Thursday, May 4, 2017

Havasupai Heaven

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

Havasupai has been on my bucket list for a while now. Permits are not easy to come by, so I was a little turned off by the daunting task of obtaining them. But this year, this year I was determined! I began calling the permit office on February 1 {the day they release the golden tickets}. I called for two days and was able to secure two permits for two nights. {I actually got them during a brief window of online reservations. I believe they had too many glitches and took the site down}.

Lesson learned about booking: I think if you wait until after the first couple of weeks {of the season opening}, you can get reservations...if you are flexible. When we checked in to the office upon arriving in the village - they were taking phone reservations.

Mr. C hiked Havasupai when he was about 14 and was not interested in doing it again. {I don't know why!! I would do it again next week}! However,  I KNEW my brother would be all over it and I couldn't ask for a better backpacking partner. {His camping knowledge is definitely more extensive than mine}.  Plus, he prepared fabulous meals...ramen and veggies, couscous with pistachios, cinnamon and cardamom, bean and potato mash, and coffee! He made coffee each morning! We only prepared meals that could be done with boiling water. {He had a Jet amazing little contraption that boils 2 cups of water in 2 minutes}.

Several people had told us the 8 mile hike down to the village {campgrounds are an additional 2 miles} was not pretty...just a desert hike. Well, they were wrong. The hike down through the canyon was amazing, breathtaking...I was in awe of the canyon walls.

The trail was filled with interesting this friendly rock face and plants growing anywhere and everywhere.  We saw fuzzy caterpillars and some of the biggest butterflies I have ever seen.  A few lizards darted between the rocks and the never ending caravan of pack mules and horses continually crossed our path.

Things I learned about the trail:
The long 60 mile road to the trail head {hilltop} is before Peach Springs. There is a reason the speed limit is 30 MPH on the pitch black {at night} road. I side swept a very large elk!! {No damage to the car and hopefully, not the elk}.
Sleep at the trail head. We left the valley after dinner, arrived around midnight, slept in the car, and hit the trail by 6:30AM.
It's a 10 mile hike.
Please...pack in and pack out. Everything we needed was on our backs. It broke my heart {and pissed me off} to see the horses and mules loaded with large coolers, bags, lounge chairs, etc. If you can't live on ramen for a few days...don't go.  I promise, it is much more rewarding and empowering to carry your own gear.
The hike through the canyon is beautiful. Take your time.
Once you arrive in the village, you have 2 miles of loose, dust sandy to walk through. I'm not going to sucked.

Our first water sighting!! You come upon the river about a mile outside the village. It is a perfect place to rest, wash your face, regroup...enjoy the surroundings.

The village.
There are two markets, a cafe, restrooms, water, a lodge, and the tourist office {where you must check in}.
There is also a landing pad. Yes, you can take a helicopter in, but you will miss the magnificent canyon hike. I only recommend flying in if you are physically unable to hike the trail. {Remember, you still have 2 miles to hike from the village to the campground}.

Once you are near the campgrounds there is a frybread stand with cold sodas and gatorades.

Things I learned about the village and campsite:
Guests are monitored. We were miles outside the village when we were approached by a local on horseback who asked for our names. He checked us off a list and told us to check in at the village.  Upon checking in, we were given wristbands and a tag for our tent. A local came through the campground each morning and evening to check in on the campers.
You do not have a designated campsite. {Even though it seems like it when you book the online reservation}.
No day hikes are allowed.
No alcohol is allowed.
No campfires.
There are composite restrooms.
There are lots of picnic tables throughout the campsite.
The locals are incredibly kind and accommodating.
Fellow campers seemed friendly and respectful. I never saw trash or anyone acting stupid.

First falls...Navajo Falls. With every step, the view becomes more and more intoxicating.

You're tired, dirty, feet hurt...but you come around a bend and down a hill to this incredible sight.
Havasu Falls.

I'm telling you...the views just keep coming.  There are deep pools all along the river...
Yes, I did jump right in. Dirty, dusty clothes and all. It was cold and refreshing. 
{Since this was my bath for the day and I was cold...I may have gone back to the tent and changed into flannel pants and a t-shirt...ready for dinner and bed}!

On our second day, we ventured down to Mooney Falls. Another gorgeous view!
{In my quest to pack as little as possible, I forgot a brush! My hair was tied up - one way or another - the entire time}.

To get down to Mooney Falls and the trail to Beaver Falls you have to take a little adventure. Through this cave and down a very steep, wet, crazy climb down.  I was in so much shock and awe, I forgot to get a picture of the "ladder".


It was kind of cold and cloudy on the day we made this trek. The mist from the falls was freezing!!! Everyone was searching for sunny spots.

Another deep swimming area. I could not get enough of this water. Although I wish it would have been a little warmer, it still calmed the soul. {I don't think the water temperature varies too much, but I would have liked the outdoor temps to be warmer}.

We had a perfect camp spot. We were near the trail and restrooms and right across from the river.  We were nestled in some trees and had a little stream behind us {perfect for washing dishes}.  The drinking water {a spigot of fresh spring water  coming out of the side of a mountain} was only a few steps away, as well.

To be lulled to sleep by the sound of rushing water and a million stars above you is perfection...but then Mother Nature out does herself with a sunrise that changes the color of the magnificent cliffs towering over you...tan to orange to a brilliant red. I don't think I could ever tire of that.

Things I learned about camping:
Always bring the fly even if it adds a few more ounces. {There was a brief moment on day 2 when the skies clouded up and some sprinkles fell. I would have been screwed if it rained}!
Bring less food.
Tie the food up on a tree branch. {We did this because we heard the squirrels and ring tailed cats will eat through anything for a crumb}.
A good sleeping bag and pad are worth the investment.
Bringing a good book was worth the added weight.

Rising Son {or Fidel} is a grandfather of 13 and has lived in the canyon his whole life. He sang and told us stories. Most memorable thing he said: "I am a poor man because I have no money, but I am rich  because this is my home."

Hiking out at sunrise. The hike out was different, of course. It is a gradual climb out of the canyon until you arrive at the ascent to the switchbacks. The last mile and half is really up hill. We made it out in 5 hours...carrying all of our gear.

We made it to the top! The wind was blowing. I was chapped, dusty, and fatigued...but, I felt amazing!  To see such a magical, mystical place puts things in perspective. Life is precious, hard, wonderful...all things good and bad. I'm forever grateful for the experience of this trip and the opportunity to spend every minute of it with my brother. We talked, laughed, maybe got misty eyed, philosophized, and analyzed...for hours and hours and hours. I am a better person because of these 72 hours spent on a trail, in the water, in a tent...beneath the stars.

"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the growth and happiness occurs while you are climbing it." - Andy Rooney

My gear:
I went to REI for most of my gear. They fitted me for my backpack and it was worth every penny. It was comfortable. I had zero soreness on my shoulders, hips, or back.
Backpack - Osprey Aura AG {Women's}
Sleeping bag - Marmot
Sleeping Pad - Nemo
Tent - REI Backpacking Tent {I got this at their annual sale last year. It is light and sets up in a couple of minutes}.
Although I did get a blow up pillow, I liked my little clothing sack better.
{I only brought one change of clothes and water shoes}.
My toiletries {small bag} consisted of toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
{I wish I would have brought a small bottle of lotion}.
I had a medium bag with utensils, collapsible bowl, mug and pocket knife.
My bag of granola bars and nuts was the heaviest thing in my bag. It didn't seem like much at the time of packing, but we did not need it all.

That's it!  I never weighed my pack, but I think it was 30-40 pounds.

"I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And most surprising of all, that I could carry it." Cheryl Strand

I'm officially hooked and can't wait for my next adventure!!
Next up: Grand Canyon - camping at Phantom Ranch
{Although, there may be some smaller adventures before that one}!

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