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adventures

backpacking le grand canyon

One of my faults, besides being brutally honest (sorry, not sorry), is being completely incompetent when it comes to organizing events. I’d invited several friends from several different states who wanted to join in on the adventure to backpack the Grand Canyon at Havasupai Falls. Where is everyone going to stay? How are we all going to get up to the Reservation? After almost six months of very vague planning, I told everyone where I was going to be and when. It was too late, though. Other plans had been made, not enough notice to get off from work, etc. I did the hike by myself which worried a lot of people, but I don’t know why. It’s such a well travelled area, and on my 10 mile descent I counted twice as many females as males. The only problem I encountered was with a crow. More on that later… 

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Many don’t know that the Supai Reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is home to 400 people. They use mules to bring down their supplies, and some backpackers even pay to have their packs taken down for them (cheaters!). This was cute and charming and all… but beware: you will be dodging land mines for 20 miles.

The descent into the canyon was fairly easy, about two miles downhill which is mostly unshaded. The weather at the beginning of November was perfect, so I wasn’t terribly bothered by it. The rest of the hike was flat, with a very thick bed of loose rocks enveloped by giant orange canyon walls. I’d have to “pull over” at the sight or sound of the mule-train coming. It was such a unique experience, one that I had dreamed about for so long. It was a picture of what the old days must have looked like.

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As we neared the town, I made my way to the visitors center to pay for my two night stay. I got the sense that the village, much like myself, is stuck in the 90’s. I passed a woman wearing baggy clothes who had some speakers in her Jansport backpack. Aah, a familiar sound. Snoop DOGG. I had to chuckle. No matter how far I try to get into the wilderness, you will be reminded its still 2014 and even a small village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon knows and loves their rap. Besides that, Zita made friends with these local horses who came from the other side of the field to sniff sniff.

I didn’t quite make it to the campsite before dark, but I found a spot to set up camp for the night. I was held up in the morning leaving Phoenix because my friends made me a beautiful hiking stick made out of Saguaro cactus. Picking the hiking stick up (it’s now named Warren G) in rush hour traffic set me off a couple of hours, but it was well worth it. Along the way to the official campsite, I passed the beautiful Havasupai Falls. I can’t get enough of these waterfalls!! Besides their bright blue waters, I couldn’t understand where the hell all this water was coming from. Natural beauty is such an amazing gift.

I found a sweet camping spot thanks to a backpacker who was taking off as I was coming in. The river split into two, leaving a small chunk of land with flowing water on both sides of my tent. After setting up camp, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself so I started wandering around. I’d see a picnic table on the other side of the river, but no obvious way to get there. How does one get to the picnic table? I must know! It felt like a scavenger hunt. Bear and Zita love crossing the river, it’s like running up and down the stairs but in the wild. We had fun exploring the area, but when it came to exploring Mooney Falls I had to leave the kiddos behind.

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I spotted the railing first, followed by the “Descend at own risk” sign. If I hadn’t been told about the spray painted arrows pointing the way, I might not have noticed them. Then there were two cave-tunnels to pass through, to be met with descending straight down a muddy and wet ladder with slippery (yet secure) chains to hold on to. Eek. Eek. Eek. I’m terrified of heights, but it was a much grander water fall than Havasupai and I didn’t come all this way for nothing! Once I safely descended, I followed the river climbing around and crossing where I could. I have zero interest in rock climbing, but I feel like I bouldered my way to a secret little spot where I took a quick and chilly dip into the limey water.

The whole month and a half I’d been on my road trip I was surviving mostly on Top Ramen, beef jerky, dried nuts and fruits, and water. I don’t know why I thought that would sustain me hiking 20 miles, but it didn’t. While in Colorado, I bought a fancy $11 dried spaghetti meal. I didn’t have money to have $11 meals every evening, but I figured I’d save the fancy dinner for the biggest adventure. I got the campsite cleaned up and ready for dinner and walked around with the doggies to take pictures. When I came back to the campsite the bag of spaghetti was missing. Being that I didn’t think someone would just straight up take my spaghetti, I started investigating. A damn crow had broken into it and spread it all over, he and a buddy crow were chowing down on it. OH HELL NO! I called B+Z over and let them eat it, which they happily did. So a crow ruined my dinner. I was so mad I didn’t eat anything that night.

The ascent was much more difficult, especially being that I wasn’t really eating enough and didn’t have the right foods. We all made it though, and I’d love to go back one day. Finally I can say “I did that!” instead of “I want to do that!” Below are photos of the official (and unofficial) King and Queen of the Supai village. One looks over and protect the land and the people, the other barks at mules and eats their poop.

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