Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Havasupai: Experience and tips


Just a little shameless photography plug before my post: This is Alex. I just LOVE this picture of her and had to share! She was the brave soul that brought her camera and was nice enough to take pictures where ever we went. I have to say her photography is amazing!!!!!!!! I love it! Alex lives up in Utah Valley area so if anyone around there is looking for a photographer I would highly recommend her! I linked her website so you can check out her work:

(Thank you Alex)

I made it out alive!
The hike almost killed me.
Every muscle in my body hurts.
My skin is sunburned.
My toe nails are falling off.
And I don't think I will ever get rid of this dusty feeling.
But I had a blast!

(Thank you Jessica)

Havasupai was easily one of the most beautiful places I have been to! I am not going to lie, I did not take my camera down there so all of these pictures you are seeing were taken by other people in my group. 



(Thank you Alex)

(Thank you Alex)

(Thank you Ashley)

We had such a fun group of people! I loved getting to know all of them! Initially I only knew 4 people in the group. After we all endured the ten mile hike down, packs and all, we sat down around the table and introduced ourselves. After introducing myself, I pointed to my husband, who was a clearing a spot for our tent, and asked "Who is that guy?" We had a short laugh and then joked that I had paid for the deluxe Havasupai package, which provided a mountain man to carry my things, set up your tent, protect you from the wild life and keep you warm at night. Indeed, I had the best mountain man out there and he did his job well! 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting some good old one-on-one time with Mountain Man. I loved hiking and running the trails with him, pushing each other on the ten mile hike to just make it a little further and by far my favorite part was this:



Mountain Man even enjoyed reading the Elizabeth Smart story with me. Most of the time we laid there quietly and read together, but every once in a while I would sneak in the tent and read ahead a chapter or two. I loved seeing the look of disbelief on his face when I confessed I had read ahead. Seriously, that tells you that it's a good book, if this guy wants to read it as much as I do! One of my favorite memories will be the night we tried to turn on our head lamps and read. Light in the night, equals bugs galore!!!!! Finally, we got smart and zipped up our tent to keep any incoming bugs out. But the bugs that were already in the tent would not leave us alone. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people! Anytime a bug landed on the pages of our book while we were reading, I would slam the book shut. Not ideal for keeping your place while reading but between all the giggling and the homemade Venus Fly Trap we smooshed them all and were able to finish our late night reading session, bug free! There is probably a smashed bug on every page between chapters 21-24. What a fun trigger for a good memory!


Now that I have been through the Havasupai experience I have a few tips for those of you who may go in the future.

Here is the packing list my friend pulled from the internet and shared with us all. She got it HERE. There are some other great tips on this site also so go check it out.

CLOTHING
  • Shorts
  • Swim Suit
  • Shirts
  • Long sleeve shirt (one)
  • Hiking Socks (one per day)
  • Flip-flops
  • Hat / Bandana
  • Poncho or large garbage bag (for rain)
  • Water shoes / Tevas / Old sneakers
PERSONAL ITEMS
  • Small Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Blister-Aids
  • Advil / Pain Killers
  • Vaseline / Baby Powder
  • Camera (Extra battery)
  • Toilet paper
  • 2 Large Zip lock bags (pack out trash)
  • MP3 Player / Earphones
  • Sun Glasses
  • Small/Light Towel

EQUIPMENT & GEAR
  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Pillow Case (put clothes in as pillow)
  • LED Flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • Camelback w/ Hydration bladder
  • Aluminum pot
  • Spoon
  • Water filter (if you have one)
  • Stove and Fuel (if you have one)
FOOD & DRINKS
  • PB & J sandwiches
  • Trail Mix / Nuts / Pistachios
  • MRE’s (“Mountain House” Brand)
  • Candy
  • Muffins
  • Granola bars
  • Gatorade powder
  • Gatorade
  • Grocery bag (food storage)
The other tips I would share with you are:

1. Rent the mule. The mule was a little less than $100 but can fit 3 to 4 packs (about 130lbs) on his back. The hike down was H.A.R.D.! Unless you are some incredible hiker who carries a pack around all the time like Mountain Man (C.J.'s new name) and even he was struggling for the last 2 miles. So rent the mule, you will not regret it!! The hike down took 5 long back-breaking hours. It was so tough, we decided that at the end of the week we would put everything heavy in Mountain Man's pack and put enough water and snacks in mine to make it through the hike. We split the cost of the mule with 3 other couples in our group that did the same thing. The hike back, even with the last 2 miles of steep inclines and switchbacks, only took us 2 hours and 45 minutes.

2. Timing of your hike- The time of day that you hike down is really important! We went to Havasupai at the end of May so the heat wasn't excruciating. If you are going mid summer it is going to be H.O.T! Hike in early in the morning. We started our hike at 4:00a.m. Less heat also means carrying less water to keep your body cool, which also means a lighter pack! There was an employee that told us we couldn't start the hike till the first of daylight (but there is no one there to stop you either)so we went ahead and followed suit with a couple other groups who decided to start their descent early. Starting early also gives you more time in the day to explore Havasupai once you get down there!

3. Lounge pool floaties. In the list above it states that you should bring a sleeping pad. I would change this to the long pool floaties you blow up and use in the pool. Those sleeping mats are not soft! They only give you an inch or 2 of hard cushioning between you and the ground! The pool floaties feel more like an air mattress and you can give them to someone else or pop them when you leave so you don't have to pack them again. They are only about $2.00 a piece at Walmart.  Plus they can double as an actual floating device in the water. Crazy, huh? I would bring extra though, Mountain Man and I brought four and lined the bottom of the tent with them and slept across them. By the second day, 2 of them had popped and we were sleeping on 1 each. 

4. Trash bag. Bring a trash bag to put your food in and hang it in a tree. There are no bears or large animals that will threaten to eat you or your food but there are some vicious squirrels! The sooner you get it in the tree and they realize there is no food there for them, the sooner they will leave you alone. I know this sounds weird cause they are just squirrels but DON'T feed the wildlife! They will keep coming back for more and they will find any food they can reach. I am speaking from experience here. They chewed a hole in Mountain Man's pack and stole a Costco muffin so he put all the food in the tent. Then they chewed a hole in our tent and had a Thanksgiving feast! They ate half a loaf of un-opened bread (grandma sycamores), EVERY almond and cashew and yogurt chip out of an un-opened bag of trail mix, as well as 2 more Costco muffins, and they took samples of just about everything else we had.

5. Wipes. There are bathrooms down there so all you women don't need to worry about peeing in the woods. On the list above it tells you to bring toilet paper, I would change this to a small bag of wipes. Your toilet paper is provided in the bathrooms they have down there, but I loved using the wipes to clean my hands after meals and wash the dust and mud off my feet before getting into bed each night.

6. Pack Light. Again if you are taking a mule this will not matter. If you do decided to pack everything in on your own, which is actually what most people do because they don't realize how difficult the hike will be, it is essential to pack light! I know that when you are packing your thinking but this is so light!! And again when you put that pack on your pack and think Oh, I can handle this. Believe me, by the end, I was thinking OH! I SHOULDN'T HAVE PACKED THAT EXTRA TAMPON!!! 

7. Cash for Local Food. I would also suggest bringing some cash. At mile 8 there is Supai Village and they have a tiny cafe that you can eat at. A lot of weight in your pack will be food. If you’re using the mules you won’t have to worry about this, but if you are packing it in, then buying food once you get down there is a great idea. They also have a place you can buy snacks from and a shack right there in camp that makes fry bread and sells cold drinks and snacks. They are very reasonably priced at the shack and cafe so don't worry too much about being taken advantage of. In fact ,I think the snacks in the village were pretty close to gas station prices. 

8. Cooking. Freeze dried meals are nice and light and an easy way to get a meal in.  We used the Mountain House brand and we were actually pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted. They are about $7 dollars a pack but if you get the packs that feed 2 people you can make your dollar stretch a little more. You just have to boil some water and pour it in. For boiling water, I would highly suggest getting a Jet Boil or any other backpacking stove. We used a friends the entire time and LOVED it! It was fast and nice and light at the same time. It also beats packing in a camping stove! You can find a Jet Boil HERE or if you get on camofire.com, they come up every once in a while and you can find some pretty good deals on them.

9. Food. Take food that is light weight. Fresh food weighs a ton because it contains so much water. However, if you bring dried fruit, popcorn, puffed snacks and other light weight foods, your back and legs will be much happier. If you are packing any sort of condiments like peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, mayo, mustard, Neutella and such, one of my genius friends used the method of saving Popsicle wrappers filling them with your desired condiment and then re-sealing them using the heat from her flat iron. Genius, I know!

10.Water- There is a piped spring at the camp site that clean water constantly runs from. The Ranger on site told us that it is tested twice a week to make sure it is clean. He also said "Don't boil it. Don't filter it. You will ruin it." When you are packing only bring enough water for the hike down. For your stay bring empty milk jugs or any other light containers. Having less water in your pack will really lighten your load. Once you actually get down there you can use the water from the spigot.

11.Homemade Lantern- Having light in the evenings is really nice. Everyone in my group grabbed head lamps and wore them around but this makes for a lot of moving lanterns, shining lights in people eyes and bugs flying in your face trying to get to your light. One of the girls in my group had a great idea. Instead of packing down a lantern she filled up her milk jug of water and put her head lamp around the jug. This illuminates the water inside the jug to create a homemade lantern. It didn't give off a really bright light but two was enough to light up the table we all sat around. 

12. Down time- Once you get down to Havasupai you can fill your schedule till it bursts with hikes and other fun things to do or you can just lounge around the campsite and swim in the falls that are near by. Let me tell you, after a 10 mile hike with a 30 lb pack on my back I was not going to take another step once I got there. The day we hiked down no one really wanted to move anymore than they had to so we hung around camp, napped and explored the falls right there in camp. The second day we hiked about a mile to Mooney falls and the third day We finally got up enough strength to hike to Beaver falls which is an 8 mile round trip hike. For the days that you choose to have more down time you will want to bring a book or some card games to keep yourself form getting restless.


Now having given you all the tips I can think of to make your trip more enjoyable I have to say that Havasupai, although THE toughest and most physically exhausting hike I have ever done was an incredible experience and one I would never trade for anything less demanding. I loved it and had so much fun with Mountain Man and the rest of the group!If you ever have a chance to do it I hope you will take the opportunity!



















1 comment:

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