Throwback Thursday- Havasupai
After coming across the viral Facebook post about the clear blue waters running through the Grand Canyon, we knew we had to plan a trip to see it for ourselves.
The Havasupai Indian Reservation is available by permit only. They open their reservation books on February 1st, and the entire year sells out within a matter of days.
This year reservations were available for online booking, and every time we went to check out our date was no longer available. We finally received a confirmation that our reservations had been made for May 9th -11th. We couldn't believe our group of 6 was actually able to reserve a camp site for 2 nights at the infamous Havasupai Indian Reservation.
This would be the first backpacking trip for any of us so over the next few months we scoured the internet for tips and acquired everything we thought we could possibly need, while also being conscious that we would have to carry all of these items 10 miles from the trailhead to the campsite.
We began the 7 hour drive from Murrieta to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop where we camped the night before we hiked in.
We had been watching the weather in the days leading up to our trip and were anticipating rain. On the drive in we were literally racing the storm clouds.
I have never been to the Grand Canyon, and I could not believe this place actually exists. The sunset that first night was absolutely incredible.
We ate a banana and set out on the 10 mile trail at 5:30am, just after sunrise. The first 1.5 miles is a steep decline of switchbacks until you hit the floor of the Grand Canyon.
The next 4.5 miles are pretty flat, but the ground is rocky and you have to watch your step.
Photos don't do any justice to the soaring height of the canyon walls.
Once we got the the 6 mile mark there was a rock that told us we were 2 miles from Supai. We all got a second wind as we knew we were getting closer.
We were greeted by a tribal ranger on horseback that let us know we were getting closer.
Once we arrived in the village of Supai there was a small market where we stopped for breakfast burritos before we continued further into town to check in at the reservation office.
All of the tribe members we spoke to were extremely kind. It was humbling to walk through the village where life is so simple. There are no cars in the village, and a small population of approximately 200 tribe members live there.
As we made our way through the village we expected to finally come across a waterfall around every bend. The sand was much softer in the village and it made the hike much more difficult. The hike from the village to the campground is just over 2 miles, and aside from the steep incline we knew we faced on the way back to the trailhead, I think this was the most difficult part of the hike. We were all anxious to reach the campsite and our packs started to feel very heavy.
We came across Little Navajo and a little further down the trail we finally reached Havasu Falls.
Havasu Falls is the most easily accessible waterfall located at the beginning of the campground. It is just over 100 feet tall.
We hiked a bit further and found a perfect secluded campsite up on higher ground away from the main trail. We had to cross a few makeshift wooden bridges to get there.
As soon as we set up camp the rainstorm we had been anticipating caught up to us. We spent a few hours napping in our tents, and it was still raining when we woke up.
Most of the food we brought were MRE packs that required boiling water to re-hydrate the ingredients. We had a brief moment of panic when were unsure if we could even use our small jet boil camp stoves in the rain.
After a granola bar didn't hold us over well, Joe went out in the rain to boil some water. We sat in our tent and ate our Mountain House meals. Joe had mac & cheese and I ate a spanish rice and chicken. My main concern was the meals with meat, but they were surprisingly tasty.
After eating and a game of Uno the others were still asleep so Joe and I walked over to Havasu Falls in the rain. Thankfully I had stopped at Target the morning we left and grabbed a windbreaker which helped repel the water and kept me dry while we explored the campground.
We never experienced a hard rain, but a few hours of a constant drizzle.
We brought water shoes which were perfect for the day hikes around the reservation.
Once the others woke up we decided to explore the campground a bit more and were surprised how quickly we came up on Mooney Falls. We had originally planned to leave that hike for day 2.
Mooney Falls is 200 feet of pure power and beauty. I am terrified of heights so I wasn't able to get close enough to the edge to get a look, but there is a small trail that takes you down to a lower view point.
If you continue down the trail along the cliffs you travel through a small cave and down a set of primitive ladders that take you to the swimming hole at the base of Mooney.
With the weather still cloudy and cool we explored a bit behind our campsite and found some caves and an old dried up waterfall.
Joe and I hiked into the village on day 2 while the others went down to Mooney.
The hike from the campground to the village was further and steeper than we remembered when we came in, so we were slightly dreading hiking out the next morning with our full packs.
In the village we had cell reception, so we took the opportunity to call home and check in on the kids, as well as check a few emails.
We stopped by the post office hoping to mail a postcard home to the kids since Havasupai is the only place in the states where mail is still carried in/out on horseback. Unfortunately the post office was closed.
We went to the market and grabbed a few Gatorade's and Snicker bars for the group. When we got back to the campground we ran into the rest of the group. The sun was out and we were excited to finally get in the clear blue water.
Everything in Havasupai is brought in by mule or helicopter. It was amazing to watch the helicopters maneuver around within the canyon walls to haul out trash bags from the campground.
I still get flashbacks of Havasupai when I hear a helicopter.
On our last night at camp we had clear weather so we sat around the picnic tables and made smores.
We woke up in the morning and packed up our campsite and hit the trail around 5:30am. When we got to the village the others stopped for breakfast. There was already a large crowd waiting for the market to open so Joe and I went on ahead. Stopping for just a few minutes was causing our legs to cramp. We made good time and although the skies were clear the canyon was still mostly shady.
The switchbacks up the steep incline to the trailhead were by far the most difficult part of the hike out. We were so relieved when we reach the top, but at the same time we wanted to turn around and hike right back in.
The rest of the group made it up to the trailhead about an hour after us, and just like that our epic trip to Havasupai was over!
Now that we have one trip in the books we are better prepared for what to bring, what to expect, and are ready for the next trip!
(Some photos are courtesy of others in our group!)
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