The words AWESOME, AMAZING, SPECTACULAR, BREATH TAKING, LIFE CHANGING, & INCREDIBLE don't come CLOSE to describing my experience. I'm not sure words really can. Be warned I took LOTS of pictures and I'm going to share them ALL with you :)! Seriously, anyone whose ever said "I want to hike the Grand Canyon some day" DO IT DO IT DO IT!!! It is such an experience words can't describe.
Thursday October 22nd:
We set out from home (Phoenix, AZ) at 5PM-Me, my husband Chris, my BFF Kris, and my nephew Brandon.
Everything we brought with us:
We made it to Flagstaff, AZ in record time (6:30PM) and grabbed dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery, a local hot spot. Knowing we were going to be hiking 11 miles the next day, none of us were shy about our calories.
My friend Kris and my nephew Brandon
me and hubby Chris
Can we say "carbing it up?"
After stuffing ourselves silly at dinner, we forged on to Williams, AZ where we stayed the night at the Motel 6. My brother Pat and his long time friend Steve met us there.
My GF Kris was having a hard time with her pack, we did our best to lighten her load, but she was stressing the weight.
It felt better after minimizing her load
Friday October 23rd:
We got up about 6:30AM, geared up, and headed for some power breakfast at the famous Route 66 Diner.
after breakfast we forged onto the trail head with one stop in Seligman, Az.
It was about another 2.5 hours to the trail head (160 miles) and we we're getting pumped!! Kris needed a little energy boost :)
Getting Closer only 60 more miles!
The road to the Hualapai Hill Top
And We're off... Down the 1.5 miles of the 1000ft decent of switch backs...
looking up at where we just descended from
honey took a tumble, but he was okay
after the switch backs it levels out to a more gradual descent into the Canyon. Only 6.5 miles to go to the Supai Village:
Trail Mix on the trail: how fitting
Getting Deeper into the Canyon, the walls getting taller and landscape changing a little.
Can we take these off YET??
Watch out for the horse/mule trains too. You have to get out of their way and QUICK because they WILL run you over. I know because a horse swiped my pack and almost knocked me down.
Getting Closer, after what seemed like forever - we were so happy to see this sign!
The vegetation starting to turn greener
The first sign of the Havasu Creek, so clear and beautiful!!
This sand on the last leg of the 8 mile hike to the Village sucks the life right out of your legs, like walking in quick sand.
Then FINALLY you enter the Supai Village (8.5 miles from the Hualapai Hill Top - we made it in 3.5 hours, two members of our group made it in 2.5). Spending time in the village was like being transported back in time. Its incredible to see such a simpler way of life they have down there. It really makes you think about all the extra things we fill our lives with, yet here are these people living in paradise with only simple basic necessities. Its a very enlightening experience.
After the 8 mile hike we checked in a sat down (felt so good) for some lunch at the Village Cafe.
After a much appreciated rest & food in our bellies we put the packs back on (oooohhhh so hard to do) and headed another 2.5 miles to the Havasupai Campground which included more quick sand and some steep hills. This last little bit to the campground seemed to go on forever! We ran into some people who were out hiking and asked them how much further. They laughed and told us in reality it wasn't far, but for us it would probably feel extremely far! But not to worry because we were close! PHEW!! Then we turned a corner and gasped!!! The first waterfall: Navajo Falls. This is actually "NEW Navajo Falls". The old Navajo Falls was wiped out in the flood of August 08 and this new one was formed. Feet aching, back and shoulders hurting, none if it mattered from this point on b/c THAT was why we were there!! Just GORGEOUS!!
just a little bit further to the campground now til we can take off our packs (for at least a day or so) Just follow the signs:
Not QUITE to the campground still, but you turn a corner and WHAM!!! HAVASU FALLS and it literally takes your breath AWAY!! (100 foot fall - over looking)
FINALLY to camp 4.5 hours total hiking time 11 miles! TA DA!!! WOW I felt sooo accomplished yet SOOO tired and sore!!! Taking that pack off was the greatest feeling ever! After recouping for a few minutes we set up camp and relaxed. Our camp was about half way through the campground right along side a creek. You actually had to cross a little make shift bridge to get to it and it was funny to watch all of us try it with our heavy packs on (balance isn't so great with 30lbs on your back LOL). The campground was very nice. The creek runs right through it so you sleep to sound of water rushing and don't hear anything else. There's a natural spring for your drinking water and even some pretty nice composting toilets. The campground runs through steep canyon walls so there's really no direct sunlight just shady trees and green!!!
the spring water pump - we all drank straight from this and no one got sick
After some R&R it was dinner time. Our food was pretty basic mostly snacks, & things that could be boiled so we ate a lot of ramen and mac N cheese. A few other people brought MRE's which was pretty interesting. Kris ate tuna packets, which didn't sit to well later LOL. Sorry Kris.
Most of us stayed up way past the sun going down and sat around sharing stories, laughing our butts off well into the night. Camping wasn't quite the same with no camp fire BUT I'm glad they don't allow them because the stars were out of this world (literally and figuratively). I have NEVER in my life seen so many stars! It was once again, breath taking!
We finally called it a night and got the best sleep we could sleeping on rafts stiff as heck from hiking all day. We all woke up about 8am - had some breakfast and hung out for a little bit. My nephew brought freeze dried eggs which actually weren't half bad! I just had granola bars and fruit.
Kris and I decided to take a little walk in the early morning sun light to Mooney Falls which was just at the end of the campground about a half mile away. Once again, takes your breath away!! This water fall is 200 feet tall and the only way to access the bottom of it is to scale down the side of a cliff with nothing but rebar and chains! (we'll get to that soon). Kris and I just hung out at the top taking in all its beauty. What a great way to start your day!
This is the view you get walking through the campground to get to Mooney Falls.
After our little sneak peak at the falls we went back to camp to gather the rest of our group to attack the "Chain of Death" and explore more waterfalls. Stevie stayed behind so it was just Me, Kris, Chris, Pat & Brandon doing the exploring. The descent down to the bottom of Mooney Falls is basically a 200 foot climb down the side of a cliff. Nothing but chains, ladders, and rebar steaks to hold onto, and parts of it you actually have to climb through the mountain. This was a pretty spectacular but incredibly precarious and terrifying thing to do at the same time. With the spray from the waterfalls there are parts that are pretty wet, but over all if you take your time its not so bad.
Once you conquere the "chain of death" its yet another breath taking sight. Starring up at the 200 foot water fall with the crystal blue pools below are nothing short of mesmerizing!! This waterfall was drastically changed in the flood, it used to separate into two waterfalls, but the force of the water blew out the formations at the top, so now it is just one waterfall, but still magnificent!
After playing in the falls for a bit and taking in all its beauty, we decided to continue down stream to Beaver falls - which we were told was another 2-3 miles. Some of which you can't do unless you get in the water and walk down stream. Kris didn't want to get in the water so she stayed behind to hang out while we forged on. Chris my husband decided to take the creek the whole way - the rest of us decided to at least stay on dry land for what we could. Not always the BEST idea to separate from the group, but we'll go into that later.
Headed down stream - minus Chris, he's in the water
There he is down below. I hope he realized there's waterfalls down there....
This is where we left Kris to cross the creek. We told her "Stay here we'll come back and get you on our way back" (famous last words to be continued)....
here's another waterfall, now which way?
Low and behold, emerging from the mist like a dream THERE'S CHRIS!! He actually went down a few of those water falls and took the creek all the way down to us (about 2 miles)
it really was like a dream down there with all kinds of things to see and do. We ran into wild life LITERALLY feet away and found a rope swing!!
We ran into several groups of people along the way that were also on a mission to find Beaver falls but had no success. Several of them told us they went miles further with out success. Already having gone down stream 2 miles, and with Kris waiting for us we decided to turn back and go back to camp, skipping Beaver Falls. Note: There are many ways to go back to the falls, you can stay on ground, go through the creek, or a combo of both. We must have taking a different route back because we never found Kris. I figured she got bored and went back to camp. I told everyone not to worry lets just get back to camp "I'm sure she's there". So we hiked the 2 miles back to Mooney Falls, and climbed back up the "chain of death" (much easier to go UP I might add) and went back to camp. UH-OH Kris wasn't there! OH CRAP I just ditched my best friend in the Grand Canyon WHOOPS!! So after just hiking 6 miles I forged BACK through the campground, back down the chain of death, and back down stream trying to retrace my steps as best possible to find exactly where we left her. When I arrived at what I thought was the spot she wasn't there!! OH CRAP AGAIN!!! Then she comes out of the bushes haha!!! I was so happy to see her!! She was worried she had gotten left, but thankful I came back for her. We made the trek back (again for me) up stream, back up the Chain (AGAIN) and back to camp. Disaster avoided. By this time it was about 3:00 in the afternoon and we were famished!! So two packets of ramen, some trail mix, and fruit it was!! Its amazing how good it tastes when you're out in the wilderness!
We hung out the afternoon in the camp site, just taking it all in enjoying each others company. We had an earlier dinner (more mac N cheese and MRE's) and hit the hay about 8:00. The weather could not have been more perfect. At night it was probably mid 50's and during the day mid 70's. I was actually warm in my sleeping bag and tent! The water was cold at first but felt fantastic!
After a good 8 hours of sleep (as best you can sleep on an air raft) we woke up about 6:30 and started to pack up for the hike out. We left the campground about 7:30 am and set out for the village (2.5 miles away). Putting back on the packs were easier this time around. Even though my hips and shoulders were still tender from the hike down, there was a lot less in the pack so it was much lighter and manageable. The hike back to the Village was mostly up hill however so it was sort of a trade off. One the way out though, we got one more look at Havasu Falls and New Navajo Falls.
We all went at our own pace. My brother, nephew and Steve and Kris were ahead of me, and Chris was behind me so for a little while I felt all alone. But still enjoying the scenery.
In an hour flat I made it to the village (2.5 miles). We grabbed breakfast at the Cafe, then paid the helichopter guy $20 to fly out our packs. Well all of us but my Brother and nephew who were up to the challenge of carrying out their own packs. I don't feel too bad about that decision, it was $20 well spent!! Pat & Brandon got a head start on us and took off.
We hit the trail for the Hill Top about 9:30 with just our water which felt SOOO much better!! The hike out's biggest challenge was my sore feet. The over all difficulty wasn't bad at all. The distance was still long and tiring but I felt great doing it! Doing it minus the pack certainly made it easier.
"right around the corner honey you can do it!"
Here we are at the last leg, those switch backs from the beginning, the hardest part. Surprisingly I didn't find it all that difficult, I was more motivated off pure adrenaline to get to the top!!! Boy was it an amazing feeling to do it too!!
Pat, Steve, & Brandon up there at the top - my cheering squad. They were hooting and hollering yelling "yeah go Stacey you can do it" it was cool!
up at the top!! WOO HOO Mission accomplished!!!
I made it to the top in 5 hours! Not bad considering I did the trip down in 4.5 -- the climb out was definatley more difficult! if you didn't notice though Chris is still missing. He fell behind me just before the switch backs. We actually spotted him below us and noticed he wasn't doing so well. He had ran out of water and some good samaratins had stopped to help him.
So I went on my 2nd rescue mission - to retrieve my husband from the Grand Canyon. I climbed about half way back down the switch backs to give him more water and talk him through the last little bit. I was so proud of him though for getting through it despite falling and spraining his ankle half way out!! What a trooper he was!! He made it out in 6 hours!!!
Getting to the car was the greatest sight because it meant FLIP FLOPS!!!! I had never been happier to take off a pair of shoes!! All of us walking around like penguins stiff and sore were certainly a sight LOL!! I only had one war wound a nice blister from my water shoes. That and some pretty bruised up toe nails!!
After packing up, we headed back down the hill to Flagstaff and Oreganos for dinner!
Don't forget dessert - a bazookie!!!
We were all such a sight (and smell I might add) at the restaurant all waddling like penguins, barely able to stand up right. Every time we got up was a new sound or groan LOL. We all headed back down the hill from Flag and back home. We made it back to our house about 9:00 at night. My head hit the pillow at 9:30 and at 9:30 and 30 seconds i was OUT like a light!! Surprisingly enough, today I am not very sore, except my feet and toes, they are still a little tender. But other than that I feel amazing!!
From Hualapai Hill Top To Supai Village: 8.5 miles 3.5 hours 2072 calories
From Supai Village to Havasupai Campground: 2.5 miles 1 hour 744 calories
From Camp to Mooney Falls (Top): 1 mile 1 hour 275 calories
From Camp Down Chains, Down Stream, & Back to Camp: 6 miles 3 hours 1140 calories
From Camp Down Chains, Retrieve Kris, & Back to Camp: 2 miles 1 hour 610 calories
From Camp To Village: 2.5 miles 1 hour 800 calories
From Village to Hualapai Hill Top, Retrieve Chris, Back to Hill Top: 9 miles, 4 hours, 2327 calories
Miles Walked: 31
Calories Burned: 7968
Minutes of Exercise: 14.5 hours or 855 minutes
memories made: a MILLION
All in all the greatest experience to date in my life!! Also the most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever accomplished. I gotta say, if you had told me 14 months ago I'd be hiking the grand canyon I would have laughed so hard I would have cried. Formerly not able to climb a flight of stairs with out wanting to pass out, here I am hiking 31 miles in 2 days! So for everyone out there who doesn't think their dreams are possible -- THEY ABSOLUTELY ARE!!!! I could not have done it with out Spark and all the amazingly wonderful friends I've made on here who have cheered me on and picked me up when I was down. Now its time for the next great challenge - a tri-athatlon, and RIM TO RIM!
Update 10/29/09: 4 days post hike I'm wearing my knee brace -- seems as though all those miles took their toll on my formerly dislocated knee, it also looks as though I might lose one of my big toe nails OUCH!! Its aaaallllll worth it though!!!
Thanks for reading and looking!