Thursday, July 24, 2008

Havasu Day 2 (cont.): The Falls

At two we promptly threw our bags in our rooms and headed the two miles down to Havasu Falls. Some of us may have taken more direct routes than others. I knew Navajo Falls were somewhere before Havasu Falls, so every time a trail broke off to the left i followed it to see if it lead to Navajo. One of them finally appeared to do so, but you had to cross the stream and climb up a small wet "cliff." We decided to save it for later in case there was a better way across and on we went.

Naturally, Sheila and I had to stop and take pictures as soon as we saw the falls. Of course, the light wasn't too great, and it was way too bright to get those classic silky waterfall pictures (unless you had an ND filter, which i did), but we had fun anyways.

However, because of all our little sidetrips (to find Navajo Falls) and the excessive picture-taking, by the time we got down to the pools at the base of the falls everyone else was tired of playing in the water. And who can blame them? The water was freezing! btw, you can see all the people playing in the water in the bottom left of the picture.

Look at my cute (and cold) family! (And thanks to Sheila for taking the second picture).

Seriously, what was the guidebook author smoking, that water was not pleasant! But i think we all had fun anyway!

I somehow even convinced Jen to get back in and swim out to the falls with me. I think Anya and Aaron may have even gotten back in too. And while the water was really cold, after a while you kind of got used to it (or i may have just finally gone numb).

But just the way the water and terraces are, it's just so cool! After a little more fun in the water Jen figured the kids had had enough and headed back up to the lodge.
For those of you keeping track, that’s 8 miles to Supai, 2 miles to the falls, and 2 miles back to Supai for a total of 12 miles. Not to shabby if you ask me, especially for my little Anya! Not to mention Jen and her pack and me and mine. While Jen and the kids and Britny and Adam headed back to crash, Pat and Kayla settled in for the long haul waiting for the slow-poke photographers to get their pictures.

Of course it was still too early to take good pictures. The falls were half in shadow and half-lit which would make for poorly exposed pics (half of the picture would either be blown out or too dark). So we scouted around looking for other good spots. With most of the base of the falls in shadow, it was actually pretty easy to find cool little spots. And of course i looked for a good spot to eventually shoot the falls from once the canyon and falls were fully in shadow.

Seriously, these pictures just don't do justice to the canyon. It was just so incredibly beautiful. And you would not believe the colors. Especially the color of the water. If i remember correctly, Havasu actually means people of the blue-green waters.

Again, lots of pictures of the base of the falls because just above were i cut the upper falls off is still fully lit. But beautiful anyways. It's also a little wierd getting to the base of Havasu Falls and looking for some of those classic shots you may have seen on the internet before you came down. Apparently, a few years ago a flash flood actually swept away many of the terraces that were at the base of the falls. From what i understand, the higher terraces in the upper part of the picture were actually rebuilt.

I had read trip reports online of groups who went into the cayon during monsson season and instead of beautiful blue and green water pouring over the falls they were greeted with a river of mud. If i remember correctly, i think the village of Supai has actually had to be rebuilt a couple of times because of flash floods. But at least you don't have to worry about coming when the falls are all dried up, since they're spring fed they're pretty year round.

I looked and looked for the perfect place to shoot from and eventually found a place off to the left of this picture. It involved carrying all my gear across the terraces in the center of this picture and then more terraces off to the left. And while the terraces were only about knee deep at most, they were slippery and water was pouring over them. And the water to either side was plenty deep to ruin my camera.

Anyway, i ended up spending most of my time at this 'perfect' spot (off to the left) when it turns out this spot right here was the best spot. And this is really the only good picture i took from there. And even then i actually had to combine two pictures to get rid of the people walking across the terraces in one, and swimming at the base of the falls in the other. Doh! This picture actually shows my route a little better. Walk along the terrace that starts behind the tree, then step down (it was a big step, too) to the next terrace and continue left. If it looks easy, trust me, it wasn't. It was especially nerve-racking carring all that camera equipment! i still can't believe i didn't take more pictures from here!

And here (drum roll please) is my 'spot'. Sucks, doesn't it? i seriously thought these would be the best pictures and took so many and hardly liked any of them. And of course every time the wind blew a little it would spray mist all over my lens. I’d think I had protected the lens, but when I finally had a chance to download pictures (well over a week later) I realized I hadn’t and that a good many pictures had been ruined by the droplets on my lens. As if that wasn't enough, the mineral content in the spray stained my filter. Stupid spray! After reviewing my pictures later, I realized that the really good pictures had been right from the easy spot, but I only took the one from there. Guess I need to go back…

Everyone else finally left while I shot a final few pictures. But you can see the canyon is finally all shaded and i had the falls all to myself. It was really nice.

I imagine that the rock you see to the left and right of the falls was similarly formed by ab ancient, but much larger cascade here. Can you imagine what i would have looked like? As if it wasn't beautiful enough already.

Here's a few close-ups of the terraces at the top of the falls.

I thought this shot did a great job of really showing you what those terraces are like. There's that little ledge you can walk across, but to the one side there's usually a fall of some sort (obviously not usually this high), and to the other a deep pool. But whenever you crossed the stream or pools that's what it was like.

With still a little light left, on the way back I decided to wade out to Navajo falls which had earlier dissuaded us. i figured with all my earlier wading around i wouldn't have any problems getting out to these other falls. And now that i think of it, the pools at the base of these falls seemed much shallower, i wonder if it would have been warmer water over here. Oh well, next time. But it was definitely a little more dificult getting over there, but only if you didn't want to get wet.

This was actually a multi-image panaroma and i was pleasantly surprise to see it turn out since they so rarely do for me. Of course taking all those pictures in the good light used what little was left of the light in general and meant I got to hike back in the dark. At least it was cooler and it didn't get really dark until right when i got back to the lodge. Those two miles back seemed to take forever too, probably 'cause you're hiking in deep sand the whole way, but i sure had the trail to myself. By the time I got back I think my whole family was already asleep. But here’s the great thing about staying in the lodge (vs. camping), I took a shower. After a full day of hiking and playing that shower sure felt nice! And even though my pictures didn’t turn out as well as I would’ve liked, the bottom line is that I had fun and my family had fun. And I guess I can’t be all that disappointed if a crappy photographer (such as myself) and a simple microchip can’t do justice to the beauty I got to experience. If nothing else, the pictures will always remind me of how beautiful it really was. And hey, now I have a reason to go back! Anybody else want to come?
Distance traveled: 12+ miles by foot
Time traveled: about 9 hours on foot
Total cost today:$130 for Havasu permits and lodging (just the one of two nights)
Total cost so far:$402


Barbers 4 said...

I think you have looked at those pictures too long and are being incredibly hard on yourself and your results. I think they are almost all STUNNING! I especially liked #13, #15, #16, #17. (counting down from the top) Nice job. Hope it was fun!

princess jen said...

I agree with Tara. Those pictures are fabulous!! You are a great photographer!!! And the falls are truly gorgeous albeit extremely cold....

The Andersens said...

oh my goodness alan!!! those pictures turned out breathtakingly beautiful!!! i LOVE them. they are so amazing. the 'silky' water effects, the beautiful colors, the canyon colors. its all gorgeous. i don't know what you're smoking if you don't think they look amazing. they could all be made into post cards. i so so wish i could've come with. it looks like you guys had a ton of fun. and it would have been even more fun with shiela, kayla and pat. what a blast. next time you go, let me know!! topher and I will come!! probably minus a Grace unless she's gotten a transplant...but either way...we want to go!! its GORGEOUS. and i LOVE your pictures. :)

Super Daysh said...

Holy Cow alan! Those pictures are seriously incredible! I'm going to have to give you my order again for a few more to hang up in my hallway. They really are awesome!! I'm going to have to go back later and read all the commentary (oh, don't ever harrass me about long blog posts!!) LOVE your pics though! Maybe I can talk Joe into one of them for our living room in REALLY big!!

Thoughtful Runner said...

Okay - we now have a new world record holder for the longest blog ever!!! Spread it out a bit!! Let us enjoy it over a longer period of time than the 45 minutes it takes us to read it in one sitting!
That notwithstanding - it looks like a gorgeous place - and the pictures were awesome (moderation, moderation). Do they run a half marathon down there?!? Even if not, looks like we need to plan a trip down there some fall or spring to see it for ourselves.

Carl & Karen said...

Yes, yes, yes, we definitely want to go, although I hate super cold water (yet would of course bite the bullet, because how can you be there and NOT swim?) Your pictures are great--I breezed through the text, though, because I only had 6 hours to devote to your blog so I had to prioritize.... Also, how do you manage to get your text to correspond with your pictures? I have yet to figure that one out. Do tell.


Moosie said...

Wow Alan -
Very cool pics!
I am impressed!
However - I definitely still want you to send me a DVD with your pictures - I promised to send a copy to Britney and Adam as well.
Send it as soon as you can!

Rachel H. said...

DANG, DANG, DANG....How 'bout I come visit you guys so you can teach me some photog tricks and I can chat for hours with your sweet wife?? You are AMAZING with what you do...I could never make anything look as magical as you can! You have my COMPLETE and total admiration!

Taylor said...

I loved Havasu!!!! although, my family actually camped rather than wussing out and staying in the lodge. although it may have been because the lodge wasn't an option when we did it. :) Either way I am super jealous of your vacation. It looks awesome and your pictures are stunning.