by Gregg Thomas.
See Part I of this blog series here.
Once we arrived at the village, Bryan and I checked into the Supai Lodge. We then continued hiking down the canyon. About a mile down the trail we found Upper Navajo Falls, where there have been significant changes to this falls due to a major flood back in 2010. The water was spectacular and only a brief teaser for the views yet to come.
After another mile or so down the canyon, Bryan and I arrived on a rocky escarpment. We heard the sound of the falls plummeting over the edge in the distance, and we began to descend the trail that hugged the left side of the sheer red cliff face. After a short while, we looked back to our right to see Havasu Falls plunging about 100 feet into a pool of light blue water.
Why is the water so blue? According to Colorado River and Trails Expeditions: ” In the case of the Little Colorado River and Havasu Creek, they are very rich in lime due to to the sedimentary rock layers they have cut through. In addition to the lime scattering light in these streams, the calcium carbonate in the lime coats the bottom of these waters with a white bottom. The white light reflected off objects can be seen when no part of the light spectrum is reflected significantly more than any other color. Thus in swimming pools, the Little Colorado River, and Havasu Creek, the deeper the water the darker the blue color, due to more orange absorption of the sunlight from the water and the white bottom reflecting all colors equally.”
Below Havasu Falls the river is connected by a series of shallow cascading blue pools, separated by travertine walls. These natural pools have been created by the river depositing dissolved minerals in the water. The lime in the water is what dissolves the minerals, and the travertine deposits are built up over time. This also means that anything dropped in the creek is soon coated with minerals and becomes part of the creek bed or pool walls.
This is a view of Havasu Falls from the foot of the pool. For this shot, I tried to get the reflection of the red cliffs as well as the blue of the pool. This is one of the last shots I took of Havasu Falls on this day, as Bryan and I began to hike another two miles down to Mooney Falls.
As I did the math in my head, we had hiked roughly 12 or so miles at this point, had another two down to Mooney Falls to go, with another four miles of backtracking to get back the lodge. I was distinctly aware that (at least speaking for myself), I had packed too much stuff.
After some time at Havasu Falls, Bryan and I continued hiking down the canyon to Mooney Falls, about another mile past Havasu Falls, just past the campground. It is yet another breathtaking waterfall of about 200 ft in height. There are multiple views from the top of the falls from the top of the escarpment. When you look down, you again see the falls plunging into this pool of a fantastic blue color. Really and truly an amazing sight to behold!
What is seen all around the falls are the mineral deposits over time. As the water moves through the canyon and shifts over eons of time, minerals are deposited, leaving the interesting formations seen to the right and left of the waterfall.
On our last three miles or so back to the lodge, I stopped to take a quick picture of the creek from a small bridge. With the blue color of the water, just the simplest creek can be incredibly picturesque in this canyon.
At this point, we were 16 miles or so into this first day’s hike of 17 miles, with only a mile or so back to the lodge.
Later that night, the good news was that there was water. The bad news was that it was cold water. After we had taken very quick showers and a bite to eat, it seemed like two in the morning, yet our watches showed that it was only 9 p.m. or so. We were beat.
More to come in Part III.