March 17th~19th, 2017 ~ Days 357~359
March 17th, 2017 ~ Day 357
I was given the opportunity to hike Havasupai Falls from my friend Susan. I had met Susan last May when we hiked Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon. To get a permit for Havasupai is very difficult. You spend hours on the phone trying to get through, just to make the reservation. I didn’t bother to even try this year. They did change things up this year to allow for online reservations, but that didn’t work too well, as the system crashed. Anyway, Susan’s husband couldn’t go, so she asked me if I wanted to go and I jumped at the offer!!!
We left Phoenix around 4:30 am to drive the four hour trek to Hualapai Hilltop, where we would begin our hike. The trailhead lays just 60 miles north of Route 66 on Indian Road 18. Beautiful scenery on the ride up there, but the road never seems to end.
We finally arrived at the trailhead as early as we could get there and we began our hike just before 10 am. I was afraid it was going to be hot down there in the canyon. Especially while wearing my 23.5 pound pack. I tried pruning the weight of my pack as much as possible, bringing only the necessities, although I did buy a one and a half pound chair for this hike. Not a necessity, but something I’m sure to enjoy.
The three of us starting our adventure of a lifetime! This being my third time in Havasupai, Susan and KT, are experiencing their first visit.
My first visit to Havasupai Falls was three and a half years ago. My love of hiking began while training to do this hike. Having recently been divorced, a friend of mine suggested we hike Havasupai. I agreed, what an amazing trip this would be! So once the phone lines opened in February, she got in and we had our reservations for my birthday weekend, September 2013.
In March of that same year, we began our training on our first trail, the Go John Trail at the Cave Creek Regional Park. We made it down to Havasupai with ten other friends and had the most amazing time! Climbing out of the canyon on my 36th birthday, I arrived at the hilltop at 9:23 am on 9/23/2013. It couldn’t have been a more promising God shot!
To now come full circle from where it all began, is such an amazing opportunity. This is my first backpacking adventure on this journey and I am so grateful to have it be here, where my love of hiking began.
Beautiful views surrounding us as we began our 2000 foot climb down into the canyon. Following the switchbacks down, it was an easy trek. The only trouble I had was with the weight on my back. I was constantly adjusting my pack.
All smiles! The canyon is an amazing place. The beauty of this place can make anyone smile. As you hike along the trail, which is for the most part a dry riverbed, the rock walls give off shade. Depending on the temperature, they also give off the heat, but we were lucky. Going down, the heat didn’t feel too bad.
After about five miles we came upon our first sight of water. Little springs coming out of the ground. A tree standing tall in the center, so green and alive! The colors of the canyon walls mesmerizing! Such a beautiful place to be.
Almost to the village! We’ve already hiked seven miles at least. From this point until we reached the village, we would be under the cover of trees. We soon caught glimpse of the turquoise river. Our first view had us spellbound by the true beauty of this amazing place. Paradise in the desert!
We made it the 8 miles to the Supai Village in less than 3 hours. Much faster than I had anticipated. We checked in and got our wrist bands. Stopped at the grocery store, where I bought the most expensive orange ever, but it tasted so good! It was worth it! Then we headed to the restaurant where the girls ordered lunch, I decided to not buy anything, I had my Mountain House and I wasn’t willing to carry it back up the canyon. I would wait to eat. My orange was enough for now.
After lunch, we made our way to camp, hiking through the village we came upon the church. Taking a picture of the cross, for my mom, who loved crosses. I had intended to make her a book of all the crosses I had seen on my adventures, the idea stemming from this cross, but I never did. Now I never will never get the chance to make her that book.
Seeing this cross reminded me that I chose to come here, not only to be on an amazing adventure, but to be here in this beautiful place to try to begin to heal. Although I may never get the opportunity to give my mom this special give, I can still complete it for her, in her memory.
After sitting in the restaurant’s air conditioning, our hike to camp became much warmer. We only had to hike two miles until we would reach camp. Along the way we came upon our first glimpse of Navajo Falls. The beautiful waterfalls took your breath away! People were out enjoying the water. I so badly wanted to soak my feet in the cool water, but we decided to continue on to camp.
Less than a mile later we came upon Havasu Falls! The most stunning waterfall ever! A 90 to 100 foot waterfall plunging into a turquoise blue pool of water. Mesmerized we stood on the hillside staring at it beauty.
From Havasu Falls we headed over to camp to unload our packs and put up our tents. KT, with her bright orange tent, you couldn’t miss us. We set up close to the camp entrance, close to the bathrooms and close to the water. We were in the shade most of the time and it felt like the perfect spot.
From camp we headed back over to Havasu Falls, our plan was to get in and enjoy the water. A short half mile hike, at first we needed to hike back up the hill. Then we climbed down the rocks, through a trail, that will lead you to the base of Havasu Falls. The mist from the waterfall came at me unexpectedly cold. It made the air much cooler as we were also in the shade. Walking across the water to get as close as I could to the falls, the water was much colder than I expected too.
I walked through the water everywhere I could without getting soaking wet. I was having fun exploring and taking pictures. Trying to take it all in. The force of the waterfall coming over the cliff, the mist on my face, the cold turquoise water on my feet, the sounds of the rushing water. It was all so overwhelmingly beautiful!
Once we had our fill of Havasu Falls, we decided to head back to camp and have some dinner, then head over to Mooney Falls and check it out.
The river traveled through the camp and we followed it along as we headed to Mooney Falls. The river was a beauty in itself. The color of course, but sections would break off and there would be miniature waterfalls.
We made it the short distance to Mooney Falls, a 200 foot waterfall with another spectacular pool of the blue-green water awaiting at the bottom.
All of us were exhausted, we tried to stay awake, but I think none of us made past seven. Listing to the majestic sound of the river flowing, I fell asleep.
March 18th, 2017 ~ Day 358
With only one week away from completing my journey, today I get to see the amazingly beautiful Beaver Falls! One of which I’ve only seen once before on my first trip to Havasupai Falls three and a half years ago. I am so grateful to be going here once again.
Heading out early, we had a visitor accompanying us on the trail. He followed us most of the way to Mooney Falls before he found another group to hang out with.
From our camp, Beaver Falls is roughly four and a half miles. To get to Beaver Falls you must first climb down the rock wall of Mooney Falls. Having only seen it from the top yesterday, I’m not sure if the girls knew what to expect.
After hiking down the trail to get to Mooney Falls, and facing the steep cliff-side descent with lots of drop-off exposure as you descend, you come to the first tunnel. There is a sign just before the tunnel “descend at your own risk”. A fair warning for what I was about to encounter.
Getting ready to head through the first tunnel to Mooney Falls, at first I thought I’d need my headlamp, which I remembered I’d left in my tent, but then I realized I could see light at the end of the tunnel. So, I navigated my way through allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness.
On the other side of the second tunnel, you catch a glimpse of Mooney Falls from another angle. The way the rock encompasses and frames the water, just the contrast of colors, is so perfect! From this point on, the chains begin.
Grasping on to the old wet rusted chains that are affixed to the rock walls of the cliff, I began my descent. Climbing down the slippery footholds that have been carved out of the rocks, while holding on to the chains, making sure I had three points of contact at all times. By climbing down backwards, I wasn’t looking out over the edge at the sheer cliff that could be at least 50-100 feet high.
Eventually I came to the wooden ladders, covered in moisture from spray from the Falls, they leaned haphazardly against the rock wall. The ladder worn from so many uses, created divots on each rung from the hands and feet of those who have come before me. Realizing the ladders were anchored to the wall diminished the little bit of fear I encountered. Heading down the ladder backwards, I quickly made my way down to the safety of solid ground.
Susan followed just after I did. KT on the other hand, frozen on the rock cliff, thought she would wait for us, not realizing that this was the only way to make it to Beaver Falls our destination for the day. Worried about the slippery rock and not having the proper shoes, I decided to take Susan’s shoes up to her. Once she changed shoes, we made our way slowly down the rock face and began the most beautiful journey!
From the beginning, the beauty of the canyon walls had me in awe! The river continued on through the canyon with it’s amazing views. Crossing the river to find a trail, we had to come back to actually get to the trail. Two things I realized…. One – I have only been here once before, so I vaguely remember where I am going, and two – there is much more water than there was the last time, and parts of where I think I had gone were now covered by the beautiful water. One good thing is, that you can hardly get lost, as there are walls on either side of you to guide your way.
We continued on through the trail we had found and soon we were headed through, what I was once told was called the “green mile”. The leaves of the vines were not there this time, but had they been there, the green mile would have been even more green. It was still amazingly beautiful!
After three and a half miles from Mooney Falls, we made it to Beaver Falls! A beautiful sight to see! It was even more beautiful than I had remembered, if that is at all possible. So many layers of water casting down it’s ledges.
Coming to this spot, I assumed this was the end of the trail. Across the river you could see the rope attached to the rock wall, where you could make your way to the top of Beaver Falls. The water looked deep and I wasn’t prepared to swim across. The girls headed back to the other side, while I stayed in this spot a moment to enjoy the beauty and have a quiet moment of peace.
With the sound of the waterfall filling my ears and the gorgeous green ivy surrounding the walls, I said a prayer and the tears began to flow. I began to let go. I was beginning to let go of the pain I felt from losing my mom. To know a piece of me was left here, I feel the tragic loss of losing her may eventually be okay.
Once I decided to head back over to the girls, I realized that I didn’t have to swim to get across the river. KT was already in the water knee deep. I walked through the water to the wall and made my way up. Clinging to the wall, I grasped on and continued across horizontally. There was one section where I wasn’t sure if I would make it. Debating on moving forward or going back, I decided I would take the chance and move forward. Who know when I would ever be here again.
I made it to the ledge I was aiming for without falling into the water. From there, I climbed the rope next to the ledge. I didn’t see the ladder from the other side, but now that I’ve seen it, I climbed my way further up to the top of Beaver Falls.
Standing in the center of Beaver Falls looking down below couldn’t have been more majestic. Since that peaceful moment I took for myself on the other side of the river, my heart felt a little lighter and I was feeling nothing but sheer joy! Standing in Beaver Falls with the water flowing over my feet was pure magic. I walked further up the river to check out more of the amazing beauty. I know there is a way to get back following the river, but with the girls behind me, I didn’t want to leave them, so I made my way back down Beaver Falls.
I made it down the ladder and rope without any issues, the rock wall was another story. I managed as best I could to not fall in the water, but that didn’t happen. I fell in. Luckily I had put my phone in the dry sack, for this reason. Once in the water, I pulled myself up on the wall and shimmied across until my feet could touch the ground. Items in my pack were not made to get wet, but luckily it was only my towel that got damp.
Excited to have completed my little trek, the girls and I enjoyed the falls a little while longer.
After hanging out at Beaver Falls for awhile we decided to head back to camp, finding even more beautiful waterfalls along the way.
At some point we had made a wrong turn. We weren’t hiking back the way we had come. Walking through the river I could see Mooney Falls. Since that was where we were headed anyway, I decided to continue on through the river and see where it would take me.
As we continued through the river, we came upon a nice surprise,the water was beautiful! With the sun shining upon it, it made the colors of the water even ore vibrant. Realizing I had seen this on the way in, but then I was high above on the trail.
Coming around a bend in the river, to my surprise, there was another waterfall. Maybe thirty feet high, it was amazing! I put my hand in the rushing water to feel its force. Such beauty!
We made it safely back to Mooney Falls. Snapping one last picture of the falls, with the sun shining intently on the falls, we climbed up the cliff and headed back to camp. The climb up was even faster than the climb down.
Resting in my new chair, I stayed at camp the rest of the evening. I was exhausted after two long days of hiking. I decided next time I would bring a book to read while at camp. This time however, I just enjoyed the beauty that surrounded me. The quiet peaceful moments I rarely get to experience as a single mom with three kids at home and who works two jobs. I relaxed my evening away.
It was an early night for the second night. We would be hiking out early in the morning.
March 19th, 2017 ~ Day 359
My camera had 4% battery. I captured one last photo of Havasu Falls before heading up the hill. My pack felt lighter without all the food I was carrying.
A pet-peeve of mine, “pack it in, pack it out” is a standard for any trip into the wilderness. Yet no one does it! So much garbage from the visitors was laying around. It destroys the beauty of this amazing place. I made sure to pack out all of my trash, why shouldn’t I pick up after myself? I can’t handle the laziness of people sometimes.
The second photo I was able to capture, one last photo of Navajo Falls. I set my pack down at the top of the hill and hiked down a little ways to capture just a little more of the beauty the Navajo Falls has to offer. Saying good-bye to this place is hard. The hard part is knowing I have about nine more miles to hike today, but then again, it’s only nine miles. I can do that no problem.
We made it to the village where we filled up on water and used the rest room, where we could actually wash our hands with soap and water. What an amazing feeling!
I left the girls at the village and began my hike. I wanted to get to the switchbacks before the heat came. We had already left 45 minutes later than anticipated. Susan soon passed me and KT and I were going back and forth on the trail passing each other as we took our breaks.
It was getting really hot that last mile before I hit the switchbacks. The heat was radiating off the walls of the canyon. I took one last break before heading up the switchbacks. Climbing uphill with full exposure to the sun was exactly what I didn’t want. I was a mile from the top before I found any shade. As the mules came down the trail, I would stand on the side of the trail in the shade, enjoying my moment of rest.
I made it to the top in 5 hours and 20 minutes. Arriving completely exhausted from the heat. Coming to find out it was only 78 degrees today, but with that sun beating directly on me, it was a hot hard hike.
Coming full circle as this journey is coming to an end. We hiked over thirty miles this weekend in one of the worlds most beautiful places. I couldn’t ask for a better gift from God.
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