Heavenly Falls – Havasu

5 03 2017

It’s only a few months ago that I came to know about the amazingly beautiful Havasu falls close to Grand Canyon. My love for waterfalls meant that I had to visit these for sure. The catch though is that since it’s part of Indian reservation area, one needs to apply for and get a permit. This process itself isn’t very easy, usually requiring one to contact the office through phone, which would be too busy to be reached at, requiring one to try at least for a few days to succeed.  I heard that, given the popularity of the falls, the permits for the whole season would be finished with days of opening the reservations for the year (Feb 1st).   It’s a 10 mile hike to the falls, which is not bad. However, day hiking is absolutely not permitted and you have to either camp in the campground, just beside the falls or stay at the lodge in the Supai village, two miles from the falls. When I gathered all this information, I decided that I wouldn’t want to do it alone, uncomfortable with dealing with all the hassle myself. Luckily, some of the people I met through a meetup planned for backpacking to Havasupai this year and I was super delighted. After several members of the group calling the office for a couple of days, it was discovered that they have opened up online applications for the permits this year. Hurray! The permit was obtained and we were all set to go. The timing too was perfect for me.  It was as if the entire universe conspired to make me go.

Since rain was forecasted during that time, I tried to prepare my backpack for rain and wetness. I thought 25lb is a good weight. I’m a newbie to the backpacking world, having done only a couple of short weekend backpacking trips earlier.  But I don’t know why, the hike down was challenging. Maybe the backpack wasn’t fit properly or maybe the last few extra pounds were too heavy for me. The 10 miles seemed to stretch forever. Especially the last 2-3 miles.

We started on the hilltop at around 10 am. It was cold and windy at the top. The first 2 miles was downhill, not as steep as I have imagined. The rest of the hike was all flat, with only minor elevation changes. Given the forecast of rain, I dressed myself in weird suit and poncho for the hike. I’m sure I looked hilarious, like someone from a science-fiction movie. 😉 The weather was pleasant for the hike notwithstanding the rain and showers on and off along the way.

We reached the village after about 8 miles  where we got our wrist bands at the registration office. These we had to wear throughout our stay. The campground is a little over two miles from the village.

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Entering the Supai village

We came across Little Navajo Falls and Fifty Foot Falls along the way beyond the village. We went back the next morning to savor the beauty of these falls in leisure. They are truly spectacular.

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Little Navajo Falls in the front; Fifty Foot Falls at the back

But of course  the true stars of the show are Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.  When I first glimpsed Havasu Falls, just before reaching the campground, my reaction was one of unbelievability.  They were totally ethereal.

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Havasu Falls

It was dusk by the time we setup our tents in the campground. Despite the fatigue, we couldn’t resist a quick trip to the falls. We relished the cool aquamarine looking water to our heart’s content. I especially cherish the moments when a few of us visited the falls in the dark. It’s just the cloudless dark sky, falls and absolute silence except the roaring water. Bliss.

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To be continued in the next post.





Wardrobe routine

22 02 2017

One day: Wow, look at all these amazing pieces of clothing and accessories I have. I can wear this or this or that one today. Looks like I have a whole range of stuff to wear for days coming. I don’t have to shop for at least a few years. I have more than enough. I feel blessed!

Another day: What can I wear today: to suit my mood, weather, depending on level and nature of social interaction anticipated during the day, to go with the new set of accessories I absolutely have to wear today, something I haven’t donned on in at least the last 2 weeks, a different color and style from the ones I wore over the past few days, …. This wardrobe is useless. I can’t find anything suitable. Damn!

 





Awesomeness

17 02 2017

Awesome. An overused word. Perhaps one of the most.

I read/heard somewhere a long time ago that using “awesome” a little too much is a sure sign of one’s lame vocabulary. It need not and shouldn’t be used as a one-size-fits-all adjective to describe anything positive. The message is  – fight the urge to use it everywhere, get a grip and summon up the appropriate adjective from the depths of your vocabulary pool instead. It totally makes sense. But time and again I find myself lapsing and using the “a” word too much.

So, what can we use instead? In my opinion, adjectives are the most beautiful words in any language. The English language provides us with plethora of adjectives for all occasions. I know old habits die hard! But there’s hope. So, let’s start small.

To appreciate someone’s work:

  • Good/Great job
  • Excellent
  • Brilliant
  • Impressive
  • Outstanding

To admire nature/beauty:

  • Beautiful (simple, isn’t it?)
  • Stunning
  • Breathtaking
  • Splendid
  • Lovely

Expressing awe:

  • Awe-struck
  • Mind blowing
  • Magnificent
  • Wonderful
  • Fantastic

So, what about “awesome”? It’s a real word. isn’t it? What’s the appropriate use of it? It means “something that inspires awe”. So, it has its legitimate use. But, maybe, just to compensate its overuse all around, let me use its other synonyms instead for a while. 😛 ( I actually need the solemn looking hand over chin thinking emoji here! )





Free fall

13 02 2017

Skydiving was something that I never even envisioned myself trying. The first time I’ve seen some pictures of people appeared to be floating in the sky ( of course they weren’t floating, but falling. Fast. ) with bulky parachute bags on their backs, I couldn’t believe that it could be a sport. And then years later, I have had my friends/acquaintances tried it with tandem and saw their videos. It didn’t seem like such a far-fetching and impossible proposition at all.

So, one day I decided to try it and included it in my bucket list. So far so good. When I first mentioned my intention to my husband, he looked at me as if I was crazy, like I said I’m going to commit suicide or something. Ha! Anyways, years passed and the moment finally came when I just went ahead booked an appointment.

How did I feel about it before? I suspected that I would have that falling down to death feeling (sometimes experienced in dreams). And I was a little nervous about that. I read through others’ experiences and prepared as much as I could.

What freaked me out the most was signing the waiver form. It lists all the possible ways that things can go wrong, be it the fault of the tandem instructor or the equipment or just about anything under the sun, absolving everyone involved from lawsuits by the jumper, or most likely his/her survivors. I’m sure anyone who reads it all, word by word, would definitely panic.

It was a cold and cloudy January day. The waiting area was freezing. Ours was the final jump for the day, promising nice views of the sunset.

The prep was reassuring and then we all are in the flight. I (+ my instructor. We are a single unit by now) was the second one to jump. Seeing the person before me tumble out of the door was a little unnerving.

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Moments later my turn came and my instructor pushed us into the oblivion. Within a few seconds we were stabilized. The first thing that struck me was how windy it was. Strong cold wind blowing in my face.

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In the brief 15 seconds of free fall that followed, I was surprised to realize that I didn’t feel any death threat. It was ok. Once the parachute was on, it was super fun. Time to enjoy the views.

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That definitely was a unique experience. Will I do it again? Umm..while I wouldn’t pursue it again in anyway, if an opportunity comes up or situation demands ( 😉 ) or my craziness strikes me again , maybe. Who knows! The only thing that’s sure is that I wouldn’t take it up as a sport. I’m too risk averse and conventional to do so. 😛





The cool factor

8 02 2017

“That’s cool.”

“He’s cool.”

Person 1: “I have done/seen something”

Person 2: “Cool”

“Cool” is one of those new-age slang terms that fascinate me. The way it’s used in varied circumstances and to mean different things.

The urban dictionary presents come cool interpretations of this cool word (pun intended):

  • Popular
  • Awesome
  • Laid back, relaxed
  • Very good, stylish, neat, pleasing, generally positive
  • Nice
  • Okay with each other (not nice, not mean)
  • Used when the conversation goes silent
  • Used when you don’t know what else to say,
  • Used when you are not interested in a conversation
  • Used when you do not know anything about the subject but want to appear as a know-it-all

Wow, look at that! Have you noticed the contradictions? It can mean either “nice”, or just “okay”. It can mean “awesome”, or just “nice”. And it’s especially intriguing to note its role as a conversation filler. So many connotations. Needless to say, it would be almost impossible to interpret the intention behind this word correctly without the tone and other non-verbal cues and in come cases lot of context.

I’m particularly interested in exploring its use with people. A person is cool if he’s perceived as relaxed and laid back. Or if he/she has a confident, or don’t care attitude. It can also mean that the person possesses some admirable traits. This implies that there cannot be a definitive set of traits that define coolness. They differ based on circumstances: in one setting a person who expresses his emotions and vulnerabilities can be deemed as cool by  his peers, whereas in another setting, the person who holds up a facade in the midst of turbulence is considered cool. Also a cool “guy” usually has totally different traits compared to a cool “gal”.

Here is a quote from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl on “cool girl”:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, …, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want.”

In effect, coolness is anything desirable. You perceive someone is cool if that person possesses those qualities that you desire. Someone is also cool if they have traits and exhibit behavior that you wish you have it in yourself (courage, candidness, confidence, charm etc.). Since desirability is highly subjective, so is what constitutes being cool.

Such a versatile word! Very convenient. 🙂





Wastefulness

6 02 2017

Of late, I’m reminded of “Total Quality Management” concept I’ve studied years ago. It’s fascinating and involves improving efficiency by eradicating waste, among other things. It is this aspect of waste I’m concerned about now. In day to day life, I aim for efficiency too, by being frugal with my resources. While I admit that I don’t definitely set an example, I like to be careful with my spending and generally evaluate the utility of whatever I expend. Despite my best efforts, I realize from time to time that there’s a lot of unnecessary and wasteful consumption/ expenditure. It takes different forms.

Things, which seem very attractive and useful at the time of buying seem meaningless soon after. Items are bought on impulse or with some deliberation, and then ignored once unpacked. Or cast away after only a perfunctory use. Whenever I keep coming across such things at home, I’m baffled afresh and vow not to indulge in such meaningless and wasteful behavior in future. But it seems like, how much ever I try there is still room for improvement. I would think a radical lifestyle change aka adoption of minimalism can address this. But isn’t it such a big deal? A radical mindset change. Sigh!

And then there are other kinds of wastefulness. Late charges induced by missed deadlines, premium paid to accommodate lack of pre-planning,  sub-optimal and sometimes irrational expenses that can result from endless procrastination, opportunity costs involving missed deals/discounts: where’s that coupon when you need it? And of course, there’s also sheer negligence or lack of knowledge/information that can result in some wasteful expenditure. So many factors.

I wonder how much of costs is wasteful. Depending on circumstances, I guesstimate it be anywhere between 10% to 25%. Or at least, it feels like 25%. Oh my god, that’s more than my savings. 😐

I congratulate myself on saving a few bucks here and there by being really frugal and wiser in my shopping decisions. But then suddenly I face myself losing a larger sum to something or the other. Oh, the despair I feel at those times! Everything feels like a sham. Life is unfair. In many cases, I’m aware of the lapses even while they are happening. But I can only watch helplessly as the ball gets rolling. Nevertheless, I keep trying to learn lessons, be vigilant, and reduce the waste. But I quickly realized that it takes a tremendous effort to fuss about each and everything, which ultimately affects my happiness levels. Being wasteful doesn’t definitely make me happy. Neither does micro-managing. I’m damned either way.

So, I have decided to come up with a rule that defines the acceptable levels of wastefulness. I have figured that it’s easier to accept the fact (or fiction) that some level of squandering and irrational behavior is an integral part of life than to attempt to completely eradicate it. Peace be onto me! (Note: I’m still debating with myself on the right percentage. Any help appreciated!)

To any purist out there, who can perfectly manage his/her life and purse, my confessions here might seem silly and childish.  By all means, roll your eyes. With all due respect, I stand on my stance that non-purists, like me, need to come up with some strategies for peaceful survival. 😛





Hiking in Sunol

30 01 2017

It was a bright and sunny Saturday. Perfect for a hike. It was Sunol Regional Wilderness the chosen venue. Lush and wet from recent rains. Another Indian Adventurers of Bay Area meetup event. Though, I must say that, the organizer prefers to communicate via email and likes to keep the planning, the participants, and the actual hike itself in a close knit aka on a tight leash. 🙂

As soon as I turned onto I-680, I saw everything shrouded in thick mist, giving rise to misgivings about the impending activity. But as I drove through and past it, all was clear and bright again. 🙂 Nature, being mischievous I guess. 🙂

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The long winding drive on Calaveras Rd seems never ending for the first timers and there’s absolutely nowhere to pull aside. Just stay put, you can’t miss the park entrance on your left when coming from Fremont.

There’s a $5 entrance fee to the park. As soon as you pass the kiosk, you can see a trail to your right and cars parked to your left.  Don’t stop there and take the trail unless you have a permit to hike the Ohlone Wilderness Trail which takes you to Mission Peak. Instead drive past and take right at the fork.

The original plan was to hike along Indian Joe Creek, which requires one to do multiple creek crossings. But it was evident right away, even with the first glance at the roaring creek, that it’s not a wise idea at this time. Perhaps, Summer is a better time to indulge in its beauty . 🙂

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So instead we headed towards Canyon View Trail, onto Backpack Road, up McCorkle Trail, onto Cerro Este Road, Cave Rocks Road, Eagle View Road … Well, I’ll stop right there. It seems like we took a twisted and elaborate path. I couldn’t have figured out myself. I was blindly following the organizer. I think no one can disagree that there’s a sense of comfort in following a capable and knowledgeable leader, without worrying about anything. 😛 After the hike, he kindly traced the path we followed on the map for me.

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On Canyon View Trail, we had splendid views of the creek. We could hear the roar of the water all along.

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View of 3 peaks – Monument Peak, Mount Allison, Mission Peak

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Calaveras Reservoir view. A new dam is being constructed to replace the historic one and Calaveras Rd is closed between Geary Rd (the park entrance) to Oakridge Rd.

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The park at this time is laden with small creeks.

 

Also ponds.

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And cattle. What does ponds and grazing cattle have in common? They make beautiful candid pictures, when together 🙂

 

On the way back, we stopped at Little Yosemite. It was beautiful and serene. Not too crowded.

Foolish attempt to feel the water. It was freezing cold!

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All in all, we made about 9 miles. Thanks again to meetup and the wonderful event organizers for the opportunity. Hiking in small groups is always fun. Good exercise, great conversations!