Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Havasupai - Part 3

The nights down in the campgrounds of Havasupai were magical. With no light pollution, you could see alllllll the stars. The magic wasn't just in the stars though, it was in the movement and power of outer space.

**Life Lesson on Peripheral Vision from a Shooting Star**
Use it.

While I was glancing down at the trail on my way back from the bathroom, I saw what was probably the brightest shooting star I've ever seen; bright enough for my peripheral vision to catch it and pull my gaze up and away from the trail at my feet. It made me grateful for peripheral vision, and I wondered a little about how much attention I give to my spiritual peripheral vision. Because, things are happening around me all the time that have power to enlighten and uplift, but in order for them to work that way, I have to see them- and if my spiritual peripheral vision is developed and trusted, the chance of me seeing those things is opened to so. much. more. When light streaks across the canvas of my own life, I want to be able to catch it and let it pull my focus from terrestrial viewpoints to something celestial.

**Life Lesson on Wondering from a Shooting Star**
Do it.

After the bright star alerted me to the heavens, I found a rock slightly off the path that was just big enough for me to sit on with my feet tucked up underneath me. And as I watched searched the sky for more movement, I was rewarded with the most beautiful night-sky event I've seen in my life this far. It was a meteor that sailed through the sky and remained bright for 7 seconds or more (count it... it was a long time!). I could see the burning rock/ice/whatever it was in the heart of the bulb, a halo around it, and a tail as long as the canyon was wide trailed behind.

It was spectacular, and I literally gasped out loud to no one but myself, and then let out that gasp with an audible wow.

A week later my choir sang about the angels singing at Christ's birth, and it kind of made me wonder what that would have been like. If a shooting star could fill me with so much wonder, I can't imagine what it would have been like to hear actual angels in the sky.


The second day we all awoke, heated up our breakfast meals, and prepared to go on a 6 mile round trip hike to Beaver Falls.

(It was fun to see my dad with his brother ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป.) Multiple people tried to convince my Uncle Roger not to go on this particular hike. The first mile or so is grueling with a slippery descent down a steep cliff. The words "rock climbing" and "chains" and "slippery" were used heavily, with a punctuated statement from his son: "Dad, the penalty for failure is death."

But Roger wouldn't have it. He laced up his hiking shoes, grabbed his poles, and led the pack.

We scaled rocks and climbed through caves as we made our descent down the cliff next to Mooney Falls.

After about 1/3 of the way down, we hit a bottleneck of people who were wisely taking their time to descend the rest of the way.

I didn't mind the brief pause because we had this to stare at:

When it was our turn, we all put on our gloves (to provide more grip on the wet, slippery chains) and cautiously watched each step.

Chains and wooden ladders and foot hole sized chunks chiseled out of the rock. I couldn't get my cousin's words out of my head: the penalty for failure is death. He wasn't wrong.

Thankfully we avoided that penalty and all made it down safely.

We peeled our gloves off, took a quick snapshot of the falls from our new vantage point, and continued along the creek on our way to Beaver Falls. I was so grateful that the leaves had decided to start changing just before we arrived. It made a beautiful hike so much more beautiful.

There were multiple river crossings, each one more spectacular than the last. We took our hiking shoes off, strapped our hiking sandals on, and waded into the water, hoping earnestly that the crystal clear, gorgeous, freezing water wouldn't get any deeper than mid-thigh because: cold.

We were lucky. Most of the water only came to knee level, and nothing got deeper than my mid-thigh. 

Before the hike, I had decided that I was going to leave my hiking poles behind. It was only 6 miles, after all, and I didn't want them to hinder me. But as we began to leave our camp, my cousin Jamie convinced me that I would want them. 

And she was so right. Have you ever hiked with poles? I was pretty sure it was for old folks, so I guess I'm officially old. But it's a game changer. On the slippery rocks and sand, those poles provided so much stability- and the river crossings were a breeze even when the current was a little grippy. I'm starting to understand why mountain goats are such good hikers... 4 anchor points are wayyyyy better than 2.

We wound our way down the river, pausing countless times to take pictures in an effort to somehow capture the brilliance and beauty of what we were seeing.

For six miles we played with that river. Sometimes alongside it, other times above it, and occasionally in it. But always we could hear it. Always we could see it. Always we could feel its strong and calming energy. At one point I stood at a viewpoint and felt the depth and brilliance of Leif Enger's book title: Peace Like a River




These are my favorite kinds of hikes. The one where your brain has to engage and solve obstacles (well, not really because the people beforehand who went through and built the ladders were really the ones to solve the obstacles).

Don't get me wrong, I like to walk along a well-maintained path with nary a tree branch or rock to step over; those are the hikes where I do some of my best thinking. But these hikes keep me fully engaged in the present. Watching my steps, searching for the safest way down, breathing in the energy and wisdom of the rugged(ish), beautiful earth all while feeling the shape of it underneath my feet.

Surprisingly, we saw a palm tree in the canyon's bottom.

It was huge- obviously thriving in terms of its health- and I wondered how it got there and if it was happy being the only one of its kind. I feel like that sometimes... different than the masses around me, seemingly thriving, and perhaps lonely. This tree became my favorite of the trip because I felt a kinship to it. I would have hugged it if it was a little more reachable (another parallel? ๐Ÿค”)

Anyway- finally the intensity of the river's noise changed and we turned a corner to see it. Beaver Falls.

The only thing that could have made it any more magical would have been if there was a rainbow soaring from one side to the other and colorful, smiling, singing fish jumping from one pool to the next. I couldn't wait to get down there. Next time I might even find a way to pack my big camera all the way down there because it was just so spectacular, but my iPhone tried its hardest. I have pictures from above ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป, pictures from below๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

Pictures from inside

And pictures from behind the waterfall:

Which was very brave of me, you know. The water, as mentioned before, was quite cold, and there was no getting behind the waterfall without... well... getting behind the waterfall.

We finally felt cold enough that we were ready to go. Well, one of us was ready to get out of the water but stay on the bank and stare at it for another twelve hours (๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿผ‍♀️), but everyone else was ready to go. And we didn't want to be hiking in the dark, so that was a factor, too.

We used our towels rags to dry ourselves off,

Took a final picture, and bid goodbye to Beaver Falls. 

I do hope to see it again sometime soon.

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