Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hiking Havasupai

Oh, hiking!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't really enjoy hiking.  It's social peer pressure that gets me to go on hikes, but after a couple years of putting up with it for the sake of being social, I've decided it's just not for me. I feel okay about declining an invitation if I'm just not up for it.  Especially when people want to go at 7am on a Saturday.


When there's a sort of once-in-a-lifetime hiking experience in your state and someone else does all the legwork and you really only have to show up (and walk with 30lbs on your back for 10 miles), then I realize that it's probably best if I just go.

After a long drive up to the trailhead on a Thursday evening in September (5ish hours from Phoenix, much longer for us) and stopping for gear and for dinner and for Walmart and for other stuff, we made it at 1am!  Of course, without any headlamps or much energy, we made the executive decision to sleep in the Suburban until the morning.  Six full size adults don't really fit, even when you take out our gear and try various configurations.  It's a memorable  night of giggling and the boys worrying about certain things and trying to talk secretly about them in Spanish, not knowing that I speak Spanish.  Word of the trip: madera.

As the sun started to rise, we stumbled out of the car, put on our gear, and broke through "the barrier" to get started.  The Red Bull would be the last cold thing I had before three days of well water and Grape Propel.
The hike in wasn't too bad, I suppose.  I had zero time to train/prepare for hiking 10 miles.  I always had zero things that you need when you're camping.  The night before I left, I stopped by my aunt's house and stole all the Boy Scout stuff they had.  I ended up with a sweet backpack, a sleeping bag, the best sleeping pad you can find, flashlights, CamelBak, etc.  After a quick stop at the grocery store buying camp-appropriate food, I was set to go.  I didn't even overpack my clothes!
We started the descent into the canyon, which is fairly easy going downhill, before the sun comes out.  The canyon itself is shaded, slightly rocky, and we mostly had the place to ourselves, save the mule trains coming through on occasion.

We walked through the dusty roads of Supai and contined another two miles to the campground.  I think we beat many of the weekend hikers and got one of the best camp sites around, near the bathrooms and the water well. 
For me, one of the several reasons why I don't enjoy camping - the bathroom situation.  Dudes have it easy.  Us ladyfolk, not so much.  I will say that the facilities at the campground were pretty amazing for campground bathrooms.  Self composting with wood chips, no smell, clean, and with toilet paper!  I was impressed.
Each day we hiked around to the different falls and took our daily bath. Water was cold, but felt good in the sun.  The falls have changed quite a bit since the flooding in 2008, and I feel like maybe I missed something but not seeing Havasu Falls in its full glory back then.  It's still beautiful now, just smaller.  I'm sort of a chicken and didn't feel like descending the mostly broken, one-person rope ladder down into Mooney Falls, so I watched from a distance.  Something about getting older makes me more of a chicken, I guess.

It was kind of nice being away from electronics for a few days.  After dark there wasn't much to do; I think we had rousing games of cards and best camp food contests.  The lasagna is easily the winner!  The only thing I missed was an ice cold can of Dr Pepper. 

The last day came and we were ready to make the trek back - the hardest part.  I still had sore muscles and blisters from the way in, but some moleskin and duct tape had me ready to go.  The girls were smart and hired mules to carry our packs out, otherwise I don't think I would have made it.
The last part is the toughest - the sun is out in full force and you walk straight up for the last 1.5 miles.  I am slow.  Very slow. 
But I made it!  Frozen Gatorade at the top was maybe the best thing ever. We waited another two hours for our packs, since the mule trains were on molasses mode that day.  The six of us piled back into the car, dirty, tired, hungry, but definitely glad we went.  I may even consider doing it again.....


Erin said...

haven't been there for years but we went every summer a few years in a row (all pre-flooding). one of the coolest places ever!

sometime i'll tell you about how my mom and her friend ended up in some sort of native american ceremony with some random supai indians while we were there ...

katilda said...

at this moment, i wish i didn't also understand a little spanish. haha oh dear

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