Chocolates for my Valentine

I wanted to get Kathryn a Valentine’s Day gift that won’t break our budget. This means no red roses. Have you ever look at the price of a red rose around February 14th compared to any other time of year? It’s enough to bust this man’s budget. With roses off the board I contemplated chocolates. After some careful thought, I decided a box of chocolates would be unwise. I don’t want to be blamed for any increase at the weekly weigh-in! With both these options off the table and still on a budget, what did I do for my valentine on Valentine’s Day?

Grand Falls

There is a little known waterfall in Arizona called “Grand Falls” about an hour outside of Flagstaff. At 185 feet, it is higher than Niagra Falls making it a sight to behold and a must-see if you are in the area. Why did I bring up a waterfall in the middle of the desert that only flows copiously for a month or so each year (during some parts of the year there is no water at all!)?


Grand Falls has a really interesting nickname that fits our story well. It’s lovingly called, “Chocolate Falls”. Some years it flows just a little at its peak due to lack of snowpack and runoff into the Little Colorado River. This year we were in luck. The water was flowing near its maximum. By now you must be wondering why it’s named so. The deep brown sediment is churned by a fury of water, creating a muddy or chocolaty look. If real chocolates won’t do the trick, then flowing chocolate in the great outdoors should.

A view of Chocolate Falls from the top of the canyon. All the water (and mud) looks like milk chocolate!

The Descent

After shooting at the top of the canyon, we decided to descend to the base of the falls. There were some tricky parts where we scrambled down some boulders and sharp rocks. At the base, we got covered with MUD. There was so much mud that my shoes weighed an additional 5 pound each. This made moving around nearly impossible and shooting even more difficult. My tripod and I would sink slowly into the mud just like we were in quicksand. The stuff may look like chocolate but it certainly didn’t act like chocolate.

I was slowly seeping into the mud as I took this shot. Look at the flowing river of chocolate coming right at me!

The scramble back to the top was awful. Ascending up the same boulders and sharp rocks was even more difficult than the trip down. Our shoes were mud laden combined with the effects from high altitude (~4500 feet), providing some heart-pounding exercise.

We got to the top relieved we made it one piece. I turned to Kas and asked if her valentine’s gift was OK. Expecting a club on the noggin I got a warm smile and a kiss. Success! Moral of the story: You don’t have to spend any money on a great Valentine’s Day gift – just risk your life.

Proof that we survived the descent and ascent. Notice the mud on my shoes – after I scraped over 4inches off.

Remember, it’s all about the light!

For your viewing pleasure, here is a brief video from the falls: