Sunday, June 08, 2014

Hiking in Havasupai

Left to right: Randy, Jeff, Hillery and Olivia, Patrick, Curtis, Eldon, Hunter, Mike, and Zachariah

In early May we all met for our annual guys hike (plus Hillery and Olivia this year) at hilltop in the Havasupai Indian reservation in Arizona.  We had tried to get permits for hiking either Havasu Falls or the Grand Canyon South Rim.  Mike did the leg work.

The South Rim ranger station laughed at Mike when he called, and said he could get us in for sometime in mid to late summer.  Havasupai ranger station said they could get us in, but sounded really non-committal.  We were a little nervous we wouldn't actually have the reservation when we arrived in Supai.

We arrived at the parking lot called Hilltop at around 1130pm the night before our hike.  Along with most of the people that were planning on getting an early start the next morning.  As we set up the tent it quickly became apparent that there was going to be a duel of snores between Randy and Curtis on polar opposite sides of the tent.  I curled up on the floor of the car and I could still hear them snoring through the car door...

Eldon: "I work out!"

So, somewhat rested we got up early monday morning ready to make the 11 mile hike from canyon rim down to Supai and Havasu falls camp site.

Olivia in front of the Supai ranger station after 11 miles of hiking

Hunter and Eldon with Navajo falls behind

We got down to the falls in 4-5 hours.  The water was so inviting after the hot dusty trail.

Jeff and Zachariah with Havasu falls and the mouth of carbonate canyon behind 

 Randy cooling off in the pool under Havasu falls

Havasu Falls 

Havasu Falls 

Dinner time! 

The only place where you can camp is between Havasu falls and Mooney falls.  We spent three nights in the campground.  It was nicer than what we usually have on our yearly hikes.  There were picnic tables, nice non-smelly self composting outhouses, and the creek ran right next to most of the sites. You had to be wary of stray dogs and industrious squirrels, but otherwise it was an excellent spot to stay.

Mooney Falls 

On day two we decided to make the 15 mile roundtrip hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Since you can only camp in the one place in the Indian reservation you have to make the trek to the Colorado river and back all in one day.  So once again we set out early.

The descent to the base of Mooney falls was a bit precarious.  First you squeeze through a cave that then opens out to a line of ladders and hanging chains that you use to clamber down the side of the open cliff.
The Cave

After Mooney falls the trail followed Havasu creek all the way to the Colorado.  The only real difficulty was that we had to ford the creek about 8 times each way down and back.  The scenery was beautiful, there were hardly any other people, and because of the creek we had nice cool breezes most of the time.

 Where the creek and river met the colors were almost unreal.  Randy carried a little bag with him all the way down to the river which had his mask and snorkel.  As soon as we arrived he went to jump in, and was disappointed to hear that it is actually illegal to swim in the Colorado in the canyon.  I think it almost broke his spirit that he couldn't jump in.  Uncle Randy is like a fish, loves the water.

On the way back up we came across a small Bighorn sheep eating wild grapes.  It was pretty unphased by our attempts to get close for a good picture.

The climb back up from the base of Mooney falls.  It doesn't look quite as daunting from below as it did coming down.  The ladders and chains were all muddy and slippery.

We arrived back at camp at exactly 10 hours after we had left for the Colorado.  As we went to start making dinner Jeff went to dig into his backpack and found a squirrel passed out with an apparent sugar and oatmeal coma.  Jeff first saw the thing and jumped back from his bag like it was full of rattle snakes! Then he tipped his bag over and shook out the poor squirrel.  He was so bloated and lethargic that he couldn't even move.  He kept trying to climb under Jeffs tent to hide.  Eventually he made his way to the edge of camp but couldn't climb the small rocks to get all the way away.

On day three we explored Carbonate canyon which opened up to the east of Havasu falls.  The canyon had an old mine that we were able to explore.  The walls had huge veins of crystals running all throughout.  The canyon itself had tons of fossils all over the canyon floor.  We spent a few hours exploring the mines and looking for fossils.  Afterward we went back to Havasu to swim.

Before swimming Mike and I got roped into hiking back up to Supai to pay for the use of one mule to carry out 4 bags.  Even though we weren't sending our bags on a mule... not sure how that happened!

Starting the long hike out on day 4

Zachariah and Mike entering Supai

Olivia and Hillery entering Supai


There is a constant stream of pack mules going up and down the trail.  Sometimes they sneak up on you.  Several of us even got knocked out of the way by pack mules on a mission, they didn't even slow down just ran at their same speed and hikers beware!

LDS church building in Supai village

Waiting for Curtis, Patrick, Jeff, and Randy's bags to show up by pack mule

The hike out took about 3-4 hours and we got out just before it got really hot.  Havasu lived up to it's reputation.  It was amazing, beautiful, and a perfect way to enjoy a piece of the Grand Canyon!


Tara said...

Sounds like a cool trip, as usual! I'm glad none of you got too damaged by those pack mules ;)

pauline said...

I loved all that scenery too ... it did look like a lot of "fun work" though... thanks for sharing :) xox

Hills said...

Love the post Zach! Olivia and I had a blast crashing the party. Also, I cracked up again seeing the photo of the squirrel. How silly! It was great to see you and I hope the next time we do we get to see your family as well! Cheers!

fiona said...

It's soooo beautiful there! Poor Uncle Randy... not getting to snorkel! He loves that, I know. The squirrel! Hilarious!!! And I like the bighorn sheep, too. Those ladders up/down the one set of falls are crazy! Seriously, what a fun adventure. I'm glad you got to go, Hon... ;) Oh, and Olivia is adorable. Lucky girl, hiking the Grand Canyon... :D Great pictures, everyone!!