The alarm strikes just fifteen minutes after sunrise; the air feels cool and fresh and inviting. A peculiar sense of anxiety sets in as I’m about to embark on a grand adventure to a desert waterfall that I’ve only ever marveled at through pictures. This whirlwind of exciting emotions are consistently present just before any hike or creek trek; the best feeling in the world.
Ah, yes. Alas, I pull together a collection of hair ties and last-minute camera batteries before I hit the road for a delightful cup of gas station coffee. $1.19 never tasted so good.
I pick up my gal, Cristina, and faced East. The long stretch of road warrants deep conversations. We talk about the existential crises early twenty-somethings, like ourselves, inevitable fall into during this strange post-college era we are currently experiencing.
After driving for a couple of hours through narrow switchbacks in the Salt River Canyon, I turn the Subaru down an incredibly rough, but not unbearable, dirt road for four miles to our marked trailhead. My view of the sparkling blue river waters churn the butterflies of excitement.
A short thirty minutes later and we’ve arrived to the parking lot. Well, technically we park off to the side of the cliff before we cross a river with a giant white truck that got stuck, ultimately prohibiting us to drive through said river to get the REAL parking lot… *phew*. You get the point.
The first thing I notice about where we were: the silence. No crowds, no trash, no screaming ungrateful kids, no punks disrespecting the land. What a paradise. My heart is the happiest when I have the rare chance to peacefully roam an empty trail. Arizona’s waterhole hikes are often saturated with annoying people during the summertime. It was a great surprise to have barely seen anyone out there the same day we were. But — I wasn’t questioning it! I soaked up the glory.
The very full, very vibrant Cibecue Creek runs parallel to the trail Cristina and I had followed. Arizona’s sweltering temperatures brought us to trek the belly of the creek to avoid dehydration or overheating. We are absolutely blown away by the crystal clear clarity of the water — practically begging us to jump in at every chance we can. But, we decided to save the best jump in for the final stretch around the corner to where the great, big waterfall lies.
“WOAH!” I shouted to Cristina against the loud current. “It’s right here. It’s amazing!”
You know that feeling when your expectations obliterate into thin air because what lies before your eyes is far beyond amazing that your brain can’t even articulate a rational opinion?! Yeah? Just me? That’s what I had felt when we made it to our destination. Someone would have never have guessed that a place with so much beauty would be a mere two miles away from where we had originally parked our car. Unbelievable.
The water fall itself sits about 30 feet high off the desert floor and holds a significant water flow. We watched other hikers as they went cliff jumping and laughed as their failed executions led to bellyflops. Hours of swimming and hiking urged me to take a quick a nap in the burning sun; I got a pretty gnarly tan!
We exited the same way we came. Our mildly sunburnt bodies and chapped lips proved just how crazy the sunshine glowed that day — leaving us tired and exhausted in the best way possible.
Cibecue Falls, I think you’re my favorite.
Photographed and Written by Natalie Allen