things that plague their daily life. We are then transposed away from our stresses and comfortable zones into this realm of wonder and amazement where the raw power of the place makes us feel slightly less significant to ourselves. It’s as if someone designed the experience going down into the village and beyond, hand crafted to deliver moments of epiphanic proportions. The journey through the canyon is like a shedding of the proverbial self. Havasu is a spirit in its own, it contains an energy that only those willing to put forth the efforts to gain the experience get to synergies with. Of course, a person can hire a helicopter to transport them, but that is robbing ourselves of the journey and taking away from all that is Havasupai. Havasu is refreshing; the place allows a person to step back into a primitive style of living and see the simplicities of necessity. A person can connect with nature, interact with it, and feel its power. The trek into Havasu Falls is quite a journey but one must always follow along with the sayings and clichés of the locals, “What goes down, must come back up.” This is more of a Grand Canyon saying than Havasu, but Havasu is encompassed within the Grand Canyon and empties itself into the Colorado River about 8 mi. downstream from the camp area. The people of Havasupai are of a kind variety. I did some interacting with them and for the most part they welcomed our presence. The concierge at the check was extremely helpful in a way that I felt I had better get it all the first time.

Havasu Crossing.jpg
Havasu Crossing Photo credit: Justen Christensen

The Way Up
A ladder leading to the top of Beaver Falls.This is one of several wooden ladders along the trail. Photo credit: Justen Christensen
Rapids Below
An image of Beaver Falls taken from the base of the falls. Photo credit: Justen Christensen

The trip back up is where the mind and body become tested on a range different from what an average person is used to enduring. Both the physical and metaphysical self are put to the test; it’s up to us as individuals to keep the two working in conjunction to reach the rim of the canyon at Hualapai–“The Hilltop”. On the hike out from the campground a noise startled me off in the distance. The thing for me was the fact that there was this loud noise in the first place. I had not heard anything but my own thoughts, the roaring of the waterfalls close by and the thoughts of my closest friends, that had been mouthed aloud, of course. A moment later a man came riding at a full clip on his horse headed for the town-site and the small medical clinic that is offered to the people as their healthcare option. Upon entering the town square, I noticed a group of federal rangers gathered outside the makeshift urgent care center and they appeared as if no one had the welcome to come see what was happening. I kept walking, but it’s a wonderment for me as to what took place with the little girl and why the rangers needed to be involved but I guess it’s a bit of a different cultural context entrenched in the existence of a Native American reservation.

Beaver Falls Sign
A sign high above the creek marks Beaver Falls below. Photo credit: Justen Christensen
Atop Beaver Falls
Standing atop Beaver Falls peering down river. Havasu Falls, AZ. Photo credit: Justen Christensen

Standing here overlooking Beaver Falls I had this sense of finality, like I had achieved a long-lasting goal. We had reached the destination. The last time my friends and I tried this venture we were thwarted by a thunderstorm looming over the canyon. I have carried this sagacious sense of fulfillment ever since.

Accommodating and Planning for a Trip

There are a few websites and apps that I use to check trail locations and current conditions like All Trails, The Hiking Project, and Fat Maps, a 3D trail mapping site. I can also get a good lay of the land using an app called US Topo, or Cal Topo these are topographical mapping apps where a person can get good lay of the land and terrain using different topographical overlays.

Usually by comparing a couple of websites I can get a somewhat accurate idea of what the trail and weather conditions may entail. I do rely heavily on reviews from other users so if it makes the difference whether we put a review or description on a website or not; I for one, read them as well as contribute when applicable.

My go-to website for primitive camping as well as full service campsites along the way is freecampsites.net. this website lists available campsites located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) properties that are free of charge. I have had excellent luck with places to stay and camp. Another site I use frequently is called My Trip Calculator or gasbuddy.com these sites allow a person to input their vehicle information and destination and will output a generalized fuel price for the trip, a very useful tool when developing a travel budget.

Another budgetary item is sustenance. Where do we find affordable food on the road? Unfortunately, food is an expensive commodity. Buying food at home before starting a trip is the best way around this obstacle. Planning out meals and sticking to the plan is essential in this area of the planning. I always plot for at least a meal or two on the road and of course coffee, the essential ingredient to travel life.

Overall Havasu Falls was just the place that my friends and I had needed to reset our biological tickers. There is factual evidence provided through an interview with David Strayer, a psychologist published by “National Geographic”, in an article called “This Is Your Brain on Nature”. In the article Strayer talks about the “Three-Day-Effect” which is the amount of time it takes for the brain to basically be reset from its busy-work lifestyle back in the urban areas, “On the third day my senses recalibrate—I smell things and hear things I didn’t before,” Strayer says. I find this to be an accurate account of what takes place within my own self after a period of time in the great outdoors

Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls from a swimming hole just below the falls. Photo credit: Justen Christensen

Travel safe this holiday season!