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Fit and fearless

This Arizona wilderness trek changed my life. It can change yours too.

Photography by Arizona Outback Adventures

A vacation takes on a whole new perspective when you step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity to discover the adventurer within. My trek into the Havasu Canyon in the rugged “centre of the earth” was a self-affirming, soul-inspiring, life-enhancing experience.

Havasu Canyon, one of the many canyons tucked into the folds of the Grand Canyon, is home to the Havasupai people who are said to have lived there for the last 800 years. As a travel journalist for the last two decades, that trip back in 2003, was my first hardcore adventure and it changed the way I travel.

Since then, I have trekked to the Lenana summit of Mount Kenya, climbed a volcano in Guatamala, and hiked Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and B.C.’s rugged Forbidden Plateau. Part of the thrill is pushing myself beyond my comfort zone because that’s where the sense of accomplishment lies. And that sense of accomplishment is empowering.

One day on that Havasu trek we climbed down and back up the 200-foot Mooney Falls, a route described to be for “the fit and fearless.” You’ve heard of the proverbial “slippery slope.” Well, Mooney Falls is the real thing: A crawl though an old miner’s tunnel chipped through the travertine rock, then straight down using thick iron chains and giant spikes embedded deep into the rock for hand holds. Steep, narrow steps chiseled out of the cliff wall offer footholds as the falls shower the scene in a cool white mist, making some sections extra slippery.

“Don’t look down. Lean into the wall. Focus.” I kept telling myself and the budding adventurer within, “We can do this.” The little pep talk did the trick because with the help of the experienced guides from Arizona Outback Adventures, who put safety before all else, we all made it back to camp in one piece; tired but elated with the thrill of the conquest.

I’ve travelled on assignment to many places around the world, but it’s the Havasu Canyon that keeps calling me back. Images of steep red rock walls, narrow canyons, sparkling waterfalls splashing down into turquoise travertine pools and a riverside blessing from a Havasupai traditionalist are forever etched in my mind.

Anne Dimon is a travel writer and editor of Travel to Wellness.

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Uploaded by Anne Dimon