Saturday’s Share: Mooney Falls Memory

Havasu Falls, in the muddy seaason….

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

Today’s Share is of Mooney Falls, in the Grand Canyon.

Have you ever done something crazy for love? Something that almost scared the pee out of took you way out of your comfort zone? Something that ended up changing your life?

I have, and this picture of Havasu Falls is a reminder…

I don’t like being in the air, or having my foot slip from a curb. Bird’s eye views make me feel like I’m plummeting to my death.

I’ve ridden a cable car across Niagara Falls, climbed rock walls, and flown across most of North America – twice! These experiences were, at once, terrifying and empowering.

Sixteen years ago, I took a leap of faith, and accepted a job at the Grand Canyon.I’d wanted to live in the desert since the third grade.

There, I fell in love with Jim. Jim – whose life ambition was to skydive. He’d lived near the Canyon for twelve years, and had hiked every trail the South Rim had to offer, many more than once.

When we signed on for an employee weekend hiking to Havasu Falls, he said it would be a shame not to go a little further along the Colorado River, to Mooney Falls.

I had a book on Canyon hikes and history, so I knew that the Supai natives who still lived nearby had named it Mooney Falls as a joke – when a white man named Mooney fell to his death there!

Encouraging, no?

The last 60 feet of the trail is a descent straight down the cliff face, using footholds and heavy chains attached with railroad spikes. Jim knew I was afraid, and didn’t insist that I try, although he maintained that the travertine waterfalls with their turquoise pools were worth it.

In the end, I tried. I was sure I was going to die. I could not look down; and might never have made it if Jim wasn’t below me, patiently setting my feet in the footholds for me. It wasn’t graceful, but it was effective.

The pools at the bottom were exquisite, perfect for swimming, playing, and reveling. In a beautiful fern grotto, Jim proposed to me while holding me in waist deep water.

I joke that he trapped me into acceptance, because I NEEDED him to get back UP that cliff…. =)

That wasn’t the last time we took a leap of faith, made a terrifying descent, or faced a steep uphill climb where the risk of plummeting to catastrophe was a real risk.

When I look at this image, I remember that day, and how accepting the challenge of facing my terror, and trusting  Jim to help me, led to the life I’m leading today. Would we be married now, if I had decided to stay home where it was safe?

We don’t know. Jim maintains that it was a spontaneous decision – he felt the place and the moment were “too beautiful to waste”. Maybe another moment would have come – or maybe not. He’s an adventurous guy; a woman unwilling to take that risk might have slipped out of his life.

It didn’t seem like a life-changing decision, to brave the side of the cliff that day. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling very brave at all. But I was. I didn’t let fear own me that day; I accepted it, and moved with it down that cliff, and then back up again.

And it’s taken me to places I never dreamed of, that day at Mooney Falls.

So, how about you? Can you think of times when you were bold, and dared your fears? When you ventured forth from your safe spaces, and did something that changed you? What was it? How did it go? Would you do it again? I love when my readers share, Saturday or anytime!


  1. Brave…hmm. I worry sometimes that I don’t have enough smarts to feel enough fear to overcome. I just do stupid things and then afterward think, “Hm, I could have died, wonder why my fears weren’t protecting me from trying that?” But now, I have to say, the biggest fear I’m facing is the idea of publishing independently, and that one feels real. Great post, SJ.

    • Gretchen,

      I have two living children. One is cautious (not extremely, but he tends to stop to think about safety, consequences, and prevention in a natural way).

      The other is daring. I used to think that she would get hurt a lot, challenging herself as she has since she was a toddler, but she seldom does. She seems to know her body and capabilities in an innately accurate way.

      Maybe we need both kinds, in many degrees, to form a society. Those who look first, and those who leap blind, and all of us in betweeners.

      I agree, though – the thought of publishing myself is a big scary I need to absorb in tiny morsels. It reminds me of how scared I was when Jeremiah reached the age of compulsory schooling, and I knew that I was assuming the full responsibility for his education.

      Six years later, that fear is mostly gone. It took time, learning, and trying, and error, and more trying.

      Maybe that’s the key to independent publishing, homeschooling, or any Big Scary Thing? =)

    • Marianna,

      Another whole country’s worth of brave! That is impressive. It’s odd that sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to turn around, go home, and say that we made a mistake.

      When I moved from New York to Arizona, I took a cross -country train trip with only $50 in my pocket. I was heading to a job where I knew no one, and which would be denied me if I had failed the pending drug test I wasn’t quite sure I could pass. Not sure if that was brave or foolish – most likely, a little of both.

      But i learned a lot about myself, making that trip on little more than faith…

      Thanks for stopping by to share!

    • Janet,

      He is indeed a wonderful man, even if our adventures look a lot different sixteen years further on. It was terrifying, going down that cliff, but, at the bottom was one of the loveliest places I have ever been. Sometimes a little terror is good for the soul, I guess!

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