The Confluence

“You can hear the water crashing a mile away when the wind is right, and the view from above is breathtaking. This crystal-clear, turquoise-blue water gets lost in the red-brown muddiness of the Colorado. It’s all very symbolic to the Havasupai, and the Navajo, and it’s why we say this is the Heart of the Grand Canyon. The pure waters borne from the sacred earth embody the Havasu spirit. The water shares its purity with an individual people before losing its clarity mixing into the drabness of everyday earthly things.”

— Butterfly Boy, Jim Aarons

“You and Rory can relax at Beaver Falls if you want, while Ellen and I look for the confluence trail. It’s only 10:30, you know. We still have all day.”

With that, they continued, but after Mooney Falls, the trail became tougher, hugging the western wall of the canyon.

“What are those ladders?” Rory asked spotting a network of ladders reaching halfway up the canyon wall.

“They go to the historic burial site of the Havasupai,” Katie replied. They were making excellent time for a while, walking over wobbly wooden bridges and planks. But then the stream became too demanding.

“I’ll be goddammed!” Rory exclaimed when a bend in the path cleared a downward view. “That’s a palm tree! I’m sure it doesn’t belong there, does it, Ellen?”

Laughing she shook her head. “Legend says a visitor in the 1970s was eating dates and threw his seeds on the ground, and eventually the tree took root. That’s the best I have.”

“Well, that’s pretty annoying. They should be able to come up with a better story than that.”

“You know, there was something else about the palm tree in my guide book,” Ellen said. “René, can you dig the book out of my pack, it’s in the top flap.”

He handed her the book; she flipped through the pages. “Yep, here it is. Once you get to this tree, you’ll have two options to get to Beaver. You can cross the creek again to a trail leading along the stream to the upper falls at Beaver, or you can take a right up to the wall and climb higher on the bank towards Beaver. If you take this route, turn left when you see the sign for the falls and hike down a network of ladders to the lower section of the falls. That’s the one we should take. It’ll bring us to the picnic table, we can all have lunch, and René and I will continue on the trail to the river.”

“There it is!” Katie said, pointing to a path down the rocky slope to Beaver Falls. They made their way to a series of the semi-circular terraces where Havasu Creek bubbled and churned from one level to the next. Travertine ledges at the front of each fall held the water back to depths of two, three, and four feet before allowing the water to cascade into the bowl beneath it, offering plenty of placed to soak in the warm water.

“This is perfect for me, I’m staying right here,” Katie exclaimed as she removed her pack and stretched her arms. She helped Rory with his, rummaging through it to find the sandwiches Ellen made. “Rory, I’m happy here. Do you want to go on with Ellen and René? I’ll be okay, and you should see the river. I can take care of myself for a few hours.”


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The Confluence: Butterfly Boy, Chapter 33

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