Havasupai Falls

The day after our 19th year wedding anniversary we set out to complete my final resolution for the year, seeing Havasupai Falls.
 Our adventure loving friends Aimee and Bill were ready to roll!
 It was a 5 hour drive to the closest accommodation near the trail head.  I booked the Caverns Bunk House.  Online it seemed like the best option.  It was a two room house with a kitchen.  Comparable rooms were the drive up Motel style that were reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho!  However, once we arrived it was dark and we were direct to drive a mile from the main Motel up a dirt road.  We found the little house and were sure we were the next victims!  It was an interesting night and I am no longer in charge of securing accommodations for the group. :)
 Since we couldn't check into the hotel at the bottom of the canyon until 1pm, we decided to have a leisurely breakfast and then hike down.
 As the heat approached 100 degrees during our 8 mile hike, we realized that was not the best idea.
 We figured we had made a mistake when we only saw one other group hiking in and they were a foreign tour group.
 We sought shade and shelter at every chance!
 We had read about the numerous dogs that run freely in the village but we were surprised to meet some so far out on the trail. They hung out in the shade with us to see if we might give them a treat.  I tried to give them some water but they were not interested in water, they wanted our trail mix.
 As the hours ticked by I started to get worried.  We had been out hiking in the heat for nearly four hours and no sign of the village or water.  Why was it taking so long?  It was downhill and we had just recently done the Grand Canyon in double the time.
 Finally we saw a sign for the village!
 Check in was quite the process.  The reservations system is antiquated where you call them (getting a busy signal for months), when you finally get a hold of someone they take your information and a small deposit, at some point (months later) they send you a piece of paper with your confirmation and remaining balance.  You must bring this piece of paper with you or they will promptly make you turn around and hike back out of the canyon.
After waiting an hour in line for the people who arrived before us to check in, the woman tells us whoever sent the paper did the math wrong and it will be $300 more if we want to stay.  What!?  Well, I suppose there is no arguing since there are no other places to stay unless we wanted to hike back out 8 miles and drive an hour back to the Bunk House.  We paid and went to our rooms.
After changing into our swimsuits as fast as we could we headed to the first falls, which are the Little Navajo Falls.  We were so happy to be in the refreshing water, we just lounged around and cooled off for hours.  We had our own turquoise cooling tub in the most beautiful setting, who needed to see Havasu Falls!
 As the sun continued its slow decline East we decided we should probably hike another mile to see the famous Havasu Falls.
 It was worth it!

The pictures don't do it justice.  The contrasting hot red rock with the cool turquoise water is so beautiful.
We had fun playing at the waterfall until our tummies began to rumble.  We had also read that while the posted hours for the cafe are one thing, the actual opening and closing is at the whim of the Havasuapi people.  We wanted to be sure to get something to eat so we would not be eating more granola bars for dinner.
The best part of hiking here is whenever you get hot, you just jump in some water.  We took a dip right before we headed back into town.  Hiking in my bathing suit was a new adventure.  But you are so hot you don't really care and I am 40 now so I really don't care!  LOL
 The Supai Taco would be my main meal for two days!  Every night I looked forward to this delicious taco on Indian Fry bread.
 Indeed the cafe would run out of things since everything has to be transported in and out via helicopter or horses.  I was grateful each night we were able to order a Supai taco and a coke, even if it was 12 bucks. I would have gladly paid $20 not eat trail mix!   On our last night we were the last guest to be served.  They decided to close an hour early much to the dismay of the group behind us.
 On our second day we headed out early to conquer Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls.
 Originally Max and I wanted to hike all the way to the confluence where the Colorado River meets the Supai waters.  We decided we were not up for hiking 11 miles one way when we had to hike 8 miles out of the canyon the next morning.
 Mooney Falls was a 3 mile hike from our lodge.
The climb down was a test for our weary bodies.  There were chains to hold onto but not all of them were securely anchored so when you pulled some gave a little.  
 We took it very slowly and were extra careful.
 The spray from the waterfall made the side of the mountain wet and slippery just for a little extra challenge.
We made it down safely but without the sun it was actually a little too cool to play in so we decided to continue hiking onto Beaver Falls.
 Beaver Falls was another 2 miles.  We thought we had found it and took a lunch break in a beautiful pool with falls.  Then people kept coming by asking how much further to Beaver Falls.  We thought we had found it.  Much to Bill's dislike we pressed on and found the real Beaver Falls!
 It was a paradise.  After being so hot and tired to cool yourself and swim in the prettiest water was awesome.
 We didn't want to leave.  I was very happy that we had not planned to try and make it to the Colorado River.  We still had 8 miles to trek back.  The hottest part was through what I named the grapes of wrath.  It was endless fields of wild grapevines.
 We had run out of water at this point and only had frozen gatorades.  I was getting hot so we decided to hike down to the river.
 We found a waterfall to cool off in and also realized we could have skipped hiking up in the hot grapevines and trecked up through the river. 
 We continued in the river until we hit Mooney Falls.  Now that it was in the sun, it was lovely to relax in and finish our time in Havasupi.

We continued our way back to the lodge.  I have to say seeing this wonder was truly amazing, satisfying, and so much fun.  However, seeing the conditions of the Havasupai tribe was saddening.  I felt very sorry for these people who are essentially trapped in the canyon.  There is no industry except tourism.  So if you don't own or work in the general store, the cafe, the helicopter transport, mule service, or the lodge, there is nothing to do.  People are just sitting around passing the day, too bored to even communicate with each other.  Even the ones working in the tourism areas are unhappy and unfriendly.  I don't blame them.  How would I feel with people coming in constantly staring at my home and leaving their trash for me to pick up.
If they leave the reservation they lose their government aid.  We have created a tribe of people that have no incentive to work because the minute they do, they lose everything they have.  The poverty for some was remarkable.  People wait at the hotel daily to have first dibs on the food and items left in the lodge by the travelers.  Free food in the lobby for those who need or wanted it.  Some of the horses were well taken care of and some looked starved with sores on their backs from overuse.  When I read about the history of the Suapai tribe, I felt so terrible for how their way of life was completely disrupted and pushed aside and how that has left them trapped in the government system.  They are especially isolated in that the only way in or out is by hiking 8 miles or having the means to take the helicopter.  Then once you get to the top you have to have a car.  There are obviously no cars in the canyon so most probably never learn to drive.  Even if they have someone that does drive it is another hour to a town with a gas station and store.  However, it is still very remote from Williams.  I left Havasupai with a feeling of being trapped.  They are trapped in the canyon physically and financially.
 The next morning it was time to get out of the canyon.  We were not going to be stuck hiking out with the burning sun and 100 degrees like we did coming in.  We got up at 3:30 am to get on the trail!
 This sweet little puppy hung out every night with us at dinner.  He fell asleep at my feet as we gazed at the stars.  As we left he followed us.  I begged Max to let me take him with us.  He said if he followed us all the way to the car he could come home with us.  I named him Supai.  About halfway up he decided it was time to turn back home.  I imagine he would prefer his life of roaming free and getting treats from all the hikers.
 Oddly we hiked out faster than we hiked in.  The heat is really an enemy.  We learned the same afternoon that we hiked out a man collapsed from heat exhaustion.  Fellow hikers got him onto one of the horses that took him to the top where he was then airlifted to Flagstaff Medical Center and then pronounced dead.  He was an avid hiker, so it can effect anyone without enough water.
 We made it to the top at 7:30!  We were going to make it home in time for Karlie's volleyball tournament.
Back at home and after learning of the man who passed away trying to experience the same wonders we had, I felt grateful the only mark left was a pretty deep blister.  I suppose a blister or two is expected after 30 miles of hiking over three days often in wet shoes!
 I can check Havasupai Falls off my bucket list.  It was one of the most beautiful places I have seen, only marred by the history of how the Havasupai tribe has been treated and how their future seems dismal.
 I hope they can somehow turn their natural treasure into a thriving business opportunity for all the tribe and allow visitors t experience the beauty and wonder of their land.

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