Rick Olivares



I had no idea that I’d be going on this trip. Well, we had been planning it since last year, but through a complicated process, I thought I would be going on a vacation to Hawaii that weekend. I had told them weeks beforehand that my mom had booked my ticket to hawaii, and while I wasn't necessarily complaining about going to Hawaii, I was bummed to be missing the trip. I missed the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t until a couple of nights before they were going to set off that I realized I was going to Hawaii the month after (classic me). By some miracle, there was still a spot for me to join, so I got a shift for work covered, packed my stuff the night before, and stayed the night at Josh’s with Peter. We took off at 4:30am, and put ourselves through a hot, occasionally chaotic, fun, dance filled, twelve hour drive to the Hualapai parking lot. Somehow, we had a lot of energy and wanted to get ready to hike in since it was cool, and we wanted to beat the heat until we were “greeted” by an assumptive night watch who told us that we couldn’t hike into the canyon at night. So, we set our alarms for 4:30 again, and slept on the concrete around the car.

That morning we were up and at ‘em. In a flash we were packed and trudging our way into the canyon for our ten mile hike. I missed the weight of a pack. I missed the creaking of pack straps. I missed the crunching sound of the gravel under our boots. I missed the red-orange colors of seemingly everything in the grand canyon. We were on a race with the rotation of our planet to find our paradise. The beginnings of our hike was coated in picturesque views of orange skies mixing into the canyon rock, forging it into a deeper scarlet. We found ourselves soon enough, in Supai, the home of the Havasupai Native Americans (English translation: People of the blue-green water), deep in the grand canyon. It was clearly a poor town. In a lot of ways, the rugged walls, dirt roads, lush trees, tattered clothes, dogs, trash, and all reminded me of Peru. It felt homey in the generally blunt energy of the locals. The eyes of each person spoke of wisdom. Connectedness. Struggle. Strength. It was beyond fascinating. We ordered some delicious, home cooked breakfast from the “Sinyella Store”, hung out with some puppies, checked in to our campsite, and ushered ourselves on since the race against the heat wasn’t over yet.

We heard and then saw our first signs of water just as the heat began to force its way over the canyon walls. The curly borders of the shadows steadily approached the walls as we stumbled down our last stretch of downhill. The water's roar had been steadily growing the whole hike, and there we were: at a cliff looking out upon a slender waterfall that crashed into a large aquamarine pool that steadily flowed into smaller cliffs and falls. Havasu Falls. The whole area was covered in trees. The colors contrasted with such intensity that looking in any direction at any time was a sight to behold. My skin hungered for a cleansing from the sweat and grit.

We took a few pictures, decided we needed to set up camp before satisfying our thirst. We dashed down the rest of the hill, into our oasis of trees and a continuous background noise of running water. We quickly found a campsite, set up, and then sprinted back to the falls. We found the short trailhead that lead to the shore of the falls. There were already several people enjoying the water when we got there. There were tables with benches in the water. We immediately took off our sandals/flip flops and tan to the water. After ten miles of dust and sweat, connecting with such clear water again was unreal. It was cold, another sharp contrast. I'd never felt so intimately connected with water in my life. The moment was short lived when I resurfaced to find Peter and Josh already swimming to where waterfall hit the water. I chased them.

The weekend continued on with that basic theme: chasing and connecting with water after cooking in the baking sun. We climbed through caves and perilous, slippery walls with wobbly stakes and chains as support to go to Mooney falls, we jumped off of rope swings into small pools, we saw insects of all kinds, we climbed rocks, we soaked below waterfalls, we swam downriver to find other jumps and wooden bridges... We paraded in paradise for two days and it was beyond glorious. 

This trip was filled with laughs, arguments, smiles, and wonderment. It was a trip that was a metaphor for life: getting and feeling dirty/murky, cleansing, and then repeating. It was a trip of contrasts. It reminded me that life thrives anywhere. That water is life, and that it should always be respected. It reminded me that I love my friends who not only support, but partake in the activities I do. I have friends that thrive to live happy as often and for as long as possible. It was a time to cleanse, or to realize cleansing is needed. Our time in paradise was short lived, but it felt long because I hadn't felt so free in so long. Time seems to pass by more slowly when you feel free. Those are the moments and times I live for: the sense of complete freedom.