Campground dog sleeping outside or tent all night at the Havasupai Reservation

Backpacking out of Havasupai

Saying goodbye is never easy. We found the experience no different when leaving the campground at Havasupai. We rose early to pack our things and begin backpacking out of the canyon before temperatures rose. I found Kumkuat (the honorary name we had given one of the dogs who live here) sleeping outside our tent where he had apparently been all night. Not enjoying our packing he kept trying to distract me lying on top of the tent as I broken it down trying to get me to pet him. He visited everyone while they packed trying to distract them until as we were finishing up he left.

Not eager to leave but concerned about backpacking in the full heat of the sun we set out by 6:30am for the village. The two miles to the village uphill in full sunlight with the packs weighing us down was not an auspicious start to our journey, even though it was cooler this time. We stopped for a short rest on the trail and one last viewing of Havasu Falls, here we were greeted by four sleepy dogs who had chosen the path way as their bed. They took a liking to Alexis became his companions, following him as far as the village. Before we continued on a mule train passed us along the way heading down to pick up their load.

Our last sighting of the Havasupai falls and cascades along the way was a sad and it felt like a final goodbye. As we left this otherworldly place and headed on we knew more adventures were ahead of us but that what we left behind would be sorely missed.

We all struggled through the first two miles of the hike at different paces. Meeting up again at the same village area where we had checked in. A few of our group had stopped to inquire about having mules carry the bags out, but they require 24 hour notice. The general store had frozen Gatorades, other drinks, snacks, and ice cream so we all grabbed a cold treat and continued our trek.

The rest of our journey was a struggle for most of us. Carrying our heavy packs back up out of the canyon. What is easy to forget with the excitement of the journey to Havasu Falls is how the entire path there is either slightly or significantly down hill, and more often than not involved walking on sand or little stones which makes for challenging footing. Leaving as well as having to hike uphill this time had our spirits down a bit. We often split up all moving at our own paces and stopping frequently.

When we started the final ascent, 1.5 miles uphill with switch backs, at this point in midday sun, despite it all we were relieved to be able to see the finish line. We passed frequent travelers and mule trails on this part of the trail.

After our long hike out of the canyon we grabbed snacks from a woman selling chips, candy, drinks, and hot dogs at the top then began the drive to Las Vegas, NV. Vegas was just a stop in our journey to rent a hotel, shower, and eat some real food. Then we would continue on to Zion National Park in Utah.

Lower Navajo Falls on the Havasupai Reservation

A Day at Havasu Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, and New Navajo Falls

For our last full day at the Havasupai Reservation we decided not to plan out our day but let it take us where it would. There are many other trails in the area but we wanted more time to enjoy our stay without rushing to try to see everything. In the morning Rachel, Myle, and I set out to explore the two falls we had seen while hiking into the campground.

First we had breakfast with the group at our campsite. The Havasu Creek ran on both sides of our site and we had beautiful views. A small wooden plank lead us across the Creek on one side and on the other we had a picnic table in the water.

Fifty Foot Falls

Then we hiked up, a bit later than was ideal given the sun and heat, toward the first falls we had seen on our hike in, passing Havasu Falls along the way. In many photos you can see the stunning travertine formations all along Havasu Creek.

A major storm a few years ago changed the waterfalls. Two old waterfalls dried and two new waterfalls were made. This includes Fifty Foot Falls and New Navajo Falls (the first you pass on your way down or last you pass on your way out).

New Navajo Falls

After spending a chunk of time photographing and enjoying Fifty Foot Falls we moved on to New Navajo Falls. These falls appear split in two, the middle doesn’t have any water flowing over the travertine formations any longer.

Here I decided to experiment with a quick conceptual photo. We ended up timing our visit to this falls with a group who was watching their friend propose at the same location. My friend Myle was kind enough to model for me and then I also jumped in a took a few with myself as the model.

Havasu Falls and the Sweat Lodge

On the way back towards the campsite we found the guys hanging out by Havasu Falls. We took a quick group photo but were missing Rachel. She had wandered off by herself towards the village and ended up metting back up with us at Havasu Falls. She had been invited to a spiritual ceremony by one of the locals. We all decided to check it out and headed back up towards the Reservation.

Here Roland Manakaja explained a bit about the reservation and the sweat lodge ceremony to us. They invited us each in groups to sit in the sweat lodge for 10-20 minutes; they don’t keep track of time. During this time you are supposed to sweat out all sickness, they sing healing songs in their native tongue. They only sing four refrains, too many is considered asking too much. They also told stories and explained their stories of coming to this location, being invited by god to kill the first buffalo and how to use it well, loosing the animal tongues, and such. They ended by singing more songs of harvest and the sun and moon. Traditionally they would repeat this experience four days in a row, they now usually do it four times in a row the same day. We all took a turn once, thanked them, and headed back to camp for dinner.

Behr and Ruggles the dogs walking around Middlesex Fells

4/10 at Middlesex Fells

As I mentioned in the previous post, this past Sunday Amanda and I took Behr and Ruggles to hike Middlesex Fells. We had planned to go out Sunday after Saturdays walk but hadn't chosen a location. Earlier in the day Sunday I had been driving by and noticed the waterfall at the Fells. Given the heavy rain that had happened recently I knew that it was likely at a high flow compared to summer and wanted to check it out before it tapered off.

So we headed out and parked on a side street off Washington St in Melrose, MA. We grabbed the dogs and walked right over to the waterfall called The Cascades and hung out for a bit. I took a bunch of photos and we just sat and enjoyed the sound of the water falling.

The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston

We saw a few trails that seem to head up into the park, we decided to take the unmarked trail that looked a bit like stairs heading up towards the top of the falls. Behr was always getting in front of us and had to run back to walk the same ways as us.

The Cascades waterfall at Middlesex Fells Boston
Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

When we reached the top we found the stream that fed the waterfall and it was very small, hard to believe it split over the large rock and fell in so many different directions with any amount of force. We crossed a little bridge and continued our exploration. We found the trails rather quickly and decided to take the paths that always went up.

Behr and Ruggles the dogs walking around Middlesex Fells
Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

We let the dogs run ahead of us so they would pull us up the hills and rocks and they had some fun. We came to a rock with a beautiful view of the Medford, Melrose, Malden areas outside of Boston and stopped for a short rest to enjoy the view.

Amanda and Ruggles the dog hiking Middlesex Fells Boston

We then climbed a few more rock and circled back to the waterfall where we enjoyed a few more quiet moments and headed back home.

Behr the dog walking around Middlesex Fells

This is a quick guess of about where we hiked in the Fells.


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Jenna modeling in the woods on a small waterfall

Bear's Den - Getting Elemental

Towards the end of the summer last year I was getting antsy to take some more conceptual photos with models. Two of my friends, Jacqui and Jenna, both actresses, quickly volunteered and got excited about the photo shoot. They were most excited about being involved in coming up with a concept for the photos and exploring a new hiking spot. It was so easy to move forward with a plan with models as excited about the project as I was. We quickly researched and choose a location. We chooseBear's Den in New Salem, MA, somewhere we had never been before but it wasn't too far away with pretty waterfalls in the woods.

When we reached our destination we were surprised to find even more than we expected! We parked right off a main road and took a quick hike through some woods to a small clearing where there were a few steep paths that lead further into the woods. Once in the woods we found a stream on our right that wrapped around in front of us and to our left where there were large rock formations. By the stream we found the remains of an old foundation. Having planned our concept based on trees, rocks, and waterfalls without having prior knowledge of the foundation we did not include it but it was exciting to find more possibilities than we expected.

We walked around the huge stone formation by the stream and came to the waterfall. The girls started pulling out their dresses and showing me what the possibilities were. The concept we had agreed on ahead of time was elements and they had chosen their clothes with it in mind. We hadn't decided if our concept of elements would juxtaposed the natural landscape or match it. We started with both girls together in a shot each matching a different piece of the landscape, rock and moss. I love the the idea of this shot, but it was early in the day and we we're getting comfortable working together, just warming up. I'm not used to work with two models together either so these didn't end up being my favorite photos. I plan to challenge myself to work more successfully with two models in the same shot.

Models by mossy rocks and trees in the woods
Jacqui modeling by mossy rocks in the woods
Jenna Modeling by a small waterfall and rocks in the woods

Every where we turned there was something new to use for the backdrop of our photos and it was all very close together - we didn't have to walk or carry our things any further! I began to work with each of them individually, and while one was changing I would shoot the other.

Jacqui and Jenna got into it, deciding on their own to jump in the water to get the shot, pointing out to each other things to try or poses they've done before that might work, and when to hold a pose... they almost didn't need me! The lighting was a beautiful soft light, but it was coming from above the trees so to get the right lighting I often had to have the girl looking up especially as it got later in the day.

Jenna modeling by mossy forest floor and tree roots
Jacqui modeling on rocks in the woods

After we tried the group shot, I worked on a few photos with Jacqui that didn't come out quit like I'd thought, still warming up to the shoot, I'd say. We played with her green dress as almost part of the moss and tree tops but I wish I was just a little taller, I'm only 5'3", then I might have gotten the angle I wanted.

Then Jenna and I climbed up the steep hill next to the rocks we had just been playing on to shoot with some exposed roots. Jenna was wearing a red dress to represent fire and against the landscape. Complementary colors and the brilliant hue of the dress made for some striking images. Jenna ended up keeping the dress on for more than one shot. In these photos the destruction of some trees where the power of the roots still held it in place and moss and other plants flourished was a nice balance to the fire red of the dress, destruction to life.

Jacqui modeling on rocks in the woods
Jenna modeling in the woods by small waterfalls and rokcs

Jenna then jumped on top of one half of the water fall in the red dress and we took some awesome shots showing a lot of the landscape. Fire to water, opposite elements quite literally, but also using the movement and shape of the dress to match the soft organic beauty of flow of water against the harsh geometric shape of the rocks. These images embody a lot of what I love to do in my work, subtly juxtaposing different elements.

Jacqui modeling in the water by a small waterfall

Jacqui switched to a brown dress (one image above, more on my FB page: for more of an earthy dirt and soil element against rock and moss. Then she switched into a stunning yellow dress  like the light of the sun and we started playing on the rocks by the waterfall (image above) using the human organic form against the harsh geometric form of the rock, I'm seeing a pattern here. Then Jacqui took the plunge and lay down right in one of the falls like she was climbing up the falls. Here I snapped the only portrait from this shoot and one of my other favorite images. Green life and earth to Stone to Water and Sun. Jacqui also then jumped right in the pool of water above the second falls and we played with her dress under water.

Jacqui modeling in the water by a small waterfall

These are my favorite photos I have taken in recent times, they embody what I love to do with my work, I hope to show you more like this as summer begins, and put even more story behind them in the future. I'm sure you'll see Jenna and Jacqui again.

P.S. be careful carrying lots of things over rocks... I managed to drop my camera, no damage luckily!