In the realm of travel, a common refrain is that, thanks to the Internet, there are no undiscovered places left on the planet. That belief morphs more and more into truth with each passing day. Unfortunately, cities, islands, and points of interest that were once unturned stones have become unbearable tourist attractions.
Luckily, adventure travelers have an advantage that others don’t. Anyone can get on a plane and land on a Caribbean island, but no matter how much someone talks about that place deep in the wilderness, few have what it takes to make the journey. In this sense, I’ve simply changed my way of thinking. I’ve stopped beating myself over the head looking for places no one knows about. Instead, I’ve begun looking for beautiful places that are a complete pain in the ass to get to. I don’t expect to be the only one there, but I know that when I arrive, I’ll respect everyone I see for their efforts.
This led me to the Grand Canyon, specifically Havasu Falls, which required a flight to Phoenix, a five-hour drive to the Canyon, and an eleven-mile hike in the hundred-degree heat. I stood at the base of Havasu Falls, my shirt suctioned to my chest from the sweat. It is without question one of the country’s best oases, spilling milky, turquoise water down the canyon with the same swagger as the chocolate that flows through Willy Wonka’s famous factory.
Still, despite its smile-inducing beauty, I was not satisfied. The Havasupai Tribe has become savvier with its approach to tourism in recent years, and new agreements with helicopter and tour operators have allowed many to swim in its waters who cannot physically handle the hike.
Good for them, but this told me all I needed to know: I was not done hiking.