Tag Archives: havasu falls

Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 4

If you missed previous installments, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

We woke up the next morning around dawn, which was felt like 8:30 a.m. for the east coasters among us so it wasn’t so bad. Packing up all of our gear was time consuming and yet another reason to sleep in the lodge. By the time we left the camp grounds it was 7:00 a.m. It was an hour’s hike to the village with all of our gear and me stopping to take pictures. Yes, it’s a sickness.

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Now, I have to pause to tell you how brilliant I am. The Havasupai people fly people and supplies in and an out of the canyon everyday via helicopter. After I purchased a much needed and obscenely expensive diet coke, I took all of our rented gear — our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and tent — and hooked them together with some cheap climbing hooks. I handed them to the kind village man at the helicopter pad along with a $10 bill. For a mere $10, he flew our gear up in the helicopter and we picked it up at the top of the canyon. It was one of the smartest things I have ever done in my life. If you ever hike Havasu Falls and choose to camp out, I highly recommend it.

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After eating breakfast and dropping our gear off at the helicopter pad, it was already 9:00 a.m. We were off. It was a beautiful day as we made our way through the canyon floor.

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What The Boyfriend does while I take pictures…check for service.

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It didn’t occur to me until we reached the start of the grueling hike up the last 1.5 miles that there was a price to pay for our dilly-dallying. It was 1:00 p.m. and about 90 degrees with a hot and heavy sun beating down on us. I was also low on water, exhausted, and close to full-on panic mode. 1.5 miles does not seem like a lot of miles. But when it’s straight up hill, it quickly becomes an eternity. And when your brain starts saying things like: “I”m going to die here of dehydration and never get to brag about hiking the Grand Canyon,” you start to believe it.

In the end, I did not die of hydration. The Boyfriend gave me plenty of his water  and even carried my backpack for me (he’s a keeper). As we neared the top, the weather cooled thanks to the increased elevation, and when I finally collapsed on a log in the parking lot, i felt a mixture of extreme euphoria, exhaustion and pain. It was a thrilling experience, but also a grueling one. While the elevation is not that great compared to other hikes we’ve done, the heat, the lack of water, and the 17.5 miles we had hiked in order to reach that point all played a role in pushing me toward my limit.

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A map of the elevation by distance

But all the exhaustion and pain is worth it when you get to set your eyes on this awesome sight:

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One day, I’d like to return to Havasu Falls and see the beautiful blue-green waters the Havasupai people are famous for. When I do, I will be mindful of these lessons I learned.

1) Book a room at the lodge in the village months in advance.

2) Bring plenty of water – even if you think it’s too much.

3) Wear super thick hiking socks that will (hopefully) prevent blisters.

4) Bring less food.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 3

If you missed previous installments, check them out here: Part 1, Part 2

When we arrived at the campgrounds, we continued walking until we found an empty spot on high ground to pitch our tents. I happily dumped my backpack on a picnic table and emptied out all of our gear. Then came the obvious problem: I had no idea what to do with it.

I’ve slept in a tent once in my life. I was 11, maybe 12, and it was an overnight  summer camp trip. I’m fairly positive I did not pitch my own tent. Needless to say, I was useless. So I stood around taking pictures while the rest of the gang got to work.

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I did manage to help a little bit. Here is me using a rock to drive a stake into the ground.

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Here are my thoughts on sleeping in a tent: It’s not that special. Given the fact that we had to rent the equipment, we didn’t actually save any money over the ramshackle lodge in the village. And the lodge has a shower — which I badly needed — and AC — which I badly wanted. Plus we had to carry all the equipment, which weighed a ton. The thing that bothered me most about the tent was not the hard floor and the occasional bug, but the suffocating heat. I didn’t use my sleeping bag, except as another layer between my back and the floor, and still, I woke up the next morning drenched in sweat.

Finally, stumbling around in the dark with a headlamp, looking for the outhouse is not the most fun activity in the world.

I’ll confess, despite all my grumbling, camping in the Grand Canyon is one of those off-the-beaten-track experiences I’m glad I have under my belt. It’s a story to tell at cocktail parties (if I went to cocktail parties). But it’s not something I will make a habit out of doing.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 2

If you missed part 1, check it out here.

There is a major reason people hike 10 miles to Havasu Fall: The stunning blue green water unique to the Havasupai reservation. This is what Havasu Falls normally looks like:

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Breathtaking, right? Well, this is what the falls looked like when we got there:

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WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?! That was my reaction plus or minus a few blasphemous words. I quickly learned that we were hiking in monsoon season and the massive amount of rain the night before pushed the red canyon mud into the river, turning the water a lovely red/brown color. I was disappointed, but still managed to take a bunch of pictures.

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And here’s the crazy thing. As we were hiking out the next morning, I was stunned by the color of the water. It was starting to normalize!

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A hiker standing next to me pointed out that if we stayed one more night, we’d probably get to see the stunning blue-green waters Havasu is famous for. Alas, it was not in the stars. We were off.

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Hiking Havasu Falls: Part 1

After we parked the car and I oohed and ahhed over the sprawling Grand Canyon before us, I lugged my massive backpack out of the car and managed to hoist it on my back.

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My massive backpack

That moment was a rude awakening. We had rented our camping equipment from REI and divided up the tent, two sleeping bags and two sleeping pads between the The Boyfriend and myself, and despite all the advice about how “you’ll get used to the weight,” let me tell you – you don’t.

It hurt. A lot.

Our hiking companions assured us that we weren’t wearing out backpacks right. Well, there are only so many ways you can wear a backpack. And they all hurt.

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The aforementioned hiking companions. The Boyfriend is the cutie on the left.

But we were at the point of no return. So I groaned and moaned and set out into the canyon. It is an 8 mile hike from the trail head at Hualapai Hilltop to the Indian village of Supai, where you have the luxury of a bathroom, a water fountain, a small cafeteria and a general store. If you are smart, you will have booked a room in the humble lodge in the village. If you are pretending to be adventurous, like myself, you will continue another 2 miles to the campground, passing three beautiful falls along the way.

The first mile and a half is a series of switchbacks that take you down 1,000 feet in elevation – which isn’t so bad, until you remember that you will have to do the reverse on the way back. But we quickly banished that thought from our head and enjoyed the gorgeous views. And they are truly gorgeous.

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After 1.5 miles, the trail flattens and we walked for 6.5 miles through Havasupai canyon along a rock-filled bed. While this is relatively relaxing in comparison, the path is filled with rocks and they did a number on my toes and feet. I had some lovely souveneirs the next morning in the form of several blisters.

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Only 6.5 miles to the Diet Coke I so desperately want…

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The Boyfriend hiking through the canyon

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The church in the village of Supai

Next up: The waterfalls and how not to pitch a tent…Stay tuned.

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