Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls, march 2020

I will never forget my backpacking trip to Havasu Falls for many reasons. When my friends and I left Boulder for the long drive down to Arizona, COVID-19 was still that thing we’d heard about on the news, but never expected to have an impact on our own lives. The night before we headed into the Havasupai Reservation for the ten mile hike to our campsites, we were joking about how we should book cheap flights because prices were dropping so much.

The hike itself is one of the most spectacular I’ve ever done. I’m usually all about cold weather vacations, so it only makes sense that I would pick March to visit the desert. We drove through snowy pine forests on our way to the trailhead, and the temperature maxed out at a cool 65-degrees. That wasn’t going to stop me from swimming in the turquoise waterfalls though, and it didn’t.

On our second night in camp, we were woken up by shouts of “flash flood incoming, seek higher ground.” Cue a mad dash to grab all our stuff, and carry our tents up to the designated safe spots. No one knew what was going on—whether we were minutes away from being swept away down the canyon, or merely being asked to move to higher ground as a precaution. After hours of mild panic around the campground, we finally caught a few hours of sleep. In the morning, we easily decided to hike back out a day early, rather than risk staying in place with heavy rains coming our way.

When we came back out to civilization (and cell phone service again), the whole world had changed.