My First Backpacking Trip | Havasupai Falls

I debated a lot whether or not to do a post on this, because it has nothing to do with vintage trailers or a trip in my Stevie girl. But the more I thought it over, the more I realized that Stevie the ’53 isn’t necessarily just about vintage rigs or traveling in a camper – it’s about seeking adventure. Whether it be in my camper, or buying a home, or my first time backpacking, Stevie was just the first step in this journey of mine.

I’ve been wanting to make this trip for a few years now. To be honest, it was spurred by the influx of Instagram photos of the bright turquoise water that started showing up everywhere, and soon the Insta-famous destination at the bottom of the Grand Canyon was the new “place to be.” Speaking to those who hiked Havasupai over a decade ago, there were about a dozen people on the trail. When I went, there were several hundred and permits had sold out in mere minutes when they opened in February.

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I wasn’t able to get a permit (after 3 years of trying!) and so I had reserved myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be making the trip this year and would have to try again for 2019. But by an act of sheer divine intervention, an acquaintance from high school posted that she had access to a few extra permits. The timing was impressively perfect. I had been having a rough few weeks and desperately needed to shake something up. A solo trip that was equal parts amazing adventure + self-torture seemed right in line with what I desperately needed.

Turns out the trip was just about two weeks away. Yikes. I have never backpacked before, and my current workout schedule consisted of marathons (the Netflix variety) and lots of bicep curls – i.e., reaching into the bag of chips. But I wasn’t about to pass this up. It was like the universe put this trip in my path and said, “Here. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Crush something.”

I threw myself into preparation: breaking in my hiking boots, narrowing down my packing list to be as light as possible (I made about 8 trips to REI, not even kidding), and squeezing in a few training hikes. Little did I know that my cute little 4- and 7-mile prep hikes would be nothing compared to the 40+ miles I would hike over the weekend.

When the day finally came, I got off work early, loaded my gear (all 26 pounds of it, yikes) into the car and made the drive up to the Hualapai Hilltop for a night of sleeping in my car at the trailhead. I was surprised how cold it was! Even in late April, the temps at night were in the mid 30s and I probably got about two hours of sleep, perfect for the night before a 10-mile hike…

Luckily I met up with a great group of people who had also purchased leftover permits at the last minute, so I didn’t have to endure the hike alone! Honestly, the way in was not that bad. I was running on adrenaline, and practically skipped the first 2 miles. Once we hit the flat ground, it became a bit of a slog but the views hiking through the canyon and the amazing weather (it had warmed up to mid-60s) made it pretty easy!

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The hard for me was arriving in Supai Village. We checked in at the office, and took our packs off for about 20 minutes for a water/snack/bathroom break. Putting them back on was TORTURE. And the remaining two miles was even worse – the entire trail was sand until the campground, and man was that rough! By the time we started seeing the first tents, my calves were on fire and I couldn’t wait to put all my gear down and rest. Apparently the group agreed with me, because the first thing we all did was nap for two hours!

I could go on for thousands of words about the rest of the trip, but I think I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves 🙂

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The trail down to Mooney Falls is nooo joke. Slippery, straight down with only some rusty old chains to hold onto!
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& it’s not any drier at the bottom!
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Amazing views on the way to Beaver Falls
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Only a few perilous climbs, made possible by my Keens ❤
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Hanging out in a little hidden lagoon – worth the freezing water temps!
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Beaver Falls – slightly treacherous and VERY crowded.
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Havasupai Falls
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Mooney Falls – it’s impossible to explain how small I felt in the presence of these falls.
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Cute little hidden waterfall we found in the canyon – perfect place to stop for lunch!
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Fifty Foot Falls – looks like Hawaii but a lot cheaper 😛
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My little slice of heaven on the creek 🙂

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On the day we left, we woke up at 3:30 and rushed to cook a quick breakfast, chug some coffee and get going before the sun came up. I went into the hike out pretty optimistic, but it went downhill (or rather, uphill) pretty quickly. I had no idea on the way down that it was a very gradual decline (it seemed pretty flat), but wowwww did I feel that gradual incline on the way up! But despite that, the group made pretty good time, and we beat the sun until about the last 2 hours of the hike out. And then, the switchbacks, which is the last 1.5 miles of the hike, and are pretty much a straight climb out of the canyon. They’re just as hard as everyone says they are – x10!

But finally, I rounded the corner for the

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Sweaty, smelly, and feeling so accomplished at the top of the canyon!

last switchback and realized: I did it, and WOW did it feel amazing to finish. I actually threw my arms in the air and yelled “Yes!!!” at the top, realizing afterwards that a huge group of people were sitting waiting for the friends and laughing at me…oh well! It was an unreal feeling to know that I had conquered over 40 miles in four days, carrying about a quarter of my body weight on my back.

I had left a ton of delicious snacks in my car – poptarts, peanut butter, a frozen water bottle that had melted into delicious cold water, and sat in my car for about 30 minutes just breathing, eating and drinking it all in. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I can’t wait to go back. If anyone has any extra permits laying around, let me know 😉

 

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One thought on “My First Backpacking Trip | Havasupai Falls

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  1. Fantastic!! I went with family and friends a “number” of years ago —and my pack was too heavy too — you’re right, what a wonderful experience!

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