National Geographic : 1948 May
How Does a Portable Radio Work? The Havasupai Reservation has two short-wave broadcasting stations and many standard receivers, but these youngsters found the photographer's battery-operated set hard to understand. At the first turn of the Topocoba Trail I readily understood why I had been able to hear Joe's shouting and whistling so long be fore I could see him. In the first mile and a half the trail drops a dizzy 1,000 feet by means of 29 switchbacks down a steep talus slope to the floor of the canyon. On the way to meet me it had taken Joe a half hour of coaxing and yelling to drive the weary pack horses up that cliff. This was a new trail, he said, built by hand by the Indians. The old trail, still clearly visible on the opposite wall of the canyon, had been used as a wagon road by early miners. How they managed to lower their wagons over the brink at the head of the trail I could not ascertain, but the rotted pile of what was once a wooden wagon, splintered on the rocks beneath the cliff, showed they were not always successful. Seemingly in a matter of minutes, we dropped from the gray and buff limestone of the canyon rim to the brilliant red sandstone of the inner gorge walls. The remainder of the ride, down the creek bed and through countless meanders of the dry stream, became almost boring. Yet whenever I looked straight up I saw the canyon rim seeming to im prison us on either side. In three hours the red-walled inner canyon began to widen, and lush groves of cotton woods, willows, and green shrubs began to appear. Suddenly from the base of the canyon wall came the rush and bubble of Havasu Creek. A closer examination revealed that the water gushes from several springs. By the time we reached the first stream ford, a few hundred yards farther on, the creek had en larged to a veritable river 15 yards across and about three feet deep-water as crystal clear and sparkling in the Arizona sunshine as I had ever seen. Red and Gray Walls Half a Mile High In the last mile before reaching the village we crossed the creek several more times. We now began to ride between neatly fenced fields where green cornstalks quivered in the cool, light breeze. Untethered horses, munching the grass along the stream banks, eyed us curiously as we rode by. Up to this point we had met no Indians nor seen any sign of habi tation on the canyon floor. I was little prepared for my first view of the village of Supai. Weary from more than three hours of laborious riding, I was wonder ing whether this canyon passage had really been worth while. But on climbing a small rise where the trail enters a narrow cleft be tween a huge boulder outcrop and the red canyon wall, I promptly forgot the miles be hind. There, sprawled below, was the lovely land of the Havasupai (Plate II). Bright green fields of new corn, winding What, No Wires?