Tuesday, July 10: Grand Canyon: Havasu Canyon
A long Hike Down
We pretty much packed up the car the night before. We got up at 4:45, changed into our clothes, brought our last bag down to the car, got our breakfasts from the front desk (which we had bought the night before), and we were ready (and eating at 5:15).
The black van drove up just on the nose at 5:15, so we went over to put our stuff in and get in. There were a couple of confused Hispanic/Indian guys in the van. Fairly quickly we found out that this was not *our* black van. They had just stopped to get something at the lodge.
A minute later a different black van drove in. *That* was our van. What are the odds of the wrong black van arriving at the scheduled time just before the right black van?
We drove about an hour to the trail head. Our guide, Drew, talked to us about the area and the hike as we drove (and finished breakfast). We got there a bit before the other van, which had the other guide (Tess) and the other hikers (one family of 4 and one older couple).
The main theme for the hike (and to a lesser extent the whole weekend) was to keep hydrated, cool, and fed. The temperature was probably around 100 or more. We had a 10 mile hike to the campsite. We were told to drink 2-3 liters before the end of the hike. I ended up drinking one liter before we started.
At the start of the trail are some steep switchbacks down what is normally a cliff, and then a steep downgrade to the floor of the canyon. Then we had several miles of following the floor of the canyon, which was essentially level. This was hot and dry, and we took breaks (including a lunch break) in some of the few pockets of shade.
Eventually the trail tees into the main canyon, which has the Havasu creek in it. That was much nicer than the dry original canyon. We could splash water on ourselves. It seemed a bit cooler near the creek, and there were cottonwood trees that also provided some shade.
Around mile 8 or so, we got to the Indian village (the only Indians living in the floor of the Grand Canyon, and which has the only post office whose mail is delivered by mule). We registered and refilled water.
At this point, Amy was in hurting shape, so we stopped at the store (which was nominally air conditioned) and got her a cold drink. The other people hiked a bit further to a second store. When we left the store, Amy and Mike started first, and I was delayed by something or other. So I started out alone, with the guide some ways behind me. I hadn’t heard that we were supposed to stop at the store.
I kept expected to run across Amy and Mike, but I never did. I kept going until I pretty much got to the end of the village, and I decided that people had stopped, and that I had passed them. So I retraced my steps until I ran across them.
A while later, we started out again (as a whole group). A mile or so after the village, we stopped at a pool just below a waterfall. I had to change into my bathing suit, and the put on my Tevas. But I found that the water was a bit cool for swimming, so I just did a bit of wading. I really wanted my tripod, but I had sent that down with the mule loads.
One of the guides went ahead to prepare the campsite. I wasn’t into wading and wanted to take some waterfall pix, but I didn’t have my tripod. I took some pictures with my monopod, but I don’t know how good they came out.
After a while, I put on my hiking boots again, and we hiked a ways further. We had a bit of down, and then we ended up next to the Havasu Falls. There was a better swimming hole there. That was almost at the end of the campsites, so I walked down with Tess to find the campsite and get my tripod. Having gotten it, I hiked back and spent the next while taking waterfall pictures (and wading around the pool to do so). Eventually Tess came back and told us it was time to head to camp.
We probably started the hike around 7:30 or so. With the stops, lunch, and swimming breaks, we probably reached camp around 4 or 5. There were a number of two-person tents set up, so we grabbed one. Mike wanted to sleep in the same tent as Amy, so I got one to myself.
There was a bit of time before dinner, so I went back and took some more waterfall pictures.
Pretty much when it got dark, we went to bed. We could hear the stream running through the campground. The main downside was that it was still hot. I think it was maybe 85. That wasn’t hot as compared to the hike down, but it was rather hot for sleeping.
We each had an air mattress (Big Agnes), a fleece sleeping bag, and a pillow. The air mattress did not have the foam core (i.e. was not self-inflating), but it was darned comfortable.
Most of us took the flies off of our tents, as the “tent itself” was mostly netting. Without the fly, there was a lot more airflow inside. Because of the heat, I ended up just sleeping in my underwear on top of the air mattress and ignored the sleeping bag. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a lot of problems sleeping. Towards the end of the night, it cooled off enough that I pulled a corner of the sleeping bag over me.
Unfortunately, the main casualty of the day was Amy. She pretty much trashed her feet. She guessed that she is going to lose three toe-nails, and she had a number of large blisters on the bottoms of both feet. In short, she could barely walk.