Tips and Tricks: Havasu Falls Edition

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If you are planning on going on the hike to Havasu Falls, I can’t recommend it more highly. It was incredible, and well worth the effort. Unless you are physically incapable of getting there on foot, hike it in. The payoff for the hike, Havasu Falls, is so much more worth it after having hiked 10+ miles in the draining sun, with a heavy backpack. Don’t cheat, backpack.

If you make the wise decision to adventure in on foot, here are some useful tips for the journey:

Reservation: First off, make sure you have obtained your permit and made your reservation in advance. Day trips in and out are not allowed and you need to have a wristband (which will be periodically checked) to be in the campground. Each year there is a certain date when they open up reservations for that year. If you don’t call within that first week,  you most likely won’t be able to get in. Don’t be deterred by your call not being answered. Keep calling and eventually you will get through. It’s worth it.

We made our reservation late, so we were limited on how long we could stay, but I highly recommend having one day to hike in, two to stay and do day hikes, and one day to hike out. Also, the temperatures in March were great for hiking, but cold if you wanted to swim. I’ve heard that going in May you get a good balance of both.

Scheduling: Plan to stay the night before at a hotel, the nearest ones being an hour+away. Leave early so that you can hike in the cool temperatures. It will take 3 – 6 hours to hike in, depending on your hiking speed/ability. The hike out will take longer because it is a constant uphill walk. We had another hotel booked for that night.

The Hike: It’s long and hard, but totally doable if you have trained your body for the strain that you will put on it. Remember that you will have a backpack on which will also put strain on your body. For the last part of the hike, during the 1200 foot climb, some members of our groups swear by the 2oo steps goal. Take 200 steps then take a break. Repeat until you arrive at the top.

Hydration: There is no water along the trail. Come prepared to hike at least 10 miles to the campground before refreshing your water. I carried a two liter hydration pack in my backpack. I also packed a couple smaller water bottles and gatorade packets, which I would mix up as needed when I need to refuel electrolytes.

Snacks: Instead of stopping for a meal, which would slow us down, we snacked during the hike in and out. Each person had their own snack pack that we kept in outside pockets of the pack for easy access. We enjoyed homemade trail mix, Larabars, Larabar bites, hard candies, fruit leather, cuties, carrot sticks, and M&M’s (our favorite backpacking chocolate because it doesn’t melt the same way as other chocolate). The fresh, and heavy items, we ate on the way in, packaged on the way out. Eat often to keep up energy.

We highly recommend stopping in to one of the diners in Supai to get the frybread, either with powdered sugar or as a taco. They were sooo good after that long hike. We may have gotten both…

Meals: We were blessed to have my mom to plan the food, because she is a genius when it comes to eating well while backpacking. The meals were placed in packets (Ziplock bags) and dispersed among the hikers in our group. Some of her backpacking specialties (not all eaten on this trip) include:

  • Breakfast:
    • Instant oatmeal packets, hot chocolate or cider packets, and fruit leather.
    • Dehydrated eggs, bacon bits, dehydrated hash browns, wrapped in a tortilla with ketchup packets.
  • Lunch/Dinner:
    • Tortilla wraps with chicken from a packet, mayo packets (like you get from a fast food place), cranberries, and almonds. Eaten with dehydrated sweet potatoes.
    • Cheesy mashed potatoes (from a packet), sweet pork jerky (from Costco – tastes like a pulled pork sandwich), dehydrated edamame.
    • Angel hair pasta mixed with Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and sausage. Eaten with flatbread and fruit leather.
    • Bear Creek dehydrated soup eaten with flatbread.
    • Mountain House dehydrated meals.
  • Dessert:
    • Pudding – instant pudding mix with dehydrated milk placed in Ziplock bags, mixed with cold water and shaken to create the pudding texture.
    • S’mores – marshmallows, Nutella in a tube (you can purchase the tube at outdoor retailers and then fill with whatever you want), graham crackers.
  • Note that no fires are allowed so you have to cook everything over a camp stove.

 

Bathroom Breaks: There are port-a-potties at the trail head and restrooms at the store and diner in Supai, as well as long drop toilets in the campground, but nothing for the rest of the trail. Make sure you bring a poop shovel and toilet paper as well as some anti-bacterial gel. There are plenty of places to pop a squat while completely hidden along the way.

Our Complete Packing List: Many of these items were spread between the 10 people on the hike. One person did not have every item in their pack. Try to keep the pack under 20lbs. Your body will thank you.

  • Map/GPS/Compass
  • Permit/reservation information
  • Backpack
  • Small daypack
  • Big camelback – 2 Liters
  • Trekking pole – if needed
  • Headlamp
  • Solar powered lantern
  • Tent
  • Sleeping pads
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow (or use clothes rolled up in sleeping bag pack)
  • Hammock
  • Butane Stove – no fires allowed
  • Fuel
  • 1 small pot
  • 1 larger pot
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Plate, utensils, and cup
  • Food and snack packets (see above)
  • Knife
  • Poop scoop shovel
  • Large plastic bag for trash – pack it in, pack it out
  • Water filter – for day hikes, water from spring in campground
  • Electronics: DSLR camera, extra SD cards, iPhone, solar powered charger, selfie stick
  • First aid kit
  • Backpacking towel
  • Tennis ball to massage out sore feet and muscles (a dancer’s best friend)
  • Cash for fry bread, general store, and/or misc expenses
  • Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories
    • Underwear
    • Jacket, gloves, beanie – cool at night and in morning
    • Clothing that can be layered or altered according to the weather
    • Hat – great to shade face while hiking
    • Pajamas
    • Swimsuit
    • Water shoes
    • Hiking boots
    • Hiking socks – Wool or synthetic
    • Sunglasses
    • Bandanna
  • Toiletries – share to reduce weight
    • Sunscreen
    • Lip balm
    • Bug spray
    • Deodorant
    • Toothpaste
    • Toothbrush – don’t share this one…
    • Floss
    • TOILET PAPER!

Trail Distances

  • Hulapai Hilltop to Campgrounds – 10 Miles
  • Hulalap Hilltop to Supai – 8 Miles
  • Supai to Campground – 2 Miles (more if you have to walk up and down trying to find a campsite, which is likely)
  • Campground to Mooney Falls – 0.5 Miles
  • Mooney Falls To Colorado River – 8 Miles
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