According to Merriam-Webster an “adventure” is an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.
Under that rationale, it means that I’m one of the least adventurous people out there. I have a fear of falling, heights give me the willies, and I never deliberately put myself in dicey situations.
In the age of social media where your feeds are filled with one crazy photo after the next, whether it be a mountain biker flying off some enormous jump, a climber free-scaling a vertical cliff, or a base jumper launching themselves into thin air, it’s easy to subscribe to the dictionary’s interpretation of adventure. Now don’t get me wrong. I love those kinds of photos, and I’m in awe of those athletes and their unimaginable feats.
Yet at the same time, that kind of adventure seems unattainable to the average person like me. So I say it’s time to squash those preconceived notions of what adventure really means.
Recently, I went backpacking on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, where our final destination was a lush enchanted oasis in the middle of the remote Arizona desert. There was nothing particularly precarious about this trip – just ten miles hiking each way with 2,200 feet of elevation change. It was challenging enough to work up a good sweat, but no special skills were required.
My two friends and I started our hike with an immediate descent down a long series of switchbacks into the dry wash of Havasu Canyon. An offshoot of the Grand Canyon, the landscape as we meandered down the river bed consisted of massive neon walls, cacti, and a vast bluebird sky. Spring in the desert really is intoxicating, and over the next 7.5 miles, I just kept thinking about how good it felt to have that backpack back on.
After 7.5 miles, we reached the village of Supai, where the Havasupai tribe lives. We picked up our permit and quickly scurried along, as the pinnacle of our journey was waiting just a short ways ahead.
Soon we encountered a milky blue trickling stream. This was the beginning of Havasu Creek, a limestone heavy river that seemed to bubble up out of nowhere. Turns out, this water comes from a natural spring that literally flows right out of the earth.
As we continued down the trail, the volume of water multiplied, and eventually we rounded a corner and BOOM! Fairyland.
Below the trail was a roaring waterfall called Navajo Falls, the first of 5 major waterfalls we would encounter over the course of the weekend. But this was no ordinary waterfall. Above Navajo was a long series of sparkling terraced pools surrounded by travertine rock. We immediately changed into our suits and walked out to the middle of the cascades. With the aquamarine water and riparian vegetation backed by the burnt orange canyon walls, this was the most colorful desert landscape I had ever seen.
After sunbathing in the river, we noticed misty air a couple hundred feet up river, so we headed that way to explore. We couldn’t believe it. It was another waterfall, called Fifty Foot Falls, which was wider and had an enormous shallow pool to swim in.
Here my friends had the genius idea to blow up our sleeping pads and to use them as float toys. Best camping hack ever. I grabbed my waterproof speaker, put on some music, and we all hopped in. Floating around next to a waterfall listening to my favorite tunes…could this be more perfect?
After hours of play time, it was getting late in the afternoon, and we decided we should probably get to camp. On the way to the campground, we passed one more waterfall, the most famous on the Reservation, called Havasu Falls. It was just as glorious in person as all of the pictures I had seen.
We settled on a campsite right on the river. After setting up my hammock, where I would be sleeping, we broke out some snacks and to decided to wind down with a mellow playlist and an early evening nightcap. I hadn’t seen the friends I was with for years, and they recently returned from a year long road trip from San Diego to Argentina in a Vanagon. There was no better way to reunite, and we spent the night swapping stories and getting inspired by each other’s travels.
The next day we woke up and hiked further down river to explore Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls. Our day was filled with more swimming, sunbathing, and laughter. It was also a great opportunity to practice our photography skills since every corner introduced us to a new incredible view. It seemed so surreal that a river like this could exist in a place so harsh as the Arizona desert.
On our third and final day, rather than rushing back to the trailhead, we decided to take our time. We went back to Navajo Falls and Fifty Foot Falls, floated around, ate lunch, and soaked it all in before we made the 10 mile trek back to our car. We ended up timing our day just right. As we made the final climb out, the sun was setting, and the canyon walls lit up in shades of pastel. It was the perfect way to end the trip.
Now weeks later, I’m still glowing from our experience – getting out into nature, hanging with friends, working up a sweat, swimming in waterfalls, and listening to tunes on my FUGOO Sport while sipping on camp cocktails. To me, this is the ultimate definition of adventure, and the best part is there is no risk required.
Everyone has his or her own concept of adventure. An adventure can be something as simple as spending an afternoon hiking a local trail or going on that bike ride that you’ve been thinking about. Really all that matters is that you get out there and live.
So let’s redefine that little term called adventure, shall we?
Want to plan your own trip to Havasu Falls? Head to Kristen’s blog, Bearfoot Theory, where she provides all of the details about this extraordinary place.