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

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