We paddled about five miles to Havasu Canyon where we were dropped off for the day. The stream was a brilliant crystal blue and held many fine swimming holes and waterfalls. The whole valley was lush with grapevines and none of the crew that I asked knew why that was other than they were in all the old pictures they had seen from the 1800's. Though there were usually three or four options with every hike, today there were only two options. Option A was to hike to Mooney Falls with Lee setting the pace so that we would make it back with adequate time to continue on our journey. Option B was to spend the day in the lush grapevines swimming in among the pools and waterfalls. I was sorely tempted to try the more relaxed option for once on this trip but the urge to explore was too strong and I opted for Option A. I was beginning to get a reputation of going the distance on every hike and deep down inside, I had to keep it intact.
Lee set off at a blistering half trot with Nick, Art, Anita, Jorge and I right behind. Anita quickly dropped off the pace and went back to enjoy Option B, but the rest of us kept up crossing six miles of some of the most rugged terrain in about two and a half hours. My bad knee was swollen when we arrived and my screaming body wasn't too much into eating but I forced myself to eat and drink quickly in the spectacular beauty of Mooney Falls. Fifteen minutes after we arrived and just as I had snapped a couple pictures of the falls following the inhalation of my sandwich, Lee said it was time to be heading back. I dry swallowed a couple Advil as I trotted towards where he had already disappeared down the trail. The pace back was just as blistering.
I made it to the boats somehow with fifteen minutes to spare, very much thanks to Lee's pace setting abilities and we pushed off downstream. Sitting on hard fiberglass benches never felt so good. We paddled only a few miles before stopping at a cozy camp called Second Chance camp at mile 158. Everyone that went to Mooney falls were tired out and there really wasn’t anyplace accessible behind camp so we stayed in camp and ate salmon spread and crackers until a supper of a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry over rice.
After supper, I limped out on Duffy’s dory and had a beer with him and Nick and shot the breeze for awhile. During dinner, Jorge had given me one of his dark German brews as well so I had plenty of libations. After a hard day’s hike, they went down just right along with another couple of Advil. Later after everyone went to bed, the few of us remaining talked about upcoming Lava Falls and the flips people have had there. It has been a trip free of any flips this far and because that isn’t the norm, I think Lava Falls, the last really huge rapid on the river, weighs heavily on the crew’s mind. I know it weighs heavily on my mind. When I went to bed, sleep was long in coming and even then, huge and heavy waves haunted my dreams. Tomorrow at Lava, we all will face our demons.