04/30/2012 - 5/2/2012
TRAIL DISTANCE - 27 miles
TYPE - Backpack (2 nights), Day Hike
Oh my goodness! Wow, Havasu Falls is amazing!!! The Havasu Falls are located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which is within the Grand Canyon. This was our second trip to the Grand Canyon and this time we decided to not just day hike, but to also include a short backpacking trip in our 7 day vacation out west. Well, we sort of backpacked. We decided to splurge a little and to take it easy, so we took a guided two night trip where all we carried were day packs, just carrying water mostly. We decided to go with a private tour with Wildland Trekking, and our guide was Wes. As we hiked the 10 miles to the campground, our gear made it to the Havasupai Campground via mules.
The Supai Village is 8 miles from the trailhead, and it is another 2 miles from there to the campground. This is a small yet interesting little place. There is a Post Office, school, church, store, and a few other buildings that a typical small town would need. The Post Office is the last one in the United States to still have mail delivery by mule. As a matter of fact, everything that this village needs is either transported by mule, horse, or helicopter. This is the reason that you will see very high prices on all items at the store. For a fee, you can also take a helicopter ride out instead of the long hike out. You cannot reserve a helicopter though, it is first come first serve only. The people are shy yet friendly, and very welcoming to all of us hikers. Please be cautious with your camera and video equipment around the locals, especially in the village. Their customs are different than what we are used to, so please be respectful.
The trek in was pretty much all downhill, and we had to constantly be aware of mule trains carrying gear and supplies coming up from behind us, and we also had to watch out for their poo on the trail. These mules and horses do this every day, multiple times a day. The trains usually have one lead rider, but sometimes they are far ahead but the mules and horses know what they are doing. They know what their job is and they know where to go. You just need to get out of their way. It's really quite the sight.
The entire hike in our guide Wes kept our
minds busy with the extreme amount of knowledge he has of the area. Wes
was very informative and friendly, and he was a good cook too! When we
arrived at the campground and we finally realized just how popular this
hike is. During the 10 mile hike in, we saw other hikers here and there,
but it wasn't until we arrived at the campground when we got the enormity
of the attraction to these waterfalls. We typically avoid crowded hikes
like this, but sometimes you just have to go out of your comfort zone
a little bit. This is one hike that we would put up with large crowds
for. We would do this hike again in a heartbeat!
After arriving at the campground, we walked around and checked everything out, and we also hiked down to the bottom of Havasu Falls. There were many people swimming in the nice blue pool below. The waterfall is such a powerful force. This is one of a total of 5 waterfalls in Havasu Canyon. Mooney Falls is the tallest of all of the waterfalls, at 190'. We will check that waterfall out tomorrow, as well as visit Beaver Falls, which is about 3.5 miles (one way) from the campground. So tomorrow the goal is to hike to Beaver Falls, enjoy a picnic lunch and maybe a swim, and then make the return trek back to the campground.
The next morning we enjoy a hot breakfast
and some coffee and a relaxing morning around camp. Then we geared up
and decided to tackle our planned 7 mile day hike. The hike/climb
down to Mooney Falls was the highlight of the trip. Jodi wore a GoPro
chest harness to record the climb. That video can be seen by clicking
on the video tab on the menu bar above. The rest of the hike was mostly
in and out of
water with a few minor rock
scrambles mixed in just for fun. We wore Salomon water shoes for this
day hike, which turned out to be a very good decision. Beaver Falls isn't
a tall waterfall like the other two previously mentioned, it is more of
a cascading waterfall. It was real pretty, and it was a nice spot to enjoy
a lunch prepared by Wes. We should mention the water color, which you
can see in the photos. Calcium carbonate and magnesium occur naturally
in the waters of Havasu Creek. Havasu Falls and Havasu Creek get their
blue color from the magnesium in the water.
The next morning we were on a mission to get an early start to beat the heat. It was a 10 mile hike out, and even without carrying heavy backpacks it still wasn't going to be easy. We helped Wes with loading up the gear and giving it to the mule handler. We were then on the trail by 7:00am to start the long climb to the trailhead. We made sure we each carried 3 liters of water and also another bottle of Gatorade each. Even with many short breaks, mostly to empty out the sand from our shoes, we still made it out of the canyon and back to the trailhead before noon. The last mile was the only super steep climb, but the first 9 miles were a fairly constant gentle climb.
This was an awesome trip. A must do trip! You do not have to hire a guide company. All of the necessary reservations/permits can be handled by yourself and you can even hire a mule company so you only have to carry a day pack if that is what you wish. Or carry all of your gear. Your choice.
Thank you to Wes and Wildland Trekking (www.wildlandtrekking.com). They are a very professional, well-run company and we highly recommend them.
Tips for your trip
Train for this hike. It is not an easy walk
in the park.
If making the climb down to Mooney Falls, don't carry anything in your hands, wear a pack. You will need your hands.
Do not wear headphones. You need to be able to hear the mule trains coming from behind you and get out of their way.
Carry a lot of water. And drink it. And salty snacks are a good idea too.
The trail is very dusty, especially when the mule trains go past. Temporarily covering your face/mouth with a bandana is helpful.
Start early, especially on the hike back out of the canyon.