Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Pretty Good Canyon (Arizona Series)

(GPS: N36° 03.695 W112° 06.480)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've scheduled this for Thankgiving, and I'll probably re-edit this whole series some when I get home, but I wanted to get this one up by today.

The Grand Canyon is very well known so I don't feel the need to give the whole history or do much explaining on this one. Do a few searches yourself if you need that. In fact, anything I show has probably been shown from cameras/camcorders that have clicked away here millions of times. It was a first time for me though, and that is why I am posting it

After driving out of Supai, we decided to take another two hours to get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.
 My first thought which I said to those I was with was, "It looks like a painting." That's mainly because that is the way I have seen it most of my life in pictures or artwork.
A very powerful wonder of the world! Millions of years of geological history!
We spent about two hours here walking along the South Rim trail.
 A zoom in from the last picture.
I could see the Colorado River below with a bridge and some sort of boat.
The picture above is actually a zoom in. Can you see where that was in the following picture?
After this we ate, and then drove about eight hours home. I had a lot of fun doing this whole trip to Arizona in just about 50 hours of time. It took me ten years since my previous trip to Arizona. I hope to get back there a little sooner. Special thanks to Dean, Danny, and my brother for allowing me to go along since they did all the work making reservations, driving to Supai, and the Grand Canyon National Park.

A Pretty Good Canyon (Youtube Version)

A Pretty Good Canyon (Vimeo Version)

The music taken from used in the video is called Birch Run.

Monday, November 25, 2013

FYI: E-mail

Just a quick FYI message.

Recently, I've had a bunch of "Backscatter Spam" at my e-mail address where a bunch of messages have come back to me that were sent to e-mail addresses that no longer exist. I never sent these messages and looking at the header information shows that they originated from Moscow, Russia. So, my e-mail address appears to have been spoofed or phished for this.

I never send out links without an explanation of why I would do so. So, if you have received one of these messages please just delete it, and please don't click the link which is probably a virus/malware of some sort.

My apologies to those that have received one of these. I know this happens to a lot of people, but it irritates me that this sort of thing happens.

Sorry, and thanks.

EDIT: as of Feb, 2014 I have decided to use a new e-mail for all of this. On the right side of the blog, click "view my complete profile" and then look for the link titled "contact me" and that is it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mooney Falls (Arizona Series)

(GPS: N36° 15.770 W112° 42.530)
Time to wrap up my time in Supai, AZ with the Mooney Falls. After getting some rest on a bed at the lodge I went over to the restaurant and had a burger and fries. It was in the middle of the afternoon that we stuck to the plan of heading back on the trail we took to Havasu Falls and continued to Mooney Falls.

So we passed some of the smaller falls I showed in the lost blog on Havasu Falls. We passed Havasu Falls again as well which looks a little different without the sun. From what I can tell to get the sun to completely wipe out the shadow during the day you really have to be there during the time of the summer where you get the most sunlight.
From here we continued on past the campground where there were a lot of people. There was an animal sound we kept hearing through there too. I'm not sure what animal it was, nor do I completely recall the actual sound. I just remember it went on and on as we went through. We finally saw it about a mile away from Havasu Falls.
It's hard to get the perspective here, but these falls are much bigger than the big Havasu Falls. Can you see the little people just to the left of the falls at the top. Mooney Falls was named after a miner who fell to his death here. Mooney's remains are buried somewhere around here.
A nice drop off. As one moves down it switchbacks some to the base of the falls. There is a small cave you have to go through to get down there.
I got through the cave and I was sort of lucky when I did the video of it that no one was coming from the opposite direction. It did take some work maneuvering down there.
At this point you hold on the chains as you descend. I decided not to do that. Yeah, I was tired, my legs were starting to give a little from all the mileage, but the main factor is there were too many people around. I just didn't have the patience for waiting on everyone. Had I been there earlier in the day I would have done it. So, I just took a picture and video from there instead.
After enjoying these falls we walked back to the lodge, spent the night, got up early, and we were back at the hilltop parking by around 8am. One can take a helicopter out from Supai to the hilltop parking, but it's just cheaper (FREE!) to walk out. The final uphill was really not that bad, but it was still early in the morning and cool which made it a lot easier than in the middle of the day.
I wanted to say a few things before I wrap this part of the trip up about Supai. I didn't mention too much about the history of the Havasupai people that live here. Much as been written about them. In their hstory, they spent part of their life in what we call today the village of Supai (spring, summer, early fall), then spent their winters higher up further to the east. When the white man came there were many disputes over the winter land which a good portion of is in Grand Canyon National Park. Many legal battles took place which finally culminated in a passing and signing of a bill by President Ford allowing them to get their land back in 1975. For more on this please check out the book called, I am the Grand Canyon by Stephen Hirst for the history of the people and their legal dispute.
I've mentioned a few times that this place felt like the Old West to me. Of course, I've been to a lot of Old West areas and been to a lot of the filmed Old West spots, but in the mind of most people these types of rock formations in Arizona are what people think of as the Old West. In the past, I have heard or read people say that this movie location or that one resembles the authentic Old West locations in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas. No, they all resemble the spot they were filmed at. All California movie locations look like...California locations. If you think otherwise, then you are not looking hard enough. There are certain geographical features that always can give away where they are really located. In any case, the isolation in a desert canyon with Arizona's rocks is what really triggered the Old West sensation in me.
I should point out that this area really has not had much filmed on it due to the fact it is an Indian reservation. It turns out that Nicholas Cage and Jessica Biel were here for the movie Next (2007). Cage is a friend to the tribe here so he was able to shoot some scenes of that movie on reservation land. In the movie, they do walk into the village and the restaurant was shown. They then show them walking to Havasu Falls.
A few links if you have further interest:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Havasu Falls (Arizona Series)

(GPS: N36° 15.305 W112 41.875)

While the hike was really fun the major treasure that tourists come to is the falls one can see beyond the village of Supai. We checked into the lodge, but we really could not access our rooms until sometime just before noon. So, we scouted the path to the falls. The idea was to head to the falls and then comeback later. Off we went.
This area has issues with flooding. We saw signs warning us to go to the high areas if that happened. In 2008, the flood diverted the water that runs through this area in such away that what was known as Navajo Falls was no more. The mudslide of that flood ended up creating two new falls instead.
The Havasupai Indians are known as the Havsuw 'Baaja, "people of the blue green waters". The water has a nice turquoise look to it.  
About a mile away from town we reached the first major falls, Havasu Falls. The above picture is looking over the edge into what the falls drop into. BTW, this is not advised, but I'm used to being in these situations so I know my limitations. There were signs that said to stay away from the edge.
The picture above is from the same spot looking into the distance. Further on is Mooney Falls which is another mile or so away.
We were able to head down below. There was a nice mist that came from the falls down here. The day was not super hot, but I could see how great it would be down here on a hot day.
These falls on this trip were some of the biggest I had ever encountered. A very strange sight to see in this desert place. There were people playing around below it. Had I more time and not worried about my cameras I would have gone in there myself.
We rested down here for a while taking in the experience. Then we headed back to the lodge to access our room.

Havasu Falls (Youtube Version)

Havasu Falls (Vimeo Version)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Silence of Supai (Arizona Series)

As we went along the Havasupai Trail it started to get really narrow.
You have to be somewhat alert that the pack animals that come quickly around these corners won't plow over you. We never had that issue, but it was on my mind. Eventually the area opened up.
Eventually, the area opened up and we were almost to the village. It's hard to get the perspective on how big this area is from my pictures. You can see members of my party up ahead and on the left. It was not too far ahead that one of the locals was taking a pack of mules out. I got off the trail, smiled, and told him "good morning"! He said the same to me, and then told me I had about a mile to go to the village. I thanked him and was on my way. Not to be too sterotypical here, but the way he spoke and greeted me was exactly like you might see white man and Indian interactions in old westerns.
As I show pictures of us entering the town here I should say that I did not have many conversations with the locals here. I kind of expected that since the people who live there get flooded with the tourists who are really there to visit the falls beyond the town. It is kind of the way the locals are there, and I was fine with that. Of course, the simple silence I encountered was something I appreciated.
In the above pictures, just ahead and to the the left, there is a store that allowed my companions to get breakfast. We sat down and small dog came over to greet us and allow us to pet it. There were a bunch of horses, mules, and a few dogs around. Most were behind the fences. From there I zoomed in to the two unique rock formations looking down on the town.
These are called the Wii gl'iva. The sentinels or guardian spirits of Supai. There are various stories about these you might read or hear about. One thing you have to do when you enter the town is enter the tourist office to pay your fee on entering the reservation. Since we were not camping, but spending the night in the lodge we ended up paying that fee at the lodge. Around this point while waiting around near the tourist office I saw one of the locals with a pack of mules.
One thing that I did that I thought was really cool was send a post card to myself (and a few others) that was actually sent out on one of these packs. The postmark I added to my picture here. This is one of only two places in the U.S. (the other being also located in the nearby Grand Canyon) where mail is still transported in and out by horses and mule pack. Again, another reason I felt I had glimpses of the Old West here.
This is the local church. I heard people singing here when I went by there a few times since it was Sunday. The lodge we spent the night at is on the right and in the background. I should mention you have to have reservations for the lodge or the campground. There were two beds so we ended up having to share beds. They don't have televisons or phones. It's basic, but we didn't care since we were so tired anyways that evening.

After we checked in we headed off to check out the falls which will be next.

To Supai (Youtube Version)

To Supai (Vimeo Version)

The following music from was used for the video: The North, Thunderhead, Firesong.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hiking the Havasupai Trail (Arizona Series)

From the last blog entry on this we descended from the hilltop and headed north to Supai. The hike to the village is a total of eight miles. Although the sun was not out in full yet, the light was starting to make things a little easier to take a few pictures and video as we went along.
The Havasupai Trail is mostly hiking on dry streambed through a desert. They warn you that you really need to start the hike early in the morning to get it done before the desert heat conditions kick in during the middle of the day. At this point, I felt great with the cool air.
This will come up a few times as I go through this series, but I was reminded of all those old westerns with these type of rock walls on the sides of me.
This little one was with another grazing adult horse. I mentioned we saw about a dozen horses coming down the switchbacks when we started. We encountered more on the way in and out.
Continuing along the streambed. There really wasn't an issue with this for our trip, but during certain times one needs be careful of flash floods around here.
The trail narrowed, and the walls started closing in on us. Again, thoughts of old westerns, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc. flashed in my head through here.
There were some interesting looking rock formations as we went along:
Continued in the next blog in this series.

To Supai (Youtube Version)

To Supai (Vimeo Version)

The following music from was used for the video: The North, Thunderhead, Firesong.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hualapai Hilltop (Arizona Series)

(GPS: N36 09.615 W112 42.595)
It looks like I'm not going to be around for Thanksgiving and won't have normal access to the internet so I am going to take care of this series this week. This was a special trip out of state for me to Arizona. I have been to Arizona before, but had never been here before at all. My brothers friends were in charge of this one in making the arrangements. So, other than covering the fees and going along I didn't have to do too much other than hike and enjoy the scenery.
After everyone coordinating their schedules and took the necessary days off work, we ended up heading to the north of Arizona around 11pm on a Saturday night. I was in the back of the SUV trying to get some sleep. I'm not sure I ever did; I felt like I was in a trance more than actually getting sleep. I remember being 100% conscious for sure at Kingman, AZ as we got gas. From there we were on Route 66 for an hour or so. Finally, we ended up on Indian Route 18 which is about 60 miles from Hualapai Hilltop.
At this point, it was somewhere between 3:30am to 4:00am. Looking outside I could not see very far in the distance so I could not really tell what the terrain was like. One of the issues one faces going through this area on this road out to the middle of nowhere is the cattle that can cross the road around here. We did encounter a few horses or mules just hanging around the road near the end. So, you have to drive a little slower as you travel this road.
The area really did seem isolated from civilization since no other cars at all were on this road coming in or out as we did this. Off on my left, miles away, I saw some mysterious lights at one point. It had that UFO vibe to it, but I'm sure there is a more reasonable explanation since I could not see too well due to the darkness.
The funny thing though is after the final hour of driving this road you end up at the parking lot of Hualapai Hilltop, and the parking lot is filled with a lot of cars. So, after being isolated on that road for an hour we found out we really weren't alone after all at the final parking destination. We didn't see any people roaming around at the parking lot. Most were already where we were heading, but some were probably sleeping in their cars.  
The following pictures are the way it is at the top of Hualapai Hilltop. I took this when we got back the next day at around 8am. When we were here just before 5am we got our hiking gear ready, used the restroom (which I really had to use after this all night driving trip), and then figured out where the trail was. The area was still very dark so I didn't even bother taking pictures. I did try to do a little video here, but it is not worth posting.

So, you have to imagine it was still dark, but enough light had come in where I could actually see the bottom here. At the time I was thinking how far down that looked! It looked really far, but once we started going down it didn't seem that bad. The thing was I knew we would be hiking back up here the next day, and that is when most of the work would happen.
As far as the maps are concerned this is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, but it is part of that region so it does have that look to it from above.
So the journey began as we headed down and then to the right about eight miles to get to the Havasupai Indian village: Supai.
Down below and looking back. The trail from above had switchbacked and forth for about a 1,000 ft. to this point. Not too far from the beginning at the top we encountered our first roaming horses. I didn't bother taking pictures, but I did take video footage of them as we carefully tried to maneuver past them since they seemed a lot more wild than tame. They were headed on down too. While I have encountered horses (usually with riders or behind fences) before this was the first point that I really felt like I had entered the Old West.
Almost everything from here on out was at the bottom of the canyon floor with very little elevation change. I moved forward a few hundred feet and then turned to my right (north). I'll continue this in the next blog.
The following music from was used for the video: The North, Thunderhead, Firesong.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Hello November! (Black Star Canyon Halloween Postscript)

So now that the Halloween fun is over and we are heading to the brighter holidays I wanted to make a few points in closure before I move on to other things.

I was on top of Mt. Baldy about two months ago. The clouds had completely covered the area so you could not see anything below or that far away. There were probably about 30 people on the summit since it is a rather big summit. I was talking to friends, but then I heard this:

“Does Black Star Bill still live in that canyon?”
I knew exactly what this guy and his group were talking about. I didn’t say anything other than look at someone else from my group that looked at me and laughed. Of course, “Black Star Bill” has not lived in Black Star Canyon for over 13 years now. Yet, somehow his legendary name (and the image of a shotgun owning squatter in Black Star Canyon that is implied) keeps coming up in the oddest of places.

When I first blogged about Black Star Canyon years ago I explained some of what I thought was really going on there. Since that time I have received lots of e-mail about people’s experiences, stories, and such with that place. Now I have to admit, of all the e-mail I have received about things on this blog these would be the strangest. Not everyone, but some of that group are a little out there to say the least. The Coast to Coast AM and Art Bell audience that has mind altering substances running through them.

No matter how politely (or forcefully) one tries to correct misinformation on the internet there is a tendency for it not to go away. If you get enough of a crowd that believes the misinformation over facts then the misinformation will continue to linger as “truth”. Because of that, I’m afraid this region is in one of those situations that the lines between fiction and reality are always going to be blurred. That was really the point of my series.
That is not really the way I like things, but after a while of saying the same things over and over to people that won’t listen it becomes something like, “just give people what they want.”

That’s what I am afraid the History Channel has become. I‘m not much of a fan of documentaries these days since they are almost the same as “reality“ TV. From someone who has learned a lot about video editing in the past few years, I can say it is really easy to manipulate footage to say almost anything you want. CNN recently ran something that I am very well acquainted with, and boy did they really put one over on the public. In that case, it was not so much that the documentary was lying about everything, but a lack of context and putting things in perspective was seriously missing. As a result of this, it is very easy to rile people up who lack critical thinking skills.

One thing I sometimes hear and have thought about myself since I was kid is the idea, “I wish we just had a video (or pictures) of that event” so we can know what happened. As if everything from historical events, alleged miracles, car accidents, etc. could be verified this way. The idea is eyewitnesses are unreliable, but pictures and video are reliable. With Photoshop, Sony Vegas, and other editing software programs I’m not so sure about that.

On the reality side of things regarding Black Star Canyon, they have actually cleaned up the canyon a lot since I started going there. In the video I put together one can see the bus in the ditch is no longer there. It was taken out over a year ago. Some of the huge containers were taken out, the tractor is gone, and the residential property back in the canyon have been cleaned up as well. It has lost a little of its mystique because of that which is disappointing, but it is understandable why that had to be done.

On the semi-fictional side, or "reality" TV side of things, there was a SyFy Channel episode of a paranormal TV series called Haunted Highway that dealt with something called the “Shadow Men” in Black Star Canyon. One of the investigators is Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy Osbourne. The second half of the episode dealt with Black Star.!watch/382485

Apart from the time they spent at the gate and driving around, I am not exactly sure where they were for that episode. What they were calling “Hidden Ranch” is not the one by the Indian village location. Nor would you have to hike to it the way they did. I don’t care much for these types of TV shows, but since I knew the area I thought it was fun.

On the fictional side, there was a short movie made called Orange County Hill Killers that I saw premiere last year at a local horror film festival. When I first heard about it I was excited to see how Black Star was used. The movie is good, but I realized pretty quickly they did not film it there. I will say that is only because I have developed an eye for these things. However, there were a couple of scenes in it that I knew exactly what they were referring to in the canyon so they did a good job of replicating the scenery there.

I did get a laugh out of the following being posted on Halloween 2012 on their facebook site that afternoon:

Orange County Hill Killers October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween everyone! 

Just don't go into to Blackstar Canyon.

Oops! Too late on my part that particular day...then again...not

I’m sure there will be more fiction that comes out of that region in the years ahead. One thing I should point out is just to the east about six months ago there was a mysterious experience two college age people had “hiking” near Holy Jim Canyon. They were lost for a few days and search teams were sent in trying to find them. Mysteriously, one turned up one night and the other the next day only less than a half-mile from where their car was parked. They were on a mountainside and off trail, but they should not have been “lost”.

At the time, I was pretty sure they had some illegal substances running through them…but then again, those ancient aliens abduct and do all sorts of strange things to people.

Previous blogs on Black Star Canyon:

The Black Star Canyon Hike (Spooky Legends and Lore 2009)

Black Star Canyon Indian Village

Hidden Ranch Location

The Revenge of Black Star Canyon (Black Star Falls)

Of course, the Sinister Secrets of Black Star Canyon (Halloween 2013) series I just finished:

The Cross of Black Star Canyon

The Red Rock Cliffs of Black Star Canyon

Death in Orchard Hills

Investigating the Sinks

The Sentinels of Black Star Canyon

All my Black Star Canyon (and nearby areas) videos are on this Youtube playlist:

Black Star Canyon Investigations