Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This past weekend we had the opportunity to go backpacking into Havasupai.  It was our first real backpacking trip (I say it was real.  I was informed by one of the hardcore backpackers on the trip that hiking ten miles and staying somewhere for several days is not actually real backpacking.  Real backpacking entails ten or more miles per day.  Nevertheless, it was real enough for me.)

If you're unfamiliar with Havasupai, it's a beautiful area located in Havasu canyon which is a subsidiary to the Grand Canyon.  It's located inside a native american reservation, and is maintained by the natives.  To get there you have to hike in 10 miles, but once you are there, there is a campground with waterfalls, a freshwater spring, a beautiful river, plenty of hiking and swimming opportunities, and just general awesomeness.  I'll share a few of the most memorable experiences from the trip, in chronological order.

Hiking In
We arrived at the parking lot about 9:00 at night.  One thing you do not want to do is make this hike during the day, because the heat will kill you.  It took us 20-30 minutes or so to get all the backpacks out, get changed into hiking clothing, and get ourselves ready for the hike, so we started hiking around 9:30 in the evening.

The campground is about ten miles from the parking lot.  It's 8 miles to the village of Supai, and an additional 2 to the campground itself.  Hiking in is primarily downhill, but between hiking in the dark and hiking through sand, I was having a hard time of it.  I was so tired, I was pretty sure I would die.  (I suppose it also didn't help that we were making the long trek after a long day of driving.)  Despite being exhausted, look what a cute hiker I was.

The ten miles get way longer when you get caught in a repeating gif image.

Sleeping in The horse's bathroom
You aren't supposed to camp on the trail.  You're only supposed to camp in the campground.  So we're not going to call it camping.  Let's just say that we stopped to take a nap after about 7 miles.  The place where we stopped had an abundance of horse droppings.  We didn't think much of it.  We each just made sure that we weren't laying on top of any of the droppings.  In the middle of the night, several wild horses wandered into our little napping space (not a camp).  They neighed at us in a very cranky manner.  We should have realized that we were in their bathroom.  I would be cranky too if I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and there were 12 people sleeping there.

The bats
The bats were one of my favorite things on this trip.  I've never seen them in such numbers.  At night you could catch a glimpse of one or two, and you could definitely hear their little chirps, but first thing in the morning you could lay and look at the sky and see dozens of them flying around catching bugs.  I figure as long as they don't turn into vampires, and they eat the bugs that eat me, I will always be friends with the bats.  Especially since they're so cool to watch.

My first view of the river
I'd been told that the water in Havasupai is beautiful, but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it actually was.  The water has a deep turquoise color.  It honestly looks like ocean water.  The word on the street is that it's caused by the high limestone content.  All I know is that my first glimpse of the river took my breath away.

Picnics in the river
I ate as many meals as I possibly could in the river.  Why would you eat (or do anything) in the heat of the area known as "not the river" when you could be doing things in the river.
This is the proper way to have a picnic.

Havasu Falls
As we were hiking into the campground, I had several views of the river and of waterfalls.  But that didn't stop Havasu Falls from taking my breath away.  It's absolutely stunning, and pictures don't do it justice.

The Ladder of Death
One of the prettiest waterfalls is called Mooney Falls.  (Apparently, it's named for a guy named Mooney who tried to climb down it and died, kind of like Clayton ravine from Back to the Future.)  To get down to it, they have built a descending stair of death.  It involves ladders, going through caves, and mostly just trying to avoid death as you descend a couple hundred feet almost vertically.

The sign warns you beforehand that you might die.
You go through tunnels where it's likely you'll be eaten by Shelob.

Some areas have chains you need to hold onto.
This is looking up at the bottom third of it, which is the most treacherous part.

Mooney Falls
Once we got down to Mooney Falls we spent the whole day there, because I was not going up and down the ladder of death twice.
Look how precious we were.

It's important to lay in the water and take pictures of my feet.

Rope swing
From Mooney falls we headed down the river, to see what we could see.  The first thing we encountered was a rope swing.
Robyn grabs the rope

And she releases it gracefully

My dismount was less graceful.

Trekking Down the River
From there we just hiked down the river.  We jumped off cascades when we encountered them.  We waded through shallow parts.  We swam through deep parts.  It was super fun.
Look at my adventurous wife!

The Shower
We found a little outcropping that totally functioned like a shower.
I told Dave to do a Maybelline pose.  He should be a model.

But Robyn is still cuter, even without the Maybelline pose.

Jumping off the falls
Robyn and I both jumped off of lower Navajo Falls.  It took me a while to get the courage but I did it.

Here's me.

Here's Robyn

How cute is it that she screamed on the way down and then screamed when she came up because she wasn't done screaming?

Upper Navajo Falls
I had tons of fun playing in the upper falls.  When we first walked up to it, I figured it was too hardcore to play in.  It turned out that it was one of my favorites.  We swam under a little ourcropping that made a little cave.  We showered in it, we swam against the current.  It was great.

About to head into the mayhem.

Sometimes I hide from waterfalls with the safety of rock
I was important to do a He Man pose in the maelstrom.

Erin and Robyn making the waterfall cuter.

Robyn had to make the waterfall more precious than you can possibly imagine.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. There were a few negatives. One girl spilled boiling water on herself and burned herself super bad. Some squirrels got into the same girl's food, ate some of it and pooped on what they didn't eat. One girl said she didn't like bacon. (It broke my heart. I told her I would turn the car around and end her precious trip real soon.) But other than that, I'd say it was amazing.

There are way too many cool pictures for a blog post, so watch Facebook for the rest of them.  (I'll get them posted soon.  Don't rush me.)  And if you're really lucky, I might even blog about how we got out of the canyon.  (You think we walked?  Who would do that?)


  1. Wow. How did I live in Utah and never do this?!!!!!!!!! Bucket list!

    1. I should note that the parking lot is about an 11 hour drive from my house, and the campground is a good 4-5 hour hike from there. It's certainly closer than your house in Canada, but it's not in Utah, and it's not super accessible. You should definitely go, though.

  2. This looks incredible! Thanks for sharing your adventures!


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