A trip diary and an uncharacteristic public outpouring of gratitude

My husband and I just got home from backpacking Havasupai Falls. The exhausting 20 mile round-trip trek into and out of the Grand Canyon was worth every step (even though I currently walk like the kid in Jurassic Park after he got electrocuted on the fence).

I ran out of superlatives before we even reached the water.

Descending into the canyon at sunrise

Descending into the canyon at sunrise

Tree of life

Tree of life

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"The Watchers"

These rock formations overlooking the small town of Supai are called “the Watchers.”


I have never been so awed by Earth’s majesty:

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Havasu Falls, 100′ high

Of late, I haven’t been doing all that well, spiritually. (Call it a minor case of Pavilionitis.) But for three days this week, I was completely overwhelmed by the magnificence of God’s creation.

Mooney Falls, 196' high

Mooney Falls, 196′ high

Inside the campground

Human for size reference

Human for size reference

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I swam in a turquoise oasis by day, tearfully viewed billions of stars by night, and clung to an almost desperate prayer of gratitude the entire time: Gratitude to God for creating such a beautiful place, gratitude to my friends for inviting me to see it, gratitude for a strong, capable body to carry me there, and gratitude to the Havasupai (“people of the blue green water”) tribe for sharing this incredible treasure.

Sounds among the vales and hills,

In the woods and by the rills,

Of the breeze and of the bird,

By the gentle murmur stirred –

Sacred songs, beneath, above,

Have one chorus: God is love.



  1. Stunning! And what a great way to interpret this hike in the context of your own life.

  2. Nizhoni! (Beautiful!)

  3. Amen!

  4. I recommend the South Kaibab as well – the Canyon is amazing.

  5. Absolutely beautiful Jessie.

  6. Delux24/7 says:

    Been there. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Certainly God’s majesty on full display and a spiritual place all at once.

  7. You just broke my envy meter.

  8. Mark B. says:

    Well, that settles plans for my next vacation.

  9. Natalie says:

    I did the same hike with my family and family friends at age 15. I didn’t appreciate it quite as much at the time but I look back and feel amazed that I was given such a special experience by my father. The waterfalls are just breathtaking. Thank you for sharing these photos!

  10. Looks like you found the answer to D&C 121:1

  11. Jason K. says:

    Beautiful pictures and beautiful words–but above all I’m glad to know you were spiritually fed.

  12. Observer says:

    Great write-up and pictures! Havasupai really is an awesome place in every sense of the word.

    I will never forget my first hiking trip out of Havasupai. After having spent a couple days in that Eden-like place I hiked out of the canyon nigh unto exhaustion as I ascended that last brutal mile up the cliff face to the parking lot. Being physically humbled to the dust (almost literally), I know I was more attune to things of the Spirit, because as I played Handel’s ‘Worthy is the Lamb’, NEVER have I been before or since so moved by a piece of music that testified of the reality of the Creator who created the very canyon I hiked out of!

  13. Observer says:

    Note: For sake of clarity, meant to mention I played the music piece through my car stereo as I drove away from the canyon.

  14. Lovely. I have often felt these feelings while being in nature. For a while I would go to Zion National Park on general conference weekends. It was what my soul needed to be fed at the time.

  15. Peter LLC says:

    The American Southwest is a great treasure. Thanks for the reminder.

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