Look out Gulch

Havasupai Falls

When given the opportunity to hike to havasupai falls, you say yes. Even if it’s still winter and the nights get below freezing. Havasupai falls are a hidden treasure within the Grand Canyon becoming more and more popular each year, making it very difficult to acquire permit passes to hike there. When I was presented with the opportunity through a program at my university to backpack to the falls in early february, and even though I have very little backpacking experience and it was still winter season here in northern arizona, I had to take it.

Packing for the trip was pretty difficult since I had to make sure I stayed warm but also not wanting to overload myself with too much gear.

Hiking to Havasupai falls is something I’ve dreamed of for years, and whenever you look up pictures of the falls you see beautiful lush greenery everywhere in the canyon surrounding the falls. I knew this would not be the case for me, so to be honest going into the hike I assumed it wouldn’t be a very popular time of year for people to hike this. I was very wrong. Even in early february the parking lot at the trailhead was jam packed. 

The first mile and a half, is a very steep descent into the canyon, this proved very difficult for me since my legs had yet to adjust to the weight and stabilization of carrying a 35 pound backpack. But after the descent its smooth sailing, you hike along the flatbed of the canyon for 9 miles until you reach the town of Havasupai. Another piece of the trip I wasn't expected was how beautiful the hike in the canyon was. I was so excited to see these beautiful falls, it hadn’t occurred to me what the hike itself to get there would look like. It was absolutely gorgeous and kept the 9 mile trek interesting.

Through the 9 miles in the canyon, we’d occasionally get some snow, which sounds terrible but there’s no wind and you stay pretty warm from working so hard. It was actually quite beautiful, but did concern us about the weather conditions at camp.

When we got to the town of Havasupai, we stopped and breaked for a little while getting our permits checked in and wrist bands, and then started the final descent to the falls and camp. From town you hike 2 miles to get to the campsites, right before enter in the campsites you pass over Havasu Falls. Images can’t even come close to depicting the grand scale of the falls, you hike above the falls with seer cliffs going down to the water. In Between havasu falls and mooney falls is about a mile stretch of campsites with turquoise rivers weaving in and out of tent sites.

When we arrived to camp it immediately started snowing again. We pitched our tent right on the river and hung up our hammocks in the trees. A majority of the trees around camp were unfortunately dead this time of year and we could only imagine how beautiful the green trees in the warmer months would look. But that being said, the beauty of this place was not hindered by that at all. The red dirt and crystal clear blue waters were breathtaking.


The first night it definitely dipped below freezing, even with a 0° sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner it’s not comfortable being that cold. The next morning was definitely brisk but everyone was too excited about the hike to the other two falls to care. We ate breakfast, packed our day packs and set off for Mooney Falls.

Mooney falls only happened to be a couple hundred feet away from our tent since we were at the very far end of the campsites. Again, when approaching the falls you arrive at the top of Mooney falls which is even bigger and more grand than havasu falls. The descent down to the bottom of mooney falls is definitely frightening. I had heard stories and warnings of the climb down but nothing prepared me for the actual downward climb. You first climb through a couple of caves, then climb almost completely vertical holding onto chains drilled into the side of the cliff, and ladders that are free standing (warning do not make the mistake of leaning back on the ladders like I did, they are not attached to the cliff walls). Once we made it to the ground I wanted to kiss it, I have never felt so accomplished. The waterfall was even more beautiful than I had imagined, and the water was actually warmer the the air around us at this point in the morning so we all got in the water and had a great time, it only sucked when we had to get back out in the cold air. We then started our 2 mile journey to beaver falls, this was probably the only part of the trip I was even a little disappointed with, because there was a ton of foliage and it was all dead. So it would have been prettier to see in the summer but it was still a nice easy hike. Throughout the two miles you hike alongside the beautiful turquoise river and cross the river a handful of times get to see a lot of mini waterfalls.

Right before you get to Beaver Falls, you have the option of going through the water to get to the falls or climbing up the rocks and back down on the other side to get there. We chose to climb up to get there because it was still fairly chilly outside.

Once we got to Beaver falls the sun was directly above the canyon which made it so warm. We estimated it was probably in to 50°s so we ate lunch, played in the water, and hammocked for a while until the sun went back behind the canyon walls, then it was time to head back to camp. The climb back up to the top of Mooney Falls was not nearly as scary as coming down but it definitely gets your heart rate up still.

After grabbing a snack at camp we headed back up the campsites and hiked down to the bottom of Havasu Falls, which is a walk and not a climb unlike Mooney Falls. The water was still surprisingly warmer than the air, so the warmth was welcomed and we got in and swam for a little more. There are all sorts of smaller waterfalls at Havasu Falls which were so much fun to explore all of them. There are even picnic tables out in the water at the base of the falls, and in some hidden caves. After the exploring was over and the sun started to go down we headed back to camp to dry off and warm up before it was dark.

The second night wasn’t as nearly as cold as the first which was great, but it would’ve been nice to have a campfire, but they are prohibited in down in the grand canyon. We had a very early morning the next day since we had to pack up and head out. We got up at 5 a.m. so we had plenty of time to hike out that day, but it was still pitch black out and really cold outside of our warm sleeping bags and tents. We had everything packed up and ready to go by time the sun came up and we started our journey out of the grand canyon. The first couple miles to town were very difficult since they were pretty steep uphill and our bodies were still adjusting to our packs, and at this point everyone had bruises and blisters, so our bodies were pretty worn down, but once we got past the town, the next 9 miles the the base of the canyon was fairly easy again. We made sure to take plenty of breaks this time because we knew the last mile and a half climbing back up the canyon were going to be brutal, and it was. My advice it to take it very slow and break when you need to, preferably in shade. On a positive note, it is only a mile and half, which only a tiny fraction of the hike so it was doable. Once you accomplish the grueling last mile and you reach the top you will feel so accomplished and you will be greeting with a beautiful view of the canyon.

Watson Lake Retail Shoot

This was the first of many shoots I did for my Senior Capstone. I have always had a passion for adventure, so when I had the opportunity to create a project of my choosing I decided to take my love for the outdoors and combine it with the challenge of commercial photography. My original goal was to focus on retail and product, but the focus quickly shifted on to the grandscapes of these beautiful locations with the products as more of an accent in the photograph. Every shoot I did for this project took days or even weeks of planning, travel, and models whom I styled specifically for each photograph. Some of the locations featured were right here in flagstaff and others took hiking 11 miles into the grand canyon or driving 10 straight hours into the rockies. But when it’s something you love it all seems worth it. My aim for this project was to inspire people to get out and explore, whether it’s a walk around flagstaff or a road trip to Utah because our earth has so much to offer.

Monument Valley, AZ/UT

White Sand Dunes National Monument, NM

Telluride Adventures

Sedona Camping Trip

Lockett Meadow Camping

4th Of July

The Faces of Cuba | Las Caras de Cuba

For two weeks, I had the privilege to roam the streets of Havana and Trinidad, learn the fascinating history of the Cuban people, and experience the colors, tastes, and sounds of the Cuban culture. This being my first trip outside of the United States, what intrigued me the most were the people. I have never witnessed a population of people that are so impoverished yet so joyful and content with life. On many occasions I was awestruck by the level of generosity I was shown by the people of Cuba. Despite the effects tourism is having on the locals, I felt so welcome. The people were fascinated by us students and loved talking with us; they invited us into their homes for coffee and delicious meals leaving very little for themselves, the Cuban people. My goal this trip was to focus on street photography specifying in portraits. I wanted to photograph a wide enough variety people to effectively portray their humbling emotions and beautiful culture through the Faces of Cuba.

Women's march, downtown Flagstaff

Jan. 21st

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Estes & Rocky mountain national park

Jan. 14th

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