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Chasing waterfalls in the Grand Canyon

Arizona is hot and dry — until you round a bend.

The term “trip of a lifetime” is overused. But this was definitely the trip of a lifetime.

Beyond the fact that I was surrounded by 25 of the coolest people possible, I was in the Grand Canyon surrounded by waterfalls (everyone on the trip was invited by Columbia Sportswear to try out their new 2013 gear).

We headed into the Grand Canyon from the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot, in the northwest of Arizona. The first couple of miles was a steady descent down the switchback, passing horses and encouraging those who were finishing the grueling hike out.

The hike in was spectacular.

Being from Nova Scotia, we are fortunate to have amazing scenery and rolling hills along the ocean, but this was a different kind of amazing– the desert.

Canyon walls surrounded us as we got closer to our eventual destination of the Havasupai Village and on to the Havasu Falls campground.

After about 10 km, we stopped for lunch along a little river and got some shade. Then we pressed on into the Havasupai Village and another few kilometers towards the campground.

But before we reached our campground, we got a little bit distracted.

After hiking nearly 14km of dry, desert ground, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by waterfalls.

I wish there had been a camera looking back at us to see our reactions as we came over the hill to see the 30ft waterfall.

The first one was called Rock Falls. And as if that wasn’t enough, to the left was another one off in the distance–New Navajo Falls. Blue water all around, between vast dry desert Canyon walls.

Our tour guide Brian scurried us along, saying we need to get to camp before we can do some exploring. But there will be plenty of exploring he assured us.

So, we reluctantly continued on.

First, let me back track a bit for you. This trip was last minute for me, and I had no prior knowledge of Havasu Falls. I only knew that it was in the Grand Canyon.

Alright, back to the remaining 1km hike to the campground. I was excited to get there so we could settle in, then come back to do some waterfall jumping!

Not so fast. Another corner turned, another waterfall.

This time, it was the big one- Havasu Falls itself. A 120-foot fall into turquoise coloured water. This can’t be real. We all stood there in awe, taking pictures and shaking our heads.

We eventually did make it to the campsite, which was more like an outdoor mini- Columbia Sportswear themed village, fully equipped with matching tents, sleeping bags, tables and a full kitchen! (Located directly next to a river, of course).

The next couple of days consisted of waterfall jumping, swimming (including behind waterfalls), mineshaft exploring, steep descents, night exploring, amazing food, laughing and sharing stories.

That brings me to my next point. What made this trip such an incredible life changing experience wasn’t just the amazing scenery, it was the people I was fortunate enough to share it with.

The experience only lasted a few days, but the memories and friendships will last a lifetime.

How to get there

For more information on getting to Havasu Falls, and to find out the many different options check out Arizona Outback Adventures

How I ended up in Arizona

Columbia Sportswear and Mountain Hardware hold an annual media trip to announce their new product lines for the following year, and this year it was in beautiful sunny Sedona, Arizona. For three days Columbia and Mountain Hardware hosted some 50 media types from all over North America to showcase their new 2013 technology—Omni-Freeze ZERO and CoolQ Zero. A handful of us got to stay a few extra days with the Columbia team and do some Canyon exploring!

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Uploaded by Chris Surette