Friday, August 1, 2014

Escaping Havasupai

We had a fabulous time in Havasupai.  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  That meant that we had to make a decision as to how we were going to get home.  I knew how we were going to do the 11 hour drive, it was going to happen in our car that was still parked in the parking lot.  The decision we had to make was how to get to the parking lot ten miles away.

One thing I knew for sure was that I wasn't going to carry my backpack for ten miles back up the canyon.  The first option I considered was to hire some mules to carry our packs and we could hike out only carrying our own body weight.  (Believe you me, I have plenty of body weight, so that would have still been a workout.)

However, Robyn was starting to get some blisters, and though we probably would have been fine, we realized that we weren't going to be able to change our minds five miles in, so we decided to play it safe and take an easier option.  We elected to charter a helicopter and fly out.  (Can we all just agree that flying is more awesome than walking?)

We woke up extremely early on our last day.  Those of us in our group that were hiking wanted to get an early start so that they could avoid hiking in the heat of the day.  We wanted to get an early start so we could be first in line for the helicopter.  So we woke up at about 3 AM.  But let's be honest, I was a cranky boy when I had to get out of that tent at that hour.

Since others in our group were hiking ten miles, I agreed to carry some of their stuff.  It made my pack heavier, but theirs could be lighter for their long hike.  I had no way of weighing the pack, but I would guess it weighed somewhere in the 50-60 pounds range.  The helicopter is in the village of Supai, which is 2 miles from the campground, and it's a pretty good climb to get there, so it was some hard work to carry that pack for those 2 miles.

Robyn commented that with the heavy pack I probably weighed about what I used to before I lost all the weight.  It turns out I was sweating about like I used to when I was 300 pounds.  I would stop and bend over to rest.  The headlamp I was wearing had sweat just dripping off of it.  It's gross, but that's the sort of realism you've come to expect from this blog.

We finally made it to where we could book the helicopter.
Robyn snapped this pic of me as I set down my giant pack.  I was a tired boy.

When I talk about the helicopter, you're picturing a well run charter company that has things like schedules that make sense.  STOP IT!  Stop imagining that right now.  It's not real.

If you're going to imagine things that aren't real, perhaps you should picture something like me frolicking in a meadow filled with fairies and unicorns.  Or maybe me riding on a dragon as it spews forth a pillar of fire.  Or maybe an animal that can produce multiple delicious foods such as ham, bacon and pork ribs.

What did you say?  That last one was real?  Wow!  Miracles never cease.

Anyway, the point is that a well run, well scheduled charter company in Supai is a fantasy.  Also, bacon is delicious.

This thing was not well run at all.  When we signed the paper to get in line, we asked when the helicopter would come.  They had no idea.  It was going to get there when the pilot felt like it.

So we waited.

I had plenty of time to take selfies with the horses eating their breakfast on the helicopter pad.
We had no idea how long our wait would be, so we just hung out.  I laid down and took a nap.  I listened to people around us argue about things they did while they were drunk.  It was good times.

Eventually, a big dude came and started spraying the dirt road where all our packs were sitting.  We quickly scurried to get them out of the way, so naturally he kept chasing us further and further away.  I guess it was so that the helicopter wouldn't kick up the dust, but he didn't bother to explain what was going on, he just yelled "PACKS!" as he started spraying our packs.

Then, after chasing us far, far away, he started yelling, "First six get ready!"  We had about 30 seconds to gather all of our stuff together and get on the helicopter as it landed.

We jumped on and like any helicopter company would, they just piled our packs on top of us.  It was a really high quality service we were paying for.

Despite the fact that I was not impressed with how the service was run, the view from the helicopter was beautiful.

The trail that we totally weren't on.

The helicopter dropped us in the parking lot, just a few hundred feet from our car.  A few hundred feet is a way better distance than the 8 miles we would have done.

It's important to get a selfie with the helicopter.
When it landed, I got out of the chopper and turned to help get the packs off of the people that were still inside.  A big native dude told me to stop and step aside.  Like a good kid, I got out of the way assuming that he would help them, and that I would just get in the way.

Remember what I said about the fantasy of the well run company?  Well, that fantasy included logical things like him helping the girl with the nasty burn on her leg to get the heavy pack off of her and helping her out of the chopper, so clearly it didn't happen.  He pushed me out of the way so that I could watch them fend for themselves.

Oh well.  Everyone lived, and we have a great story to tell.  Next time I ride a helicopter, I think I'll do it in Hawaii with a more legit company.  Nonetheless, I had a great time.

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