Arizona – Grand Canyon – Havasupai Falls

This is true beauty!  I would know, because I researched it on the internet haha.  This is one of the images that comes up if you google ‘havasupai falls’.  Image  SO PRETTY right?  Well I visited, and it is not far off!  This trip is WORTH it, believe me.

I made this trip last October (one of the best months to go) because the weather is a lot cooler at the top (IE not 110 degrees).  I was itching for this hike, so I reserved a spot (a must) for four and started calling my friends.  I ended up bringing Danger Dan and his girl friend, and my hiking buddy Erin.  A great group!  I had to borrow most of the gear I brought for this, because sadly I don’t own too much camping gear.  I borrowed a pack, sleeping bag, light, sleeping pad.. well just about everything.  I DID have hiking shoes ;).

We were all set to leave the next morning, time to pack!  And pack I did.. with waaay too much fun.  My pack weighed in at around 40 lbs.  Amatuer..  Image (My pack left, and Erins pack right).  We left and started the 6 hour drive from Phoenix towards the Grand Canyon.  We decided it would be best to stay the night at the hotel just before the Grand Canyon (about an hour from the trail) and get up early to hit the trail early.  We had breakfast around 6 and hit the road at 7.  We arrived around 8 am.  This was one of those hikes that was beautiful just being in the parking lot!  Image

We hefted our packs on our shoulders and began our descent.  *This trail is 13 miles each way, beginning with a 2,000 ft descent of about 2 miles, the rest of the 11 miles being flat.  The way back is the tough part!  The views of the descent were amazing, however.  This was the Grand Canyon, after all!  We made really good time down the descent, enjoying the views the entire way.  Image

We passed a lot of mules and natives that were working hard, bringing gear up and down from the parking lot.  The great thing about this hike is that you can pay for mules to take down all of your gear (coolers included ;).)  We did not have that luxury this time, but we were not deterred.  Image

Once we were at the bottom, the rest of the trail narrowed and felt like walking on sand.  It was actually quite tough in some parts, because the ground would give so much.  We spent a couple hours hiking through Canyon walls, it was surreal.  Image

Eventually we hit a sign that read ‘Havasupai – You’re almost there!’  Spirits were lifted!  We wanted to play in waterfalls we had read about so we picked up our pace.  We started passing creeks, rivers, as blue as you could imagine!  Pretty soon we reached a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  A tribe of about 500 lives down here year round.  It is pretty crazy to think about, since everything they need has to be brought down by mule or helicopter.  They really rely on the tourism, so they treat everyone pretty nice.  We signed in at the village, and walked the remaining mile or so to the campsite, passing Havasu Falls!  It was just as beautiful, if not more awe inspiring, as the pictures on the internet.  ImageImageImageImage  We quickly hiked down to the campsite, and apparently it was crowded.  There were almost NO campsites left!  It was already 2pm, all I wanted to do was play, but I knew we had to claim some space.  We walked around uncertainly for about 30 minutes until we found a spot we could all fit, with a picnic bench.  We set up, and changed into our bathing suits.  It was play time!  ImageImageImageImageImage

We had our fun swimming, and went back to eat.  I wanted to check out the next waterfall called Mooney Falls.  The campsite is actually located between Havasu and Mooney Falls, the end of the campsite hovers above Mooney Falls.  It is about a 150 ft drop, and it is breathtaking!  We did some exploring, but ultimately did not have enough daylight or energy left to explore in full.  Next time (there will definitely be a next time) we will spend more days down there.  ImageImageThis last picture was taken from a picnic bench right next to a campsite, believe it or not.  That’s how close you are!  Scary when you think about it..

Well, it got dark too soon!  And the parties were starting.  We were too tired to partake, so we went to bed.  We woke up at 6 am and hit the trail, doing the 13 miles back in just over 4 hours.  This was exhausting.  If you have never been, please do not hike down, only to hike up the very next day.  Not only is your body going to be super sore, you do not have enough time to enjoy the waterfalls.  Give Havasu Falls what it deserves, at LEAST 2 nights.  There is a general store down there that sells ice cream and sodas, believe it or not!  The campsite has restrooms.  It’s an amazing hike, and I would recommend it for everyone!


#1 Humphreys Peak (12,633 ft.) Coconino County high point

Grit: : firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. 

This ended up being one of the toughest hikes I have been on in quite a while.  The combination of the altitude (12,633 ft.), the mileage 4.7 miles each way (the longest 4.7 miles EVER), the elevation gains (3,333 ft. each way) creates a uniquely tough hike!  ADD mother nature, wind speeds clocking in at a strong 50-60 mph at the peak, with gusts upwards of 70 mph, and you have a recipe for how my day went!

We started the 3 hours drive from Tempe at around 7 am and made it to the parking lot just after 10 am.  It started out nicely enough in a green pasture at about 9300 ft.  It was a beautiful 75 degrees out and was supposed to get into the 80s.  I had a String Cheese Incident song stuck on replay in my head and I was loving life!


Pretty soon we hit the trees and started huffing up the switchbacks, which weren’t even steep..(yet).  However, I was already out of breath being at 9300 ft. and not being acclimated.


The sun was shining through the pine trees, illuminating the lush green grass, it was a very pretty hike and we were making good time!  We had passed about four other hikers by this point.  We started making some serious elevation gains, and we were seriously straining for breath, and then we came upon some interesting rock slides, possibly from an old avalanche.

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By the time we had reached the saddle, the wind started hitting HARD!  We ran into a couple people that turned around at the saddle complaining of the cold harsh winds.  The three of us were dressed in tee shirts and shorts, with no warm clothing, one of us had only a wife beater on, so onward we pressed!

And we discovered it was now about 60 degrees max, with 30mph winds!  WOO!  Here is a picture of me posing with some snow in the distance, and a picture of what had to be an avalanche.

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But the weather would only get worse.  At the saddle we had spoken to two people who had summited earlier, and were on the way back down.  They warned us that the wind was at least twice as strong on the top, and they had to crawl on hands and knees to get to the peak.  They let us know it was very dangerous and wished us luck.  We started getting a little nervous.  But onward we push!


At this point, the trail got ‘real’.  It was no longer 30 mph winds, but 40-50, and the temperature had dropped to 45-50 degrees.  There was absolutely no tree cover as we had passed the treeline.  The only thing we could do was hike as fast as we could to the summit (which was not very fast).  The altitude had started to set in, we were around 12,000 ft by now.  We each had our turns of dizzy spells, and were out of breath just walking 30 ft.  The wind was not helping.  We had passed 9 people, all 9 had said they turned around before the summit (but had made it far) because the weather was just too dangerous.  NOT HELPING!  Here are a couple pictures of where the trail got ‘real’.

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But the views were too amazing, and we were too close to listen to any of those Naysayers.  That day.. We had grit.  At the 2nd false summit, the wind stopped gusting and started fiercely blowing non stop.  We were stumbling left and right, I had to put my sunglasses away, we stuck real low to the ground and just scrambled up to the summit (pictured up above on the right).  AND…

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WE MADE IT!  We lasted 10 minutes at the summit, took some pictures (up above), and bounced real quick.  We crouched real low, got blown all around the place and finally got to where the wind was only 30-40mph again.  Then we hiked the longest 4.7 miles EVER to the car, cracked open some Leinenkugels and made our way back down to the 110 degree heat in Phoenix.

From there, I was a filthy mess, but I turned on to catch the last couple periods of the Bruins game.  All in all, it was a great day 🙂


#10 Mt. Union (7979 ft.) Yavapai County high point

I was in need of some adventure and stumbled across a website that had the 15 highest peaks in the 15 different counties of Arizona.  New hikes?  Perfect!  A way out of the heat?  Ideal!  I put together a list of friends that might share my enthusiasm for impulsive adventure, and targeted our first peak.  Mt. Union.

This seemed to be the closest hike that we were capable of doing in the summer.  This was a couple hour drive, past prescott and is the highest point in Yavapai County.  After reaching Prescott we drove another 30 miles and onto a death trap of a dirt road that finally led us to our destination.  After a little white knuckling in the car, we got out and started our journey.

After a relatively easy hike we had reached the top.  Upon getting out of the car, I had realized my error of not packing sunscreen.  In fact, none of us had packed sunscreen.  Being the only person of Irish descent of the group, I was sunburned immediately.  The hike was relatively easy, and ended up at a fire watch station that is in use for the summers.
The guy running the station is more than happy to talk all day long about how he spots fires, and his travels to India and won’t be modest about stating to everyone how much better his life is than yours.

I took a little nap in his hammock, but quickly grew tired of listening to how much more this barefoot hippie knew than the rest of us, so we finally evacuated the fire tower and made our way down.  Here are some pictures of the summit, you can see for miles on a sunny day!


The fire tower hammock at the top.  Enjoy yourself, but be prepared to have some unwilling knowledge bombs dropped on you.


‘Dr Sues’ trees at the top.


Me and Danger Dan at the top of Mt. Union.

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