Tuesday, October 1, 2013
After a number of massive weather-related changes reshaped this iconic location, Kerrick James reflects on the past and the future of Havasupai
Just left of old Navajo Falls was a green, misty, watery groove we called the Grotto. A small, but realistic slice of Hawaii concealed in the parched Southwest, it was overwhelming in both beauty and mystery, and is now forever gone. Luckily, fate gave us Little Navajo Falls and Upper Navajo Falls (also called Fifty-Foot Falls), and these are actually the first waterfalls you'll see as you hike the dusty trail down from the village of Supai. Upper Navajo Falls is well off the trail, but has a decided edge in grandeur over Little Navajo, which is more approachable and easier to shoot. Plan to spend early morning here, catching the warm reflection of the dawn light off the sheer canyon walls on the cool blue waters of Havasu Creek, with intensely green water plants adding to the color palette.
I photograph cities and destinations for many clients, but my heart truly lies in showing friends who are exploring the natural world, and the challenge I made to myself was to get the wild spirit of the place and the kayaking into some key images. Never have I heard of someone kayaking the waterfalls of Havasupai and Havasu Creek, and many questions were posed as to where we were going from here. I was tempted to say down the Colorado River to Yuma, but that was too tall a tale to spin, even for me!
Truth is, whether you hike or ride horseback or in a helicopter (yes, you can) into the wonderland of Havasupai, plan to stay at least two full days. Four is better, as you won't want to leave. Bring plenty of camera batteries and memory cards, as there's nowhere to tank up on electrons unless you stay in the Havasupai Lodge in Supai. It's a long two miles from the village to Havasu Falls, and the campground is well sited as a base to photograph the major falls. For reservations, go to www.havasupaifalls.net.
See more of Kerrick James' work and sign up for workshops at kerrickjames.com.
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