Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hiking Havasu, Day 1: From Hilltop to Village

Friday, November 28, 2014

On Thursday night, we stayed at the Deluxe Inn Motel in Seligman, AZ. Seligman is along Historic Route 66, and was the best option for us to stay at because it's only 1 ½ hours away from the trailhead. We enjoyed a delicious hotel room breakfast, then took off around 7. We enjoyed seeing Burma Shave signs along the highway as we drove.

If Daisies Are
Your favorite flower
Keep pushing up
Those miles per hour
Burma Shave

The sunset was glorious, however the low temperatures were scaring us. Thankfully they reached above freezing by the time we were ready to start hiking. As we drove along the deserted highway, we saw lots of elk along the side of the road.

All bundled up at the trailhead!

Ready to go!

The parking lot was quite full when we arrived around 8:30. We got some pictures at the trailhead before beginning our trek. In Curtis' backpack, he carried all our dehydrated food and snacks, clothes, cooking supplies, first aid, and anything else we needed. I was the "water mule," so I carried 6 liters of water, and our letterboxing supplies. Somehow, a "community bag" was created, and Curtis just so happened to be the one who had to carry it.

When I imagined this hike, I pictured it being similar to the trails in the Grand Canyon - long and switchbacking all the way down the canyon. I thought that all 10 miles would be like that, but it turned out that only the first 1 ½ to 2 miles were descending into the canyon, and all the rest were walking along mostly flat ground, through the canyon to the Supai village.

The first mile was very sandy and difficult to walk downhill in. I was very thankful for my hiking poles for keeping me upright whenever I lost my footing. The sand was also hard on our ankles. 

Here comes a mule stampede!

Here come the mules! Mules are used to carry mail, trash, supplies, and luggage if visitors so choose. When you see or hear them coming, it's important to get off the trail and as far away as possible until they pass. Mules get the right of way!

After making it down the canyon, we continued on our way through. The ground changed between sand and rock, and varied between shades of white, tan, and red. By the end of the trail, our boots told the story of what we had walked through!

The canyon walls far in the distance are where we are headed.

The only struggle we really faced was our heavy backpacks. We were thankful that the trail was relatively easy though, thanks to months of training! For the most part, all the breaks we took were for taking pictures. We didn't stop for a real break until we were over halfway through, and then we only had fruit snacks and pushed on to the end!

Look out for mules!

The higher the canyon walls are, the closer you are to the village. I loved being around these beautiful red rocks again.

This weekend turned out to be the perfect weekend to go on this adventure. While it was cool in the mornings, it warmed up to comfortable hiking weather. The best part though was the beautiful fall colors contrasting with the red rocks!

The first pools of water that we came across

"You're almost there!" 

Our happy and excited little group!

In the last 1 ½ miles, our surroundings became more lush, surrounded by trees and the flowing creek. We crossed the bridge and soon were entering the Supai village!

Entering the village

From where we entered the village, there was still another half mile to the village center and lodge where we were staying. It's such a beautiful, peaceful spot to be - so removed from society and consumerism that was going on in the rest of the country, with the beautiful canyon walls surrounding the area.

We reached the lodge at 12:30, after 4 hours on the 10 mile trail. It was closed over the noon hour, so we sat outside and enjoyed turkey legs and more fruit snacks. 

Our room

When you visit Supai, you have the option of either staying in the lodge or camping. The lodge is actually quite nice, and we were especially thankful for the clean bathroom with running water. Make reservations far in advance, it was booked for this weekend! (We had made ours in June!) Oh, and there was wifi as well! I enjoyed Snapchatting with my family from the bottom of the canyon. :)

First look at Upper Navajo Falls

After getting our room and settling in, we took off on a short afternoon hike to see a few of the waterfalls. We were hoping to hike 20 miles the next day, so taking time to enjoy some of the waterfalls today would help us get a head start before tomorrow. We hit the trail once more, and it led us through the remainder of the Supai village and began following the creek. 

As we came nearer and nearer, the sound of the falls became more and more clear. We were all giddy with the anticipation of finally seeing the falls and the blue water. We came to a clearing in the trees, and here is the first waterfall that we saw!

This one is called Upper Navajo Falls. We took a side trail and came right up next to the water. Further ahead we could hear other people enjoying the next set of falls, but we had this one to ourself. 

Here are some pictures from Mitchell's camera. I love the bright, vibrant colors that pop out without any editing!

After enjoying these falls a while, we went just a bit further downstream to the Lower Navajo falls. 

Lower Navajo Falls

Continuing on the trail, the next waterfall is a little farther away. However, the trail followed the river as it looped around, giving us more beautiful views of both falls that we had just seen, and the canyon walls all around.

Mitchell had been here once before, so he knew about some of the great views overlooking Havasu Falls. We took another side trail to the edge of the canyon wall on which we were standing, and took in the beautiful views down below!

Looking down from the top of Havasu Falls

Travertine rock

After that, we continued down the trail just a bit until we got the full view of the waterfall - the beautiful Havasu Falls!

The trail heading down to the falls

After enjoying the view from here, we went down to enjoy Havasu Falls from the bottom. We spent the most time here, taking it in from all different angles.

Curtis here to answer the obvious question: "So why's the water blue?"  The water in the Havasu Creek is naturally loaded with Calcium Carbonates (lime).  As the water flows, the lime precipitates out in two ways.  The first is in the form of travertine.  These are all the brown rock formations like in the picture below.  Interestingly, the travertine forms very fast (as far as geological formations go) so the shape of the falls changes fairly often (especially with flooding).  The fact that the wall in the picture below has so much "flow stone" on it also suggests that at some point in time, perhaps all at once, the entire wall was a water fall!!

The second way that the calcium carbonate precipitates out is in the form of raw lime.  This is able to happen the easiest when the water rests in pools.  Lime in this form is a white chalky powder that coats the bottom of the pools like in the picture below.  

Now the cool part.  The water isn't actually blue.  Rather it is clear like any normal water.  It only appears blue because the white bottoms of the pools are reflecting the blue sky!  The exact same reason that your swimming pool looks blue.

The entrance to one of the many caves.
Along the wall surrounding the waterfall, there were a set of small caves. Curtis went right on inside to check them out. In the above cave, there was more running water.

Cave popcorn

We thought about remaining here until sunset so that we could see the moon over the falls, but decided that it would be likely that we'd be hiking back in the dark the next day and could see it then. Instead, we went back to the lodge where Curtis cooked us a delicious meal!

The guys as we were arriving back to the lodge

The outside of the lodge

Dinner after day 1!

End of day 1 - Hiked 14 miles
Read Day 2 Here
Read Day 3 Here

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