As of a few years ago, I had never heard of Havasu Canyon and Falls. Then
Cassel raved about it for weeks saying it was the most beautiful place he's ever
seen. Good enough for me.....ever since then I've been wanting to go! I passed
up an opportunity to do the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim
with a bunch of cool folks, but we started the ball rolling for plans into
Havasu Canyon. WOWZA is all I can say, definitely one of the most beautiful
places I've EVER seen!
On Thursday night we caught a cheap Southwest Airlines flight to Phoenix, picked
up our tiny Cheve Aveo (AKA. Turd-mobile, Silver Bullet, Thumbilina) and joked
non-stop about how small it was. That came back to haunt me, but more about that
later. We stayed in an El Cheap-O hotel so we could get an early start on
Friday. Friday morning we headed up to Flagstaff where we stopped for some last
minute food items and tried to find MSR fuel for our stove. The first and only
place we stopped only had Primus fuel, but the canister seemed to fit. A block
later I decided to try, just in case, since I've had these great plans
backfire oh too often! No worky work. So we headed back to the gear shop and
just bought a Primus stove guaranteed to work with the fuel. Okay, back on the
road and a
stop along Route 66 in the very strange town of Seligman at the Road Kill Cafe.
Good stuff. An hour or so later we were at the crowded trailhead for Havasu
Canyon looking for Cassel and Kim who were meeting us there coming from Vegas.
Good timing, we found them and they had just been there 5 minutes! This was a
surprise trip for Kim so Vegas, Havasu and (later) Sedona were all a surprise!
Not being a hiker, never been camping, and not into the idea of carrying a
backpack.....it was QUITE the surprise! She was a good sport though and did
Apparently the recent magazine articles about Havasu have done wonders for
visitors. There were a couple hundred
cars, a couple dozen horses getting loaded up with stuff to pack in for people,
and quite a bit of trash. They make it so just about anyone can get into the
village of the Havasu Indian 8 miles away....you can take a helicopter, hike in
with your stuff, or hike in and have a horse carry your stuff in and meet you in
the village; then once there you can camp or stay at a hotel in the village!
Plenty 'O options. Of course
we chose to backpack in with all our stuff and stay in the campground.
We had monster backpacks full of WAY too much food and plenty of booze, we
strapped up and headed off. The first mile is steep switchbacks to the canyon
floor, very similar to the grand canyon south rim trails. It was a beautiful day
and off we went knowing we had 8 miles to the village then another 2.2 miles to
the campground. Once on the canyon floor it was very similar to hiking through
Utah...some sand and rocks, and cool views all around. It was awesome and easy
to follow. It got pretty warm at times, but a breeze would blow through or there
would be some shade to duck into. We took a bunch of breaks and took our grand
old time hiking in. The tequila and pot roast in my pack was getting heavier and
about ready to be done. After a few hours the scene slowly changed to a nice
clear stream and cottonwood trees. Shortly after we were in Havasupai Village.
The village consists of some run down houses, horses and cows, a church, school,
hotel, and a couple small stores. We found where to check in at and got a map,
from there it was just 2.2miles to the campground. We came across the first set
of waterfalls, Navajo Falls, that just seems to run out of the canyon walls.
This was just a sampler of what was to come! Around another corner we all
stopped and our jaws dropped to the ground for Havasu Falls!!! WOW! Its this giant
waterfall that pours off the top of the red sandstone canyon and drops 100ft
into a giant pool of crystal clear blue/green water. It is absolutely
BEAUTIFUL!!! All of a sudden our packs seemed weightless and the 10miles were
like nothing. After a bunch of pictures, staring over our shoulders and tripping
over the trail, we made our way into the packed camp with tents just about
everywhere after 5hrs and 20mins. Across the stream and through the woods we
found a nice place to setup shop. Jean started on the tent, Cassel and Kim
started on the water, and I started on the margaritas! Can't camp with out a
bottle of tequila, Cointrau and Baja Bobs marg mix, right?! The pot roast and
mashed potatoes went
oh so well with the drinks too! We hung out at the picnic table drinking
margaritas, laughing, and telling stories all night till the booze was gone.
Saturday morning we got up feeling the effects of the good times the night
before and ate breakfast before getting ready for a full day of checking out
waterfalls, swimming around in the cool water, and lounging having good times.
We first headed back up to Havasu Falls and swam all around and jumped off of
everything we could find into the crystal clear pools. The water is colored
green from lime and travertine deposits, the deposits also makes all these cool
ledges and smaller waterfalls everywhere!
After hanging around for a bit then eating (theme of the weekend) we started down towards the 200ft Mooney Falls. After a mile through the woods
and we could hear, then see, the stream dropping another couple hundred
feet into another beautiful crystal green and blue pool of water. Wow
once again!!! This one had a different twist to it though....to get to the
bottom you had to duck through a couple rock tunnels then scramble down near
vertical rock while lowering yourself by chains and ladders. On top of all that,
the rock was incredibly slippery from lots of traffic and the constant mist
coming off the falls! It was fun fun fun!!! Same story at these falls....swim
around and play, then eat. Earlier we were saying how cool it would be if there
was a rope swing....VIOLA, there one was! Cassel and I also gave it our best
effort to swim up under the falls but only got within 15 or so feet from the
water and wind pounding us backwards.
Beaver Falls was just another 2 miles down the trail so we started off towards
them. The hiking is kinda slow going with rocks to crawl over, several stream
crossings, and lots of over-growth. We got to the tops of the falls and hung out
there while you guessed it....eating. This time it was hotdogs and beans though!
YUM! We retraced our path back to Mooney Falls where we came across a rescue
going on of a guy who was having back spasms and couldn't move. The helicopter
wouldn't come down to the base of the falls and they were waiting till morning
to try to drag him up the rocks and chains in a gurney......ummm, no thanks!
This entire time we were making indian jokes, often relating to the Simpsons and
swore that we would get scalped or cursed. Back at camp it was time for some
awesome (but gross looking) chicken burritos and a bottle of rum that Cassel and
Kim brought back from Venezuela. Ya know, we had to eat and drink as much as we
could to make our packs lighter for the way out! At one point we had our
headlamps pointing down
and noticed several spiders and "scorp-a-pedes" (that's what we dubbed
the half scorpion, half millipedes we kept seeing) under the picnic table! From
then on Jean stood on the bench and we all kept our feet up. Apparently the
lizards liked the inside of Cassel's tent and practically scared Kim out of her
skin later that night!
Sunday came and we lazily packed up and started the long hike out. It was great
to lose about 15lbs off my back! The helicopter kept flying over and mocking us
letting up know we could've been out 12 times by now if we took it! But there
was a cool breeze and some cloud cover to help keep things comfortable. Finally
at the last mile and looking up at about 1000ft of switchbacks! The temps cooled
down and it almost looked like it was going to rain...maybe this was our indian
curse, getting rained on. Nope, we made it out right before the rain and cracked
open some celebratory beers after 5.5hrs! YUM!!! We had dinner in the strange
town of Seligman again before Cassel and Kim headed to some posh resort in
Sedona while Jean and I headed to Flagstaff to get a hotel with a hot tub and
pack up for a hike of Arizona's highest peak the following day.......
Early Monday morning after the complimentary hotel breakfast we were heading
just north of Flagstaff to SnowBowl ski resort and the TH for Mt Humphrey's. It
was only in the high 20's so we put on what we had and headed up the trail from
the empty parking lot. Apparently this trail typically has hundreds of folks on
it during summer w/ends, but not a soul in sight today! Perfect! The
trail starts at 9,350ft and has big long and gently sloping switchbacks up to
treeline. We were surprised to see so much downfall and dead trees around. Most
of the trail through the forest was snow covered, despite the incredibly low
snow year that northern AZ had this winter. Definitely no need for crampons or
even snowshoes and we just crunched along long switchback after long switchback.
After 2hrs and 15mins we were above treeline and at the saddle between Agassiz
and Humphrey's. We took an eating break and headed along the ridge. There was
only snow in a few small patches and not a problem at all. Even the three false
summits weren't as bad as we figured and an hour after leaving to saddle we
popped up on the highest point in Arizona at 12,633ft! WooHoo! What a piece of
cake!!!! We snacked, took in the views, and tried to spot out the rims of the
Grand Canyon. There was a bit of a cold breeze, but otherwise gorgeous weather!
After lounging for a half hour we headed back down to the saddle. I got a case
of "just cause its there" and headed over to Agassiz Peak while Jean
stayed at the saddle. After a couple hundred vertical feet there was a big sign
stating that the peak is closed and comes with a $500 fine if you try to hike
it. Ooops. Being the law abiding citizen that I am, I turned around. *sigh* We
started down the long gentle switchbacks that now had lots of mud on them from
the melting snow and got back to the pea-sized car after 6hrs and 45mins total.
While reaching into the trunk I slammed my head on the door and almost knocked
myself silly! Luckily I just lost some skin and didn't bleed like a stuck pig, I
guess that's what I get for making fun of the car so much?!?! D'oh! We still had
a few hours to kill before our flight so we took the scenic route back to
Phoenix through Oak Creek Canyon, had a stop at Slide Rock, and dinner in
Sedona. I had no idea how similar to Moab Sedona is, so now we've gotta go back
and explore there!!!! What an awesome time in AZ during this quick trip.....from
1,000ft elevation in Phoenix to the highest point, amazing waterfalls, fun
backpacking, too much food, and WAY too many laughs and smiles. Puuurrrfect!!!