Wednesday, August 30, 2006

FAVORITE PLACE #4 - HAVASUPAI, GRAND CANYON

Another favorite place: Havasupai, the Grand Canyon. This is part of the Grand Canyon National Park and also home to the Supai Indians. To the right is a picture of the Havasu Falls. I've been twice and would love to go again. The best time to go is in the spring before it gets too hot. It is also best to hike in the early morning or in the evening, or at night if you have a full moon. It's only about an 8 mile hike from the rim, but the first time I went, we hiked in the middle of the day. I thought I was going to die of thirst - all my water bottles were empty. Then I saw one of my friends ahead drop his pack and start running and I knew we were at the river. It's hard to carry enough water when the temperature is in the 100's. The second time I went it was a month earlier in the year and we hiked at night. No water shortages that time. All this happened a while ago, but then the routine was to make reservations ahead of time to camp in the National Park - if you can't get a campsite there, you can camp on the reservation for a nominal fee. Either way, you check in at the village at the bottom.

This area is know for the water falls and pools. To the left is a picture of the pools below Havasu Falls. Once you get to the bottom and set up your camp, it's play time. Swimming and diving and swinging off a rope. Hiking to the next falls and swimming there. Catching some sun and going for another swim. Get the picture? The water is full of minerals which give it the magnificent turquoise color, but keep it from being potable. No problem though, hike further along the river trail, keeping your eyes on the canyon wall, and look for some watercress. When you find it, you've found the fresh water spring and you can fill your bottles.

Here is Mooney Falls. The canyon is closer here and the falls get less sunlight, but they are even bigger than Havasu Falls. It's a great place to backpack into because you don't need much gear; a bedroll (insulite pad and sheet), swimsuit, shorts and T-shirts, sneakers and flip flops, food and toiletries, MOSQUITO REPELLANT. I've had the most mosquito bites in my life here and the worst bites in my life. Once a mosquito bit me on my eyelid and my eye was swollen shut for almost 3 days! I don't know what makes them so different than others, but they are impressive in their ability to cause misery. Which brings me to socks - you have to sleep in socks - especially if you have sweet blood. I forgot one night and I had 14 bites on one foot and 12 on the other - some were in between my toes. Excruciating.

Here's another view of Havasu Falls. You can hike down to the Colorado River from here, but it is not an easy trek and you'll have to spend the night at the river. But why leave? It's so great where you are. We spent a week in the canyon both times that I went. It's backpacking and it's a relaxing vacation. You should go for a walk in the evening, through the pines, when the bats come out. They play their little bat games, dive-bombing and skimming through your hair. Harmless stuff, but a bit disconcerting if you're not ready for it.
This is definitely another worthwhile destination. From Kingman, AZ - take 66 to Peach Springs. From Flagstaff take 40 east to 66 to Peach Springs. From Peach Springs take the dirt road (it may be partially paved now, who knows?), about 40 miles to the parking lot at the canyon rim. From the rim, hike down - when you come face to face with a canyon wall with a river in front of it, TURN LEFT. Do not turn right, you'll just get lost in the canyons, and you don't want to do that. But that is my only caution - go to Havasupai and have a great trip!

2 Comments:

At 4:09 PM, Blogger robinshvr said...

We are looking for any suggestions you have on getting camping gear for the Lake Havasu trip and the length of time to hike as compared to hike out. Some suggest hike in, helicopter out, but that depends on the money supply. :) We are a family of 4 from Florida (2 adults, 2 kids (ages 13&15), and we want to hike the falls this spring. I love your site. The pictures are spectacular!!!

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Patti Auburn said...

Hi there. I don't know when you posted your comment because I've been away from my blog for a bit. But I'm back now. Thanks for your comment. I would suggest hiking down to the bottom of Havasu - you see so much more on foot. Also - who needs helicopters blowing the dust around and making all that noise. It is more than a day trip though. I would suggest at least 4 days, because once you get down there, it's so much fun. One day to hike down - though it won't take the whole day - one day to hike out... If the weather is hot - mid-June through the rest of summer - you should consider doing you hikes at night - which is really cool when there's a full moon. In any case - make sure you have enough water - more than you think you'll need. It'll be the heaviest thing you carry, but your pack gets lighter as you drink. Once you get to the bottom there are a couple of clean water sources. Your packs can be light if you go in late spring through summer - It doesn't really get cold at night - you'll only need a foam pad and a sheet (to keep the mosquitoes off you - also always sleep in your socks or you'll have moquito bites all over your feet and ankles - in between your toes is the worst!) Easy meals - freeze dried food - backpacker stove - 1 aluminum pot, lots of dried friut and trail mix - remember, you have to pack your trash out. Once you get to the bottom you can set up your camp and then go play and explore. Remember when hiking down - when you get to the river, TURN LEFT - NOT RIGHT! Plan ahead - make reservations with the park - or with the Havasupai tribe if there are no more sites available in the state park section. This should be much easier now with internet-the last time I went, there was no www.

Feel free to email me at pauburn@yahoo.com

 

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