Bucket List Item #22: Hike The Grand Canyon - CHECK

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Monday, October 26, 2009

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.

Hubby resting

Silly Me

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

Ready, Set......

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.

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!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great pics and story!! absolutely gorgeous!!!
    3910 days ago
  • ROXIT22222
    WOW! What a great story. I have read some of your blogs and just found this one about your hike. I want to say you are a inspiration! I'm following in your foot steps (so to speak). Our starting weight is about the same and our goal weight is about the same. I just started a few months after you did.

    Now after reading this I want to go HIKE the Grand Canyon. I've always wanted to take my husband there, now maybe that's what we'll do one day, is hike it. I like the fact that you can pay them to fly your pack out for you. That's a great idea. Wonder what it's like in March.
    4180 days ago
    What an amazing journey==thanks for sharing!

    4181 days ago
    Awesome trip, thanks for sharing!
    4182 days ago
    Fantastic log of your GC trip - thanks for sharing! I have friends who hike it every year and I've gotten it in my head that I'd like to join them in 2011. Question for you - how close are you to any drop offs? I have a fear of heights. From your pictures it looks like there are lots of places that are just regular trails. emoticon
    4183 days ago
    Wow, Stacie that is AWESOME!! I'm super proud of you and all the amazing things you have accomplished in the short time I've gotten to know you. And these pics and seeing how long of a hike you did seriously brought tears to my eyes...I'm so inspired that now I want to do that hike too :)!!! Keep up all the great work!!
    4184 days ago
    Wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing them.

    4184 days ago
    Oh wow, what an awesome trip! I already knew I wanted to go back to the Grand Canyon to hike more, but now I know exactly where I want to go. My husband and I would love to do this! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
    4185 days ago
  • SUZY6281
    Thanks for sharing this fabulous experience!! I've just added one more goal to my list of things to do before I die. Now... off to inform the hubby. Ha!

    4185 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3101740
    WOW! That looks amazing! I would love do to that some day! Way to go checking off those Bucket List items!
    4186 days ago
  • BETALM53
    That was soooooooooooooo good I wish I was their. When I get my weight off and my strength back. I want to take up hinting and kyicing. I am an out door person. I guess my goals are 1. to take off 110 lbs. 2. To get more exercise(walking). 3.To be more healthy. I just want to say thumbs up to you all. Betty emoticon emoticon
    4186 days ago
    great narrative and pictures. It is an amazing place, that you never get too much of the view.
    4186 days ago
    W@W!!! What an incredible BLOG!! Thank you so much for sharing. This, too, is on my Bucklet List. Looks like a great group of friends.

    MREs. :: chuckle :: They look questionable on the shelf at the store, but soooooooo good out on the trail! :D

    Thanks again. Very enjoyable.
    4186 days ago
    WOW~wee!!! I don't have time to go back & read others' comments, but surely I'm not the only one with tears in my eyes enjoying your joy!! You did a great job 'walking us though' the Grand Canyon. Thanks.
    4186 days ago
    Thanks so much for sharing!!!
    4186 days ago
    Once again, I love your photo blogs. Hiking the Grand Canyon was something I loved doing ( about 5 years ago) and something I look forward to doing again in the future. Your pictures of the falls and of all of the fun you had are fantastic.
    Thanks for sharing.
    4186 days ago
    Looks fantastic! I had no idea it was such a long hike. Would love to try it one day if we ever get over that way. We're in north Jersey so...
    I'm glad you had such a great time. So whats your next challange... Triathlon? Marathon? emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    4186 days ago
  • STACYR31
    It looks like you had a fantastic trip. You definitly got your exercise in and took some great pics.
    4186 days ago
  • no profile photo DANCERGIRL9763
    Wow!! What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this amazing trip with us!
    4186 days ago
    Wow!!! What a fun trip. I've been to the Grand Canyon twice but never hiked it. I have always wanted to. My DH is from Phoenix but has never been to the Grand Canyon. When we move back in a few months that is where I am taking him. Your pictures were beautiful. Ever since I saw the movie "Bucket List" I've thought about making a list of my own but never did. Your post has inspired me to do that and I am going to make one today. Thanks for the motivation!!!
    4186 days ago
    OMG! There are so many things I want to do... and just always say. Sure. Some Day. Hiking the Grand Canyon among them. Your blog just definitely inspired me to just do it! I will do these things...and not just "some day"!

    I think I will officially make out a "Bucket List" and keep it with my Vision Collage! Awesome, Inspiring and Amazing Photo Blog!
    4186 days ago
    WOW AMAZING!!!!!!!!such an inspiration! great photos! great job! sooooo proud of you! hopefully one day ill be able to do it too!!!! emoticon
    4186 days ago
    i've got to say i never really wanted to go to the grand caynon but seeing your pic's it looks like a lot of fun. love you blogs!! great job on your weight loss.
    4186 days ago
  • AJHOZ1
    Wow what an amazing trip!!! Kudos to you!! I hiked through the Smokies once and the second day was the big hike day and I was one of the last ones to finish but I felt sooo accomplished.. 14.5 miles..I will have to look at adding this adventure to the future!!

    Congrats!!! Beautiful Pictures!

    4186 days ago
    Huge congrats to you. I've been to the Canyon twice and am doing good to look over the edge. LOL It is breathtaking for sure. What great memories! Thanks for sharing. Love it.
    4186 days ago
    Wow, what an amazing adventure!!!!!!!! And congrats on completing it!!!!!
    4187 days ago
    Congrats on your trip!!! We just got back from GC last week after having hiked the Bright Angel Trail. We didn't stay over night but made it to Plateau Point and back in one day. (12miles) The last hour of the hike was at 15% grade. Yikes!! Not bad for a 56 year old.
    4187 days ago
    Congrats on your trip!!! We just got back from GC last week after having hiked the Bright Angel Trail. We didn't stay over night but made it to Plateau Point and back in one day. (12miles) The last hour of the hike was at 15% grade. Yikes!! Not bad for a 56 year old.
    4187 days ago
    Beautiful pictures. Great blog. I really enjoyed it. Almost felt like I was there.
    4187 days ago
    Thanks for sharing that was great with all the descriptions and pictures...I really want to do it one day!!!!
    4187 days ago
    It sounds like an amazing trip! Congratulations on all your hard work, you have come such a long way! The pictures are beautiful, I've never seen anything like those waterfalls. Unbelievable! I'm glad you had a great time. :)
    4187 days ago
    Amazing ~ CONGRATS!!!!!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure!!
    4187 days ago
    Beautiful pics and congrats!
    4187 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6045189
    That's absolutely amazing and definitely on my list of things to do in life! I visited the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago and was completely in awe of its beauty and magnificence. I cannot wait to create the opportunity to hike it! =)

    Awesome job and congrats on reaching one of your goals in life. That's absolutely incredible!

    4187 days ago
    Wow! Beautiful pictures and a great story. I plan to run across the Canyon next October and am adding time to my planned time for the run to allow for more picture taking.
    4187 days ago
    4187 days ago
  • BERGIE8771
    Totally impressed with what you've accomplished! Both this trip and the journey to get to the trip.

    Loved loved loved all the pics. Since I don't expect to ever be able to hike this, I feel like I got a great glimpse into what is it like in the canyon. I've never thot about what is down in the canyon before. (When it was still allowed, I flew out of Flag in a 8-seater sightseeeing plane and we went all thru the canyon to look at the rocks, got tons of pics of rock formations, but never wondered about the bottom.)

    4187 days ago
  • JAMRO16
    Awesome story....awesome adventure....awesome people! Congrats on completing something considered a "bucket list" item....
    4187 days ago
    how awesome! congrats on accomplishing your goal! what a beautiful hike.
    4187 days ago
    Great trip report! Glad you got to check it off your list (and keep all your loved ones safe and sound).
    Your route was a far different one than I made in August - and far prettier, it seems. You got to eat a lot better, too!! Congratulations on conquering the canyon!

    4187 days ago
  • STACEY3940
    I'm so inspired! I'd love to do the Canyon, but to be honest I'd want to ride a mull or fly cuz I'm still where you were 14 months ago. I hope to get to the point where I would attempt something like this. The pics are amazing!
    4187 days ago
    Amazing, I am beyond jealous.
    4187 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2644837
    I LOVED LOVED reading this!
    What an amazing thing to do. You have BEAUTIFUL pictures! The water looks SO clear and so blue!
    From your story I can see what a GREAT person you are and it makes me want to meet you even more some day.
    The fact that you went back for your friend and your husband are a testament to that. YOU ROCK!!!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    4187 days ago
  • MIS2101
    emoticon emoticon
    4187 days ago
    Thank you for posting your story. This is amazing. My dream is to thru hike the Appalachian Trail...someday. I would also like to go hiking through the Grand Canyon.
    4187 days ago
    Awesome blog! Thank you so much for sharing!! I would love to do this, just have to find someone to do it with me! (daughter is afraid of heights, don't know if I could talk hubby into it or not...hmmmm...might have to work on that).
    4187 days ago
    This is amazing!
    4187 days ago
  • LIQUID11
    4187 days ago
    What an inspiration you are! Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories... Now I have a new goal. To retrace your steps at the Grand Canyon! My hubby has finally been inspired by my determination and weight loss. He is coming to the gym with me now and hopefully, with your blog, I'll be able to convince him to start preparing for a trip to the Canyon. Keep it up girl! You look beautiful! emoticon
    4187 days ago
  • LUNA2000
    What an Awesome recount of a Beautiful & Amazing trip! Thank you so much for sharing! With such description and wonderful pictures, you've given me a new goal to work toward!! emoticon Woo-Hoo!!

    ~Leslie emoticon
    4187 days ago
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