A few weeks ago I went on my first backpacking trip ever – and it was to the most beautiful place I’ve ever been! We made the journey to Havasupai to see some of the gorgeous waterfalls and pristine blue waters!
*Warning – This is a long post with tons of pictures!*
This trip has been a long time coming – we actually were planning on going earlier this year in April for my birthday, but due to flooding they had during the winter, the reservation was closed to tourists till May. I wanted to go when it wasn’t a billion degrees outside so we settled on October :)
The four of us ready to hike down
All four of us had to buy new gear for the trip (so I guess I have to backpack again? haha) but Lance was the only one who’s ever done any sort of backpacking before. It’s a little different than camping since you have to carry everything in one pack. We ended up bring mostly dried foods (I’ll be doing another post on some of the stuff we brought to eat). It makes you think twice on everything you pack! I managed to score some nifty (somewhat dike-ish) hiking pants from goodwill for about $5 right before we left – which worked out amazingly! 5 bucks well spent!
This is the only place that still has its mail delivered by mule!
Since the reservation is about a 4 hour drive from here (plus another hour and a half to get to the trailhead) we decided to leave Thursday after work and stay overnight near Peach Springs. We had a bright and early 4:00 am wakeup call (which came way to fast if you ask me!), we got ready then hit the road to the trail.
The parking lot was already full when we arrived, but got lucky with a decent spot. My pack weighed in around 35 pounds so it was a chore to get that thing on for the first time – Lances pack weighed 45 and he had a lot of our cooking stuff and tent, poor guy!
This is a view of a portion of the hike down
Now the hike definitely isn’t glamorous – its 8 miles straight to the village, but here’s the kicker – it drops about 1000 ft in elevation in the first mile and a half. It’s steep, rocky and constant switchbacks. From what I read it takes people on average 4-6 hours to get from the hilltop to the village. We must have been sprinting because it took us 3.5 and we were the second ones to reach the village that day – talk about awesome!
We stopped for a few quick photo’s on the hike
After we checked in, we decided to hustle down to the campsites so we could get a good spot. The lady in the tourism office said they were expecting 700 people for the weekend – and we didn’t want to get stuck with a less than stellar campsite. I have to admit, this portion of the hike was the worst for me, even though it was just 2 miles. It was sand pretty much the entire way (which sucks to hike in, if you’ve ever done it). The cool part was that there we passed 3 waterfalls on our way, which was motivating :) When we finally found a campsite that looked good, we all couldn’t wait to take our packs off!
Our “We made it/We kick ass” pose
The view from our picnic table
After setting up our tents and having a quick lunch, we decided to head down to Havasu Falls to play in the water for a bit. The water is a constant 70 degrees all year round and is a gorgeous blue color (from the magnesium that occurs naturally). Havasu falls plunges about 100 feet into the pools below.
The water spraying off the falls was freezing! It took Hillary and I by surprise..
On Saturday we woke up bright and early and decided to check out Mooney Falls after breakfast. Since we had a campsite that was pretty far back, we didn’t have a long hike to Mooney Falls at all. Once getting to the falls you had to hike down to get to the base – and there were numerous “ascend at your own risk” signs. This was no easy task as there were 30+ other people trying to do the same thing (and a few others trying to come up). It was an extremely narrow path with 3 tunnels to crawl through, then a series of steps (wet from the spray of the falls) with a chain to hold onto, followed by an old wooden ladder to climb down. I would say it took about 20 minutes for us to get down to the bottom. It was slightly terrifying (and lets not talk about the way back up…I about had a panic attack and ran up the whole thing holding my breath).
Waiting for our turn to continue in one of the rock tunnels
I managed to climb down the sketchy ladder without falling – notice the chains and rocky area we climbed down above me..
Once we reached the bottom it was gorgeous! And we were able to hike down following the river to a series of smaller falls. It was so refreshing to walk around in suck a beautiful place. We had intentions of hiking to Beaver Falls, but got discouraged after about a mile of vines we had to hike through and turned around.
snapping a few photos..
One of my favorite shots from the trip – you can see 3 different falls
The endless view of vines ahead of us..
Later in the day we walked up to the beginning of the campsites to see if there was anywhere we could get fry bread – and just our luck, one of the locals had set up a table to sell fry bread. She was raising money for her son to run in a championship in Australia. Based on what she told us, he is a fast little guy – and how could I turn down supporting a fellow runner?! It was fun to chat with her and her daughter about how school and stuff works for the kids who grow up in Havasupai.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do once it started to get dark so we played a lot of cards and usually went to bed early. Hillary and I both had the same great idea to get head lamps to wear at night when we have to walk to the bathroom – genius idea if you ask me. Speaking of the bathrooms, they were the cleanest and least smelly outdoor restrooms I have ever used – and that says a lot!
Sunday we decided to wake up early to get things packed up. We wanted to make it to the village early so we could get in line for the helicopter ride back up to the top.
Lance and I hiking through the village
We ended up waiting for a few hours, but kept busy. We chatted with a few fellow campers and played some ball with a few of the local kids. This was my first ride in a helicopter – and let me tell you, it was awesome! The view was amazing and it was really cool to see just how far we had hike to get there!
A view of the village from the helicopter
This was such an awesome trip and I would love to go back to Havasupai a second time! If you would like more information about making a trip to Havasupai, please visit the tribe’s website here, where they have information about the location, rates for camping/lodging, the waterfalls and more.
If you have questions about my trip or about things we did or brought, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email! Also you can view more photo’s from my trip by checking out my Havasupai Picasa Web Album