Friday, May 4, 2018

Havasupai AZ - Day 1

On Friday morning we left Peach Springs, AZ and drove one hour to the hilltop parking lot, where the hike begins. We arrived at around 9 am and spent a significant amount of time trying to find a place to park our vehicle. The parking lot was full and roadside parking was bumper to bumper for a long way down the path.

The parking lot was full of mules used to carry tourists packs. Havasupai is the only place left in the US where the US postal service delivers mail by mules also.

Eventually, we decided to split up. I headed to the helicopter area to claim our place in line while Todd stayed back.

Our friends, the Davis' who were traveling with us, have never flown on a helicopter, so we chose to fly into the canyon that way.

Tribe natives have priority over tourists, so we had to wait for several hours for our turn to fly. It became really frustrating to see people pull up in their cars and jump right on the helicopter, while we had to continue to wait.

The Havasupai people have to leave the village and drive at least an hour to go grocery shopping. Next to the helicopter pad is a parking lot designated for locals. Since there is no way to drive to the bottom, local residents have to park their cars here and then fly down to their homes.

Several families pulled up with trunks full of food, household products, diapers, and other necessities. They carried freezer bags filled with food. One family even had a small freezer chest they were transporting down.

The air transportation staff on the ground would lay out nets on the ground and then move the products into it. When the pilot was ready for a load. They would cinch close the opening across the top and attach a rope to the bottom of the helicopter.

For these flights, the helicopter pilot removed his door so that he could hang his head out and check to see that the cargo was OK.

Once ready, he flew straight up until the rope was taut and then proceeded to fly down the canyon.
Once our turn came, our flight lasted less than 5 minutes.

Once in Supai, a small town of less than 500 residents, we got some lunch while we waited for the lodge registration to open. One thing I realized right away, is how slow things move in Supai. Everything takes FOREVER!

The helicopter took forever, our food took forever, the hotel registration took forever. By the time we were ready to hike, it was nearly 2pm.

We walked the two miles distance from town to the campground. We reached Havasupai Falls right before camp. The water was a beautiful blue color due to lime residue in the water. There were still a lot of people swimming, so we decided to continue onto Mooney Falls.

The hike down to Mooney Falls is treacherous. We had to climb down two steep tunnels and then descend along the rockface by holding on to chains, slippery ladders and sometimes, bare rock. Because of its difficulty and height, there aren't as many people at the bottom of these falls.

When I decided to hike down to the falls in my water shoes, I was mainly concerned with blisters from rubbing in the water. I didn't think of all of the sand on the trail. My shoes were packed with sand for the four miles we hiked.

There was one more waterfall I wanted to see, but unfortunately, we didn't have enough sunlight to make it there and back. And, I didn't want to climb the ladder to Mooney Falls in the dark. I'm saving it for a future visit.

On our way back we had some Havasupai Navajo Burgers. The food was fresh (I actually saw it fly into town) and homemade. Plus, we were starved, so it tasted delicious.

We decided to hike out early the next morning, so after returning to our lodge, we just went to bed.