Friday, July 15, 2011

the havasupai hiking/camping adventure part 2.

catch up on part 1 if needed!! 
the drive was pretty easy. here to kingman then on 66. once in kingman we met up with other people from our group. then we had to find this backward ass road that was the scariest road i have ever been on in my life. it was sooo pitch black dark and it was tiny 2-lane road. it was 60 miles long and there was a threat of animals jumping out at any moment. i was so glad mike was driving and richard was in the front seat. however i was never so alert on a road while not driving in my life. we finally made it to the parking lot about 1130p and started to figure out sleeping. mike had brought a chair to sleep in outside and richard was able to put down the backseat so we could stretch out. it was the most uncomfortable night of sleep i think i have ever had. pretty much no one slept that night. especially since we were getting up at 4am to get ready for the hike.
the morning view.
we woke up pretty easily since we hadnt really slept and the fear set in a little bit. there was no turning back now, i had to go through with it. it took up awhile to get everyone ready between changing, eating, and basically repacking since we took out our sleeping bags the night before. we also had a pretty large group going down. we were finally ready about as the sun was really starting to come up, but figured we could probably beat it all the way down.

the 1st 1.5 miles were the worst! it was straight down switchbacks that was a knee killer. once we made it through that it was much better. im not really sure what i expected, but i dont think it was a trail like that. the whole rest of the way it was gravel and sand and super uneven. you literally had to watch everywhere you walked. but it was beautiful in the canyon.
just a little way down.

the view from the bottom of the switchbacks, told you it was steep!
the group had kind of broken up throughout the hike. mike, richard, and i had become the middle. mike's friends from work were pretty far up ahead. and tammy, her fiance dale, and her 13 year old brother clay were behind us. richard was so great the whole time down. he kept checking on me to make sure i was doing ok. do we need to slow down or speed up? are you drinking enough water? do we need to take a break? i was afraid he was gonna leave off with the guys, but the 3 of us stayed together pretty much the whole time. once we started hearing water we knew we were getting close to the village. the village was 8 miles from the top, this is where we could check into our campsite. then we would complete the last 2 miles from there.
the beautifully random tree we saw on the way down.

upon arriving in the village its like we were in a whole other world. richard put it best, "its like innovation never happened down here." it was the weirdest experience ever. there were animals and kids running around everywhere. the houses were definitely not in the best shape ever. and most of the people there looked at us a little funny. we found mike who had jumped a little ahead to make sure the 1st group could check in. we decided that since we were already in the village that we would just eat there now so we didnt have to come back later. we had only brought 3 meals and figured we would eat at least 1 meal a day in the village. the restaurant was closed so we went to the general store we had seen at the beginning of the village to grab some food. we ate micorwaveable things that you would usually eat at 7-11. richard had a cheeseburger that he raved about for days and told every single person we met about. it was hilarious.

afterward we made the last 2 mile trek to the campsite. these last 2 miles were awful! they were super hilly and the sun was definitely beating down on us hard. we spotted a waterfall about halfway down that richard got so excited about he was sprinting down the hill, kicking up dirt like pig pen from the peanuts. it was beautiful though.
rock falls.
we passed another gorgeous one that mike had actually proposed at 2 years before that was much closer to our campsite. finally we made it! however we werent really sure how to find the 1st group, we didnt even know what their tents looked like. we found them pretty easily across the creek. it was a great site with plenty of space for our 4 spaces. the rest had already popped their tents and made camp. they had also had the chance take a nap/relax a bit. richard and mike set up our camp pretty quickly while i did the girl thing, watch and take pictures.

i was ready for a nap after all of this. but our site was directly in the sun and richard was ready to rock. the other group had gone a little bit ahead while we finished setting up. we decided to meet up with them at havasu falls to cool off and hang out. now something to keep in mind. anytime you want "to go somewhere to hang out" you must hike there. this fall was about a half mile away down a pretty steep path. it was beautiful though, so worth it.
havasu falls.
the water was pretty darn cold, and richard complained about it pretty much the whole weekend. i would have been totally content hanging out at that waterfall for hours. it was great to people watch and was so peaceful. but my never-sit-still-for-a-moment-boyfriend wanted to go hike around to another waterfall. we headed back to camp to eat some snacks and get ready for the next adventure. at this point i was pretty wiped out, but didnt want to be the bum girlfriend that complained. so i took a trusty gu pack, ate some trail mix, and was ready to go.

mooney falls was just as beautiful! we didnt go all the way down because we were way too sore, so we just hung out at the top. plus we were pretty high up. we stayed for a long while just chatting and listening to the water.

dang thats a long way down!
once back at the site we were all getting pretty hungry and decided it was time to brave the freeze dried food. mike was first up, he had it all before. so you open up the package, remove the oxidizer, boil 2 cups of water, pour it into the package, stir, reclose and wait for 8-10 minutes.

 it all really looked and tasted like regular food. just in a bag instead of on a plate. i have to say i was pleasantly surprised. richard was super quiet while we were eating and seemed to struggle for every bite. i realized its because he was darn near falling asleep with every bite. mr-lets-run-around-like-crazy-people-all-afternoon was finally tired. after finishing our food we all hung out for awhile waiting for it to get dark. we did for 2 reasons. 1 it was wayyyy too hot in our tents to sleep. and 2 we couldnt go to bed when it was that light outside! i had sent richard to bed though, he could not keep himself awake.

it finally started to get pretty dark and i decided i needed should go to the bathroom before i had to use my headlamp to get around. thought it was a good plan. except it got real dark real fast and i could not find where i was going! the scariest part though was crossing that little bridge on the way back to the camp site!
our campsite in the morning.
i woke up the next morning about 730am to the sound of someone saying "good morning mr roscoe!" i stuck my head out of the tent to see andrew in bright yellow standing across the creek with his fantastic girlfriend and his parents. we knew they were coming down sunday, but had planned to meet them in the village at noon. apparently they hadnt gotten to the top at 2am and decided to just start hiking then instead of attempting sleep. sounded like a good plan in the beginning. except andrew and stephanie had flown down from reno the day before and his parents had worked all day. by the time we saw them they had all been up more than 24 hours! they made camp and passed out pretty quickly.

we hung out for quite awhile when they were sleeping. it was only 8am, and we had to experience freeze dried breakfast. again i was pleasantly surprised. the eggs really tasted like eggs! they were pretty good.
 we decided to head back out to mooney falls and the guys were going to make the trek down the chains to get to the bottom. i wasnt going to go at all because i dont do heights, but tammy convinced me we could go to a certain part and then the guys could continue on to the scary part. she had developed a nasty knot in the bottom of her foot and wasnt ready to scale the side of the mountain. now remember everywhere you go you have to hike to get there. so we were climbing over all the big rocks to make it as far as we did. the guys continued on from there.

good thing he wore a red shirt!
once andrew and stephanie woke up shortly after we returned to find that a squirrel had chewed a hole into stephanies bag to get out her trail mix! the previous day mike kept telling me we needed to get our bags up off the tables, and i couldnt understand why. after they left their bags on the table during their nap i understood. we decided after much negotiation we would go to the really cool waterfall that the boys could jump off and hang out for awhile. that fall was a little over halfway to the village so we could continue up the path to have lunch after. richard and mike made it to the top of the waterfall, while andrew, stephanie, and i went to the bottom so i could take pictures. the 3 of us were not jumping.
mike jumping!
richard jumping.
after the guys did it once we met them at the bottom and they regaled us with the tale of how hard it is to jump. while richard is telling me about the jump i notice andrew and stephanie off underneath the waterfall taking pictures. all of sudden i look over again and andrew is down on one knee!!! mike is taking pictures like a maniac and i am trying to get over there (stupid rocks) so i can capture the moment as well. it was so beautiful! they were both soooo excited and the ring was perfectly stephanie. he had bought it from her uncle, a jeweler in south dakota. he had asked her parents months before and this was the big reason his parents had made the trip.
"will you marry me?'

she said yes!!
we headed up to the new waterfall behind this one after one more jump by the guys. it had just been created that year by all the rainfall they had over the winter time. it was so cool!

you can still see the roots from the trees!
by this time the 5 of us were starving so we decided to head up to the village for lunch. we went into the restaurant for the 1st time and were the only ones in there. andrew, stephanie, and i ordered the indian tacos and after much debate with the lady behind the counter mine was the only one that came out kind of right. now the indian taco is ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes all on a huge piece of frybread. it was the most filling taco i have ever eaten! mike, richard, and i however decided we still totally wanted ice cream before heading back to camp. we walked over to the general store but decided to go to the store at the beginning of the village because they had a way better ice cream selection. on the way we stopped at the tourist office to fill up our water and found a friend they were begging us to take home. he was sooo cute, and i would have taken him in a heartbeat if we were ready for a dog. the village was over run with them and they were starting to crack down. they were beginning to enforce a 2 dog/household limit. the others they were hoping to have us tourists take them home.
 we made our way back to the campsite where i got the royal treatment! andrew was a professional hairbrusher and had volunteered to undertake my hair so that stephanie could french braid my hair. it felt so much better to have it tamed and out of the way! plus stephanie got to share the super exciting news with everyone. the next day jay, sarah, steve, and adam were all leaving so i knew this was the best opportunity for us take our big group picture!
finally andrews parents woke up and they got to join the party. his mom busted out a beautiful veil she had stashed in her pack and they made their way around the camp grounds taking picutres! it was really funny (its a whole different kind of entertainment down there). plus we were a little hard up for entertainment haha. we stayed up a little later that night and just looked at the stars. they were so bright and so beautiful it was hard not to just sit and stare.

we woke up on our final day and i was finally not feeling sore! this was a big win. andrews parents had decided the previous day they were not going to hike out. i think there might have been a hell no or 2 in there. they instead were going to helicopter out of the village, genius idea. we all decided to make the trip up to the village. i mean really what else did we have to do haha! mike and andrew powered up the crazy hills from the campsite to the village with their packs so his parents didnt have to while the rest of us lagged a little behind. the crazy amount of miles we had been doing the last 2 days were really starting to catch up with us.

once we got up to the village we decided to stay and eat while his parents went to check in for the helicopter. they had about an hour wait, which was nothin compared to some of the wait times we had been hearing. i finally got to try the indian tacos! they were pretty good all things considered. let me explain. an indian taco is a huge piece of frybread topped with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. they are also about as big as my head! i was starving and couldnt even finish the whole thing. i have to say the restaurant in the village was actually pretty decent. i mean nothing like the outside world, but at that point you are pretty friggin hungry for real food. richard and i decided to head to the store on the other side of town after lunch to get some ice cream because it was so darn hot.
we headed back to meet up with everyone else at the waterfalls where we had decided to hang out for the rest of the day since we were making the crazy trip back up the canyon in the morning. i still couldnt get over the beauty of everything when we were down there, and it all being nature made. we hung out in the pool for about an hour and a half until our butts were sore from sitting on the rocks and the middle school adventure kids showed up. it was about this time that richard looked over at me and said he was really ready to go home! i was so surprised and glad at the same time. usually when we go on trips he never wants to go home.
back at camp we began talking about the hike out the next morning. making plans about what time to get up and the fact we actually had to make the hike the next morning. all weekend there had been talk about how we were going to actually do it. we thought about renting a burrow that we could place 4 packs on for $25/pack. we thought about riding horses out. but ultimately decided we were friggin tough and going to earn our way out by just carrying. it seemed the whole time we were down there someone kept talking about the hike out, the dreaded switchbacks, or how far we would make it without getting stuck in the sun, or how early we were going to get up. we finally decided we wanted to be out of camp at 230am so we didnt hit the sun and we would get back to vegas early enough to still have the rest of the day. that meant a 130am wake up call by andrew.

right on the dot andrew was knocking on our tent the next morning with his headlamp shining through. we had a lot to do in a short amount of time, definitely not leaving time for a snooze button. we had laid out our clothes the previous night and tried to get as many things together as possible because it was so dark in the morning. i began rolling everything up but was having the biggest trouble with the sleeping bag. i was determined to get it on my own. everybody had to carry their own weight. richard however was really struggling with the his bag, the sleeping pad, and the tent. mike, lora, and i had packed his bag on the way down and he hadnt paid attention when he was unpacking to where everything fit. i kept telling him he had to figure it out, he kept telling me he was going to wait for mike to help him. mike came over after packing all of his own things and helped richard anyway. we finished up breakfast and started to make our way up to the village.

the guys were definitely blazing the trail up front while stephanie and i hung back a bit which was perfectly fine with both of us. we kept saying this is a marathon not a sprint. (that is such a funny saying to me now that i do that :) ) we made it to the village failry easily and knew those were some of the hardest hills we had for awhile. stephanie was able to unload the trash we had to hike out and we were all able to fill up our camelbacks to ensure we had plenty of water. we started again fairly quickly because we didnt want to lose our momentum. it was so quite in the canyon and the village not even close to dawn yet, and still wearing our headlamps we moved on.

the rest of the hike to the bottom of the switchbacks seemed so much faster than the one down. we were on our own for most of the way until a little over 1/2 through when we finally started to see new hikers come down. i spent the majority of this part on my own, and it was kinda nice. i was able to get lost in my own thoughts. andi was able to dream about real food, and showers and my bed and air conditioning. i was definitely ready to get home. everyone met at the bottom of the switchbacks to eat something and prepare for the huge climb ahead. right before i found the guys i passed a group that payed the best compliment anyone ever could at that moment. "wow, you look so fresh!" literally the best thing i could have heard as i was exhausted and not sure how i was going to make up the hardest/last part.

finally it was time to just tackle them, we had all agreed to stop if we needed to and if you did to make sure you lean on something rather than just stopping in the middle of the path. we started out with a jumbled mess. i was trying to stay middle pack knowing the boys would probably be in the front while a few would probably still be behind me. my goal was to get to the top without stopping! andrew stayed back a bit to make sure stephanie was ok, while mike, dale, and richard led the way with me close behind. soon richard was dropping down and i passed him! finally my hardcore cardio was working for me.
it was freakin treacherous! i turned my ipod on and powered through as much as i could. it took me about 45 minutes to go up that 1.5 miles. luckily richard and i had acquired walking sticks from andrews parents the day before since they didnt hike out. i think they saved my life, literally. finally i was able to see a small glimer of the top and knew that i just had a little bit more to go. and then i conquered it!!! i was the 3rd one out in our group and the 1st girl! i was sooo excited. for the girl that had never hiked before, that all the boys had said its ok to hang back, that is afraid of heights, i beat that hill!! i was so proud of myself:)
i totally beat the rest of them!
the rest of the group made it up one by one with mike and andrew going to grab stephanie and clays packs so they could continue on. it was an awesome feeling getting to the top all on my own. there was group of about 20 freshmenish boys from utah unloading a van at the top when we reached it. the leader asked how long it took me to hike out, when i told him 5 hours he was seriously impressed.

andrews dad had made the trip back from peach springs about 100 miles away to pick up andrew, stephanie, and mike to head up to their cabin in utah. we took our final group pictures at top and hobbled into our cars. it was amazing to sit in a comfortable chair with air conditioning and no shoes. i had a HUGE blister on the inside of my right foot right on the edge. it was not pretty and pretty painful, but so worth the war wound.
we made it back to vegas with a stop in kingman for real bathrooms, fast food,and starbucks. i have never been so excited to have starbucks or burger king for that matter! i had a lot of time to think on that drive home. i had a really good time. and something i never thought i would do. it was great to bond with mike, andrew, and stephanie. plus to say that i actually did it, dang. it was also really fun to just walk around with richard for 3 days. we would talk to other people we were with and sometimes we walked in silence, but we did a lot of talking to each other. sometimes it was about the horse that farted on richard as we walked by him (still hilarious), or about our relationship and how much it has grown,or the fact that we still couldnt believe we were actually doing this.

the whole experience is something i will never forget. and never do again haha! next time, we are just meeting the group at the cabin for the week of booze and eating like kings :)

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