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Havasupai Part I

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I spent the previous weekend backpacking and camping through Supai, AZ to see the Havasupai waterfalls. The location itself was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life and my first time trekking through the Grand Canyon region. I have been trying to visit this place for over a year and was really happy to finally be able to cross this off my list of secret travel spots. The adventure itself included a 10 mile hike into the campsite and you have to bring all your food and pack all of your trash out of the Havasupai Indian Reservation…which means hiking the 10 miles with a big pack with everything you will need that entire weekend.

Planning this trip was a bit challenging as this was the first time I decided to invite a group of friends to do something like this with me…and most have never done anything like this before. And another big challenge was the forecast showing that it was snowing the entire week up to the day before we arrived with night time temperatures at around 20F while we were there. Fantastic. While I didn’t really care about the freezing cold, I was worried that my friends would hate the trip (or hate me) and I would somehow turn them away from backpacking and camping forever. 

Well, there was only one way to find out.


I spent the entire week leading up to Friday stressing about the weight of our packs and the food. I let the girls take care of the food because I figured it would be more fun for others to be part of the planning. While I personally would have packed a lot less…I think they did a great job and we ended up eating really well on the trip. I guess the trade off to more food and weight is obviously eating a lot nicer.

Friday finally arrived. I left work at noon and drove home to pick everybody up. We took two cars to the Grand Canyon but hit traffic on the drive up and finally passed Riverside at around 6PM. Once we passed Barstow and hit the 40E, it was completely dark and we were able to speed like crazy make up for lost time. We decided to stop for dinner in Needles at a place called Wagon Wheel but it smelled like wet fart because they were having an all you can eat fish night. Instead, we went across the street to Carl’s Jr…where I saw the funniest thing ever. Man scouts.

Earning their fast food badge.

After our brief encounter with the man scouts and my buddy MJR running across the street to grab me a delicious Taco Bell meximelt (the flavors of Mexico melting in your mouth), we hit the road to Kingman, AZ to gas up for the last leg of the trip. After Kingman, it was 11PM and I needed sleep (I had been up since 5AM) so we got on the historic Route 66 at a good speed. In fact, it was too good of a speed because I got pulled over by one of Amerca’s finest…Kingman policeman. Gaaaaaaah.

“Good evening, can I see your license and registration please.”
“Here’s my license and let me find the registration…sorry about this officer.”
“Sorry? Sorry for what? I didn’t even tell you what I pulled you over for.”
“Oh. Um…sorry for making you get out of your car because it’s so cold at night right now…?”
“Well, I pulled you over for speeding. Do you know how fast you were going?”
“Well, how fast were you going?”
“…you know…uh…72?”
“Are you asking me if you were going 72 or are you telling you were going 72?”

Crap. I couldn’t find my registration but gave him my license and insurance. He told me to “sit tight” and went back to his cop car. Dang it…I guess asking for a warning was out of the question at this point. Then suddenly, the song Don’t Stop Believing by Journey started playing in my car. We all looked at each other and knew we all wanted to say it but nobody wanted to say it…until my friend broke the silence, “hey man…don’t stop believing…” Corny has heck. A few minutes later the officer came back to my car.

“Where you guys headed?”
“The Grand Canyon”
“Ha…of course. Just like everybody else…can you step out of the car and come to the back with me?”

Double crap. I got out of my door and met the officer at his squad car.

“Do you guys have any alcoholic beverages in the car?”
“We have a little bit in the bed of my truck in a cooler.”
“Okay. Well, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a warning but you really need to slow down. These are open fields and it’s not uncommon for cows and deer to walk onto the highway at night and for cars to hit them in the dark. So make sure you slow down and drive safely and have a good time camping.”
“Yes sir. Thank you so much!”

I felt incredibly victorious.

We caught up to the other car and my friend RT was like, “I tried to text and warn you! I’m so sorry! But I had a feeling you were able to talk your way out of a ticket.” Ha. Right. My amazing conversational skills with the law enforcement is exceptional (see above below-average conversational skills with policeman). I would actually rather credit my luck to the song that started playing. And yes classic rock still rocks.

The last leg of the trip was on Indian territory and we passed quite a few groups of cattle and deer and horses and boy were they huge! Some were in the middle of the road as big as cars so I am definitely glad I slowed down a bit.

We finally got to the parking lot/trail head just before 1AM. We quickly set up one tent between the cars and everybody either feel asleep in the cars or the bed of my truck or the tent. I fell instantly asleep because I had been up for about 20 hours. Tomorrow was a big day and I couldn’t wait.


The morning was bloody freezing. I actually slept pretty warm in my nice sleeping bag but I think everybody else froze. We literally slept on the cliff of the Grand Canyon. When we woke up, the wind was howling and the temperature was in the low 20s and it took a while for everybody to wake up and get warm…but the views were incredible.

Waking up to this view of God’s creation was worth the long hours driving the previous night!

These guys obviously not as excited to get out of bed in the early AM…

We got ready and sorted out the things that we needed and left the unnecessary and heavy items in the cars while the girls cooked some delicious breakfast burritos.

We did a final inspection and then started our 10 mile trek to the camp site. The first mile was a steep decline down a bunch of switchbacks with an elevation change of 1000′. The rest of the 9 miles is a steady 1000′ elevation change through open canyon land, narrows and amazing views. This is the part of the post where I let the pictures do all the talking.

The first mile on the trip was a steep decline through a series of switch backs. Can you see the group?

When we got to the bottom we all took off our sweatpants because it was getting hot

Group photo #1

Group photo #2

We arrived at Supai village (8 miles) and checked into the campsite office. We took a short break and continued the last 2 miles to the campgrounds…which we passed some pretty breath-taking views.

The relief of arriving at the campgrounds was indescribable. We were finally able to take off our shoes, put our feet in the cool stream, set up our tents, lounge around, wash up, sit down and talk, and relax. One of my favorite things to do when camping is finding a perfect spot and setting up the campsite…and watch the girls eat cheese and salamis while the guys set up the tents and refill the water. Not.

The tents that were set up by…not the girls.

Our clean water source with filter!

MJR and JW getting the food ready while I sit and play with matches…

After dinner (we had delicious pasta), we went back to Havasu Falls for some quick exploring.

It got dark quick… and we didn’t have to cross any streams on the way back but we did anyway

It was pitch black by the time we got to the tents. I lit some candles and some of us stayed up to talk for a bit. The joy of being able to see a place that I’ve been dying to visit for over a year was really satisfying. And the good thing was I had the entire full day tomorrow to explore the canyon and a few waterfalls. Normally, this type of anticipation would keep me up at night, but I was super exhausted from the 10 mile hike that I fell right to sleep.

Stay tuned for Havasupai Part II…


Written by jonewantsm3

February 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Adventures

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