Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Survived Havasupai Falls - With Pics!

When I first moved to Arizona years ago, a friend of mine showed me a photo of Havasupai Falls and I remember thinking: I gotta go there!  The waters were blue; the surrounding terrain, magnificent.  Over the Labor Day weekend, I got my wish.

Havasupai Falls is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon just past the Supai village on the south side of the canyon and is only accessible by foot, helicopter, or horse.  It's the most remote place in the United States and home to only a few hundred Havasupai.  To enter, you need permission from the Havasupai, which is an American Indian tribe that has called the Grand Canyon home for the last 800 years. 

We spent the first two of the five days of our trip at the top of the Grand Canyon, hiking the rim and enjoying the creature comforts of the historic El Tovar Hotel and the Grand Canyon village.  It rained.  A lot.  But, oh my, this was my fourth trip to the Grand Canyon and it did not disappoint.  It truly has earned its place as one of the wonders of the world.

Here's Craig and me, still smiling (and pre-grungy) at the El Tovar Hotel, before our muscles and bones became as sore as they'd ever been before our hike into the Supai Village two days later...

On the third day, our awesome wilderness guide, Megan Anderson, from the Arizona Outback Adventures, drove our group of nine to the Hualapai Hilltop.  To reach the trailhead, you drive along Historic Route 66, where you pass places like The Road Kill Café and other kitschy shops and motels in Seligman, Arizona.  But, finally, you reach the hilltop and it looks like this and you begin to question your sanity and you start to get a little nervous.  There is a roughly 3000 foot descent to the Supai village:

There were nine wonderful people in our group.  Some chose to take the helicopter; others chose horseback. Craig and I were crazy enough to decide to hike it.  To reach the Supai village, it's a roughly 8 mile hike.  You hike down seemingly vertical switchbacks and then river banks surrounded by red rocks and canyons and you start to think: dear gawd, I've got to hike out of this place at some point! You feel like you've become an extra in that old movie One Million Years B.C. with Raquel Welch.  Remember that one?  You don't see a soul.  A whisper sounds like a shout.  The sky is cobalt-blue.  Here's Craig somewhere during the hike, probably looking up at a helicopter, cursing the day he agreed to hike the canyon with me.

But, trust me, the hike was so worth it.  And, yes, hiking down is definitely a lot easier than hiking out!

Finally, after drinking almost three liters of water and feeling like our shoulders would break off from our backpacks, we reached the Supai Village where there are things like a tiny café, a post office that receives mail only by mules, a smattering of modest homes, a small school, and lots and lots of horses and dogs.  It looks like this:

The Supai don't appreciate photo-taking inside their village so this is the only one I snapped.  It was taken just as we approached the village.  Tired, thirsty, and sweaty, we had another two mile hike past the village until we reached the campground.

But then we started seeing the blue waters, the ones I remembered from my friend's pictures years ago...

And the water is literally blue.  These photos don't do them justice.  The water is blue because of the travertine in the water.  You just want to dive in and never get out.

Another two miles later and I finally saw Havasupai Falls!

The Falls. Are. Awesome!!!!!

Oh, yeah. There was some camping.  Here's where our group of nine camped, right against the canyon.  Camping?  Well, er, that's another story.  I'm not much of a camper.  But as far as camping goes, this was pretty cushy, or so I'm told.  Our guides, Megan and Chris, cooked up three amazing meals a day and took us to hidden mines and other falls during our stay.  I wish that I could say I lost a few pounds on this trip but, well, I can't. :)

Yesterday, we had to hike the 10 miles OUT of the Supai Village.  Craig and I were a little nervous.  Could we do it?  Four out of the ten miles are pretty tough.  The last two miles nearly killed me.  I kept looking up for the hilltop, wondering when we'd ever reach it.  I even got a little dizzy on the last 100 yards.

But, we did it.  And my body today feels like it's been through a grinder.  Oh, so worth it.

If you get the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon and/or hike down to Havasupai Falls, do it.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not much of a camper, but that would be worth it. Wow, those people live down there? Their town must be completely self-sufficient. Did you guys swim near the falls?
Hiking might've made you sore, but can you imagine if you'd ridden a horse? You would not be able to walk today. Or tomorrow!

Liz Fichera said...

Alex, the Havasupai have to get their food (that they don't grow themselves) and supplies either helicoptered in or packed in by mules.

Walking today is difficult. I should get to the grocery store but I don't think that'll be happening. ;-)

Murees Dupè said...

It looks absolutely wonderful. I think you are really brave to have opted for the hiking route. I am too lazy, but loved the fact that you could share the experience and pictures with us. It really looks like a magical place.

CA Heaven said...

Looks great. I've never had the chance to visit Grand Canyon, unfortunately. I've been fly-fishing in the same river, though, near Colorado River head waters >:)

Cold As Heaven

Liz Fichera said...

Craig does a lot of fly-fishing on the Colorado. This hike though was a different ball of wax for him. Fortunately, he's still talking to me. :)

Amy Jarecki said...

Looks like such an excellent experience, Liz...and I'll bet you have many stories to tell!

J E Oneil said...

Beautiful pics! That must have been an amazing trip. You're so lucky :)

James Garcia Jr said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing. I'll just be happy to see the Grand Canyon, let alone hike inside! Shame on me, right? Lived in California 44 years and have yet to make that trip. *sigh* One of these days!


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Danette said...

I've seen pics of these falls and think it would be a wonderful trip but I'm not sure about hiking down- I mean if you can ride down I might just do that rather than make that hike back up because I know how grueling that hike back up would be. I admire you for doing that for your vacation. I don't think I would have! Cheers!

mshatch said...

Wow that sounds like a fun trip. The Grand Canyon is on my list of places I want to visit.