Monday, September 12, 2011

Grand Canyon Adventures Continued

Hiking into the Grand Canyon from Hualapai Hilltop to Supa
After visiting Grand Canyon West and the Hualapai Tribe this July, (read more about our adventures at Grand Canyon West at we traveled about 36 miles on the dirt road to nowhere, and made it to historic Route 66 (Here It Is! The Route 66 Map Series).  We stopped and toured Grand Canyon Caverns, and were told it is the largest dry cavern in the US.  After taking an elevator down 21 stories, our guide showed us selenite and limestone crystals, a mummified bobcat, and the remains of  "Gertie" a 15 foot, 4 inch, giant ground sloth.  That evening, we drove a bit farther to Route 66's historic Seligman, and had a delicious, filling dinner at Westside Lilo's.  Hubby and I also enjoyed a well deserved, ice cold, refreshing beer (there are no adult beverages on Indian Reservations) :)   We picked up a few supplies, and then returned to Grand Canyon Caverns Inn for the night.  We filled our Camelbak Hydration Bladder, put them in the fridge, checked our backpacks for supplies for the upcoming hike into the canyon, and turned in for the night (that's an over simplification of the process of getting all 6 of us prepped, but you get the idea.) 

The alarm went off at 4am.  Uggh.  But, we needed to get an early start to reach the trail head and hike when it was cooler.  We woke the groggy crew, ate breakfast, inserted the Camelbaks into the Kelty backpacks, made sure the packs were adjusted, and packed the car.  We traveled down dark, vacant Route 66 a short distance to our 62 mile turnoff to Hualapai Hilltop.  The kids dozed, and the sun peaked out from behind the hills, and hubby watched for cattle in the road.  We arrived at Hualapai Hilltop just after sunrise, and were excited to begin the 8 mile hike into the canyon and the village of Supai, which is part of the Havasupai Reservation.  (Note: The name Hualapai Hilltop was confusing at first because we'd just come from the Hualapai Reservation at Grand Canyon West, yet Hualapai Hilltop is the trailhead leading down into the Havasupai Reservation, and the Village of Supai.)

The first mile and a half, was a series of steep, loose rocky switchbacks, and it was easy to loose your footing.  I recommend packing an Ace Bandage or two,  as well as a first aid kit with instant ice packs, and Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister Cushions.  Thank goodness, we were prepared with these items because we ending up using them all even though we had proper hiking shoes and socks. It's almost inevitable when hiking on uneven, rocky terrain, for that distance!

We stopped and took lots of pictures along the way, but it's hard to do justice to the amazing, natural wonder of landscape that is the Grand Canyon, the varied terrain, the altitude, and the vivid colors.  I wish I could say that the kids were all soaking up the natural wonders around them, but alas there is always one who is less than enthused, which made the hike take a little bit longer than planned.  We took extra breaks to adjust hiking shoes, snacks, water, etc. to help along the way, and even the picture breaks provided short rests. 

After the mile and a half of switchbacks, the terrain leveled out, but the "soil" was made up of small to medium red rocks that are the result of canyon washouts.  At this point it was getting warm, and we made sure to sip water from the Camelbak hoses to keep hydrated.   The canyon walls stretched up to blue sky, and it was surreal to think that we were walking in the Grand Canyon that was formed 6 million years ago!  We did our best to stay in the shadiest parts for as long as possible, and the Columbia omni-shade shirts and hats helped to keep the sun off our skin, and wick away the moisture (Columbia Men's Bahama II Long Sleeve Shirt), 

I'm not going to lie...8 miles in July, in the Arizona heat, with temperatures in the mid-90's makes for a long 4 hour hike.  The last mile, as we approached Supai and began to see and hear water, seemed especially long because we really didn't have any idea how close we were to the village at that point.  When we finally reached Supai, I'm sure we looked like most tourists; we were hot, sweaty, exhausted, and a few were cranky.   But the icy cold drinks we sipped while we waited for lunch to be prepared in the nondescript air-conditioned Cafe began to revive us little by little.  And let me tell you, those expensive, calorie packed burgers and huge tacos were worth every penny.  Our lunch hit the spot, and helped to recharge us.  

We checked in to the Havasupai Lodge (don't bother trying to check in early), changed into bathing suits, and geared up for one of our ultimate destinations, and hiked to the first waterfall, Rock Falls a 30 foot waterfall.  After watching others jump off a small ledge underneath the main fall, we put on water shoes, swam over, climbed up the rocky edge, and leaped through the fall as the water from above prickled our skin.  It was exhilarating!  We watched as several courageous souls jumped from the top of the falls.  Rosebud and Rhody, wanted to jump, and we climbed to the top with them, to check it out.  OMG, it was high and scary!  First Rosebud, then Rhody launched off, jumping out so as not to hit the rock at the top that jutted out.  My heart was in my throat as they leaped into the beautiful, turquoise water, and I couldn't breathe until I saw them surface again (which seemed to take forever!).  They both amazed me with their bravery and for seizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I hope they will always remember the thrill of jumping, and the adrenalin rush as they plunged into breathtaking Rock Falls.

Other links to check: Mooney Falls2012.html

Rock Falls in the Grand Canyon, north of Supai
Rock Falls - 30 foot waterfall
Rhody jumping from the lower ledge, through Rock Falls
Rosebud and Rhody seize the day and jump from the top of  Rock Falls!

Rock Falls - the "stairs" up to the 30' jump
Rock Falls from a distance

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weathering Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene 2011

When Hurricane Irene came storming her way up the east coast, I'm not sure we thought we'd actually be in the dark...or at least not for as long as we were.  We prepared as best we could; we bought gallons of drinking water, froze Ziplock bags full of water, stowed all the outdoor chairs, tables, soccer nets, etc.  Hubby filled the second propane tank for the grill, and bought some canned goods and non-fridge food.  I did extra loads of laundry ahead of schedule, filled up the dishwasher and ran it, and gathered every candle and match book in the house.  We charged the electronics and cell phones, gathered the flashlights and batteries, and filled the bathtub with water.  We were prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best.  And then at 10:50 am on Sunday, we lost power.

I'm proud to say we weathered Hurricane Irene and the loss of power for 82 hours with as much green grace as we could muster.  We lost several trees, and large branches, and a section of fence was knocked down, and ultimately had to toss several pounds of meat, but luckily there was no damage to the house, and we still had running water.  For the first few hours, it felt like we were on an adventure, "Survivor Irene", but when the hot water ran out, the electronics ran out of charge, and the kids got bored playing board games, the forced "green" adventure turned the adventurers a bit grouchy.  Personally, I'd never experienced a power outage for 82 hours, and it really made me appreciate all the everyday things that we all typically take for granted in a developed country. 

We made due with less.  No electricity.  No hot water.  No microwave.  None of the modern conveniences we are accustomed to, switching on the lights, running the dishwasher, toasting a bagel, boiling water, reheating food, cooking, making coffee, throwing in a load of laundry, watching TV to name a few.  Keeping food cold in the cooler, washing dishes in cold water, and drying them in the sunlight, and later reading and functioning by candlelight made us feel like we'd stepped back into the 1800's.  At 6am on Monday morning, hubby began searching for more ice for the coolers.  He drove all over to find it, (none of the surrounding stores were open or had ice, so he drove further to a town we knew still had power), and to look for a generator at Home Depot or Lowes.  Of course they were sold out, but he put us on a waiting list to rent a generator to keep the food in the main fridge/freezer from spoiling.  28 hours into the outage he was able to rent one, and we were able to plug in the fridge, and a second extension cord to recharged cell phones, iPad, and iPods. 

As time went on, we developed a great appreciation for the power and appliances that we usually take for granted.  On the fourth day without electricity, we decided to try to boost morale (we were all quite grouchy by the time evening rolled around), and used the second generator plug to watch one of my favorite chick flicks,  Sweet Home Alabama.  We'd just about finished the movie, when the lights and fans came on!  The kids whooped and hollered, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief that we'd weathered Hurricane Irene.  Let's hope that the predictions from NOAA, for a higher than usual incidence of hurricanes and tropical storms, misses the mark, and we can pick and choose green choices a la carte instead of "a la Hurricane".