Author Archives: Brandon Hayes

National Park Units of Lower Manhattan: Stonewall National Monument

Early afternoon on February 28 Sean and I wandered over to the West Village to our second National Park unit of the day: Stonewall National Monument, which was established by President Barack Obama in 2016 as the first LGBTQ+ National Park site. The National Monument honors a key catalyzing event in the burgeoning gay rights movement of the late 1960s, the June 28, 1969 raid by New York City police of The Stonewall Inn, a mafia-owned gay bar, and the six nights of riots that followed as LGBTQ+ New Yorkers fought back, led by homeless gay youth and transexuals, many of whom were people of color. While not the start of the gay rights movement, nor even the first riot, Stonewall led to an explosion of gay rights organizing across the country as gay people embraced a stance of being out and proud about their sexual orientation.

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National Park Units of Lower Manhattan: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

Sean and I visited New York City the final weekend of February 2020, a time that now feels out of time compared to the indelible history of what was about to happen, indeed what was already happening all but undetected in that city. We were in Manhattan to see a Broadway show, part of Sean’s Christmas present and the culmination of a mindful shift in our gift giving away from things and toward experiences. For both of us it was a return to a city where we have long individual histories, but which we had not visited for quite some time in no small part because our attention had been turned largely West toward the National Parks. Although we were there to see a show, we also visited four National Park Units in Lower Manhattan, testament to the travelers we have become.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: Hiking Out and Further Misadventures

Hualapai Canyon

Wednesday, October 30 we needed to say farewell to our campsite and get all of us, including Rick with his hurt knee, out of Havasu Canyon and up to Haulapai Hilltop ten miles away and some 2,000 feet up. Although our time in the Canyon was ending, our trip would not actually finish until Saturday. We still had some Americana time coming at a Route 66 roadside attraction, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas on Halloween.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: A Day in the Canyon

Mulgullo Point above Carbonate Canyon

Tuesday, October 29 was a quiet day. We mostly took it easy and rested or explored Havasu Canyon areas closer to the campground. We needed to marshal our strength for the big hike back out of the canyon the following day. And we were worried about Rick’s hurt knee. The slower day also afforded us the opportunity to check out the tiny village of Supai, where most Havasupai homes and services in the canyon are clustered.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon (National Park): Down Creek and Down Canyon

Beaver Falls

Monday, October 28 was the first of our two full days in Havasu Canyon. We had hiked in the morning of the previous day for our three nights of camping. Despite the big hike that day, we decided for another big hike this following day: hiking downstream to Beaver Falls and then on to attempt to reach the confluence of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River in the main trunk of the Grand Canyon. From the campground, the confluence is seven miles, so it would be a long, but doable fourteen mile out-and-back. We’d decided to do it this first day because then we’d have a full day to rest before the hike back out of the canyon on Wednesday.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: Havasu Falls

On the afternoon of Sunday, October 27, after our long hike into Havasu Canyon, we wandered from our campsite to have a look at Havasu Falls, the showpiece of the canyon, that in 1974 wasn’t even part of the Havasupai Reservation.

In the summer of 1974, during the darkest days of the Watergate crisis, a bill to enlarge Grand Canyon National Park wound its way through committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation sought to incorporate two National Monuments into the Park, smooth out some of the boundaries, and regulate air traffic above the Park. It also sought to finalize Native American land claims. The bill offered a chance for the Havasupai to reclaim the vast majority of the land taken from them in 1880.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: Descent to Waterfalls

Wesocogame Point (foreground left), Mount Sinyala, the North Rim, and Ukwalla Point

Sunday morning, October 27, we had to be up early for our ten-mile hike into one of the most scenic parts of the Grand Canyon. We wanted to get an early start both to avoid the midday desert heat in the inner canyon and to ensure we got a nice campsite for our subsequent three nights in Havasu Canyon.

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: Above the National Parks

Zion National Park

“Wait, did you quit your job to go to the Grand Canyon?”

I was on a tour bus somewhere in rural North Carolina. Next to me was Steve, the inspiring executive director of a conservation organization in northwestern Illinois. We were in North Carolina for the annual Land Conservation Conference. We’d been on a rainy field trip most of the day and now were on our way back to Raleigh. I had been telling Steve about our upcoming Grand Canyon trip, less than a week after the conference. In thinking through the timeline, Steve realized that I would not be in Chicago for my former employer’s very important event, which he was going to attend. It was the sort of function that a staff member would not dream of missing.

“I won’t necessarily say that I quit my job to go to the Grand Canyon, Steve,” I replied with a grin. “But if you want to spread that rumor, I won’t stop you.”

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Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon: Planning

Havasu Falls

In January 2019, Sean and I received a text from our friend, Rick, in Denver, who wanted to gauge our interest in trying to secure campground reservations in Havasu Canyon sometime that year. I replied almost instantly that we were interested.

Located south of the Colorado River and west of the National Park developments at the South Rim, Havasu Canyon is the largest tributary canyon into the Grand Canyon. It and the plateau lands that surround it are the home of the Havasupai Tribe, who take their name, “People of the Blue-Green Water” from the world-famous waters and waterfalls of Havasu Creek, which flows from a canyon spring to its confluence with the Colorado River. On the way, the creek tumbles over a series of waterfalls, which attract some 25,000 outsiders a year to the tiny reservation village of Supai, population roughly 600.

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Crater Lake National Park: North Rim and Points North from There

It was approaching 1pm on Thursday, September 19 as Sean and I continued along East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park, heading toward the Park’s north entrance and then on to Portland. Because of the early wintry weather that had greeted us at the Park on Monday, we were packing our most spectacular views of the Park into this drive. Our sixteen-day “Shasta” adventure was quickly reaching its end. On Sunday afternoon, we’d be on a plane home to Chicago.

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