Havasu and Humphreys
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As of a few years ago, I had never heard of Havasu Canyon and Falls. Then Cassel raved about it for weeks saying it was the most beautiful place he's ever seen. Good enough for me.....ever since then I've been wanting to go! I passed up an opportunity to do the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim with a bunch of cool folks, but we started the ball rolling for plans into Havasu Canyon. WOWZA is all I can say, definitely one of the most beautiful places I've EVER seen!
On Thursday night we caught a cheap Southwest Airlines flight to Phoenix, picked up our tiny Cheve Aveo (AKA. Turd-mobile, Silver Bullet, Thumbilina) and joked non-stop about how small it was. That came back to haunt me, but more about that later. We stayed in an El Cheap-O hotel so we could get an early start on Friday. Friday morning we headed up to Flagstaff where we stopped for some last minute food items and tried to find MSR fuel for our stove. The first and only place we stopped only had Primus fuel, but the canister seemed to fit. A block later I decided to try, just in case, since I've had these great plans backfire oh too often! No worky work. So we headed back to the gear shop and just bought a Primus stove guaranteed to work with the fuel. Okay, back on the road and Havasu01.JPG (77667 bytes)a stop along Route 66 in the very strange town of Seligman at the Road Kill Cafe. Good stuff. An hour or so later we were at the crowded trailhead for Havasu Canyon looking for Cassel and Kim who were meeting us there coming from Vegas. Good timing, we found them and they had just been there 5 minutes! This was a surprise trip for Kim so Vegas, Havasu and (later) Sedona were all a surprise! Not being a hiker, never been camping, and not into the idea of carrying a backpack.....it was QUITE the surprise! She was a good sport though and did awesome.
Apparently the recent magazine articles about Havasu have done wonders for visitors. There were a couple hundredHavasu04.JPG (131541 bytes) cars, a couple dozen horses getting loaded up with stuff to pack in for people, and quite a bit of trash. They make it so just about anyone can get into the village of the Havasu Indian 8 miles away....you can take a helicopter, hike in with your stuff, or hike in and have a horse carry your stuff in and meet you in the village; then once there you can camp or stay at a hotel in the village! Plenty 'O options. Of Havasu09.JPG (115662 bytes)course we chose to backpack in with all our stuff and stay in the campground.
We had monster backpacks full of WAY too much food and plenty of booze, we strapped up and headed off. The first mile is steep switchbacks to the canyon floor, very similar to the grand canyon south rim trails. It was a beautiful day and off we went knowing we had 8 miles to the village then another 2.2 miles to the campground. Once on the canyon floor it was very similar to hiking through Utah...some sand and rocks, and cool views all around. It was awesome and easy to follow. It got pretty warm at times, but a breeze would blow through or there would be some shade to duck into. We took a bunch of breaks and took our grand old time hiking in. The tequila and pot roast in my pack was getting heavier and I wasHavasu20.JPG (145464 bytes) about ready to be done. After a few hours the scene slowly changed to a nice clear stream and cottonwood trees. Shortly after we were in Havasupai Village. The village consists of some run down houses, horses and cows, a church, school, hotel, and a couple small stores. We found where to check in at and got a map, from there it was just 2.2miles to the campground. We came across the first set of waterfalls, Navajo Falls, that just seems to run out of the canyon walls. This was just a sampler of what was to come! Around another corner we all stopped and our jaws dropped to the ground for Havasu Falls!!! WOW! Its this Havasu21.JPG (117632 bytes)giant waterfall that pours off the top of the red sandstone canyon and drops 100ft into a giant pool of crystal clear blue/green water. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! All of a sudden our packs seemed weightless and the 10miles were like nothing. After a bunch of pictures, staring over our shoulders and tripping over the trail, we made our way into the packed camp with tents just about everywhere after 5hrs and 20mins. Across the stream and through the woods we found a nice place to setup shop. Jean started on the tent, Cassel and Kim started on the water, and I started on the margaritas! Can't camp with out a bottle of tequila, Cointrau and Baja Bobs marg mix, right?! The pot roast and mashed potatoes wentHavasu27.JPG (88928 bytes) oh so well with the drinks too! We hung out at the picnic table drinking margaritas, laughing, and telling stories all night till the booze was gone.
Saturday morning we got up feeling the effects of the good times the night before and ate breakfast before getting ready for a full day of checking out waterfalls, swimming around in the cool water, and lounging having good times. We first headed back up to Havasu Falls and swam all around and jumped off of everything we could find into the crystal clear pools. The water is colored green from lime and travertine deposits, the deposits also makes all these cool ledges and smaller waterfalls everywhere!
Havasu43.JPG (128292 bytes) After hanging around for a bit then eating (theme of the weekend) we started down towards the 200ft Mooney Falls. After a mile through the woods and we could hear, then see, the stream dropping another couple hundred feet into another beautiful crystal green and blue pool of water. Wow once again!!! This one had a different twist to it though....to get to the bottom you had to duck through a couple rock tunnels then scramble down near vertical rock while lowering yourself by chains and ladders. On top of all that, the rock was incredibly slippery from lots of traffic and the constant mist coming off the falls! It was fun fun fun!!! Same story at these falls....swim around and play, then eat. Earlier we were saying how cool it would be if there was a rope swing....VIOLA, there one was! Cassel and I also gave it our best effort to swim up under the falls but only got within 15 or so feet from the water and wind pounding us backwards.Havasu49.JPG (119251 bytes)
Beaver Falls was just another 2 miles down the trail so we started off towards them. The hiking is kinda slow going with rocks to crawl over, several stream crossings, and lots of over-growth. We got to the tops of the falls and hung out there while you guessed it....eating. This time it was hotdogs and beans though! YUM! We retraced our path back to Mooney Falls where we came across a rescue going on of a guy who was having back spasms and couldn't move. The helicopter wouldn't come down to the base of the falls and they were waiting till morning to try to drag him up the rocks and chains in a gurney......ummm, no thanks! This entire time we were making indian jokes, often relating to the Simpsons and swore that we would get scalped or cursed. Back at camp it was time for some awesome (but gross looking) chicken burritos and a bottle of rum that Cassel and Kim brought back from Venezuela. Ya know, we had to eat and drink as much as we could to make our packs lighter for the way out! At one point we had our headlamps pointing Havasu72.JPG (97043 bytes)down and noticed several spiders and "scorp-a-pedes" (that's what we dubbed the half scorpion, half millipedes we kept seeing) under the picnic table! From then on Jean stood on the bench and we all kept our feet up. Apparently the lizards liked the inside of Cassel's tent and practically scared Kim out of her skin later that night!
Sunday came and we lazily packed up and started the long hike out. It was great to lose about 15lbs off my back! The helicopter kept flying over and mocking us letting up know we could've been out 12 times by now if we took it! But there was a cool breeze and some cloud cover to help keep things comfortable. Finally at the last mile and looking up at about 1000ft of switchbacks! The temps cooled down and it almost looked like it was going to rain...maybe this was our indian curse, getting rained on. Nope, we made it out right before the rain and cracked open some celebratory beers after 5.5hrs! YUM!!! We had dinner in the strange town of Seligman again before Cassel and Kim headed to some posh resort in Sedona while Jean and I headed to Flagstaff to get a hotel with a hot tub and pack up for a hike of Arizona's highest peak the following day.......Humphreys01.JPG (135853 bytes)
Early Monday morning after the complimentary hotel breakfast we were heading just north of Flagstaff to SnowBowl ski resort and the TH for Mt Humphrey's. It was only in the high 20's so we put on what we had and headed up the trail from the empty parking lot. Apparently this trail typically has hundreds of folks on it during summer w/ends, but not a soul in sight today! Perfect! The trail starts at 9,350ft and has big long and gently sloping switchbacks up to treeline. We were surprised to see so much downfall and dead trees around. Most of the trail through the forest was snow covered, despite the incredibly low snow year that northern AZ had this winter. Definitely no need for crampons or even snowshoes and we just crunched along long switchback after long switchback. After 2hrs and 15mins we were above treeline and at the saddle between Agassiz and Humphrey's. We took an eating break and headed along the ridge. There was only snow in a few small patches and not a problem at all. Even the three false summits weren't as bad as we figured and an hour after leaving to saddle we popped up Humphreys04.JPG (140841 bytes) on the highest point in Arizona at 12,633ft! WooHoo! What a piece of cake!!!! We snacked, took in the views, and tried to spot out the rims of the Grand Canyon. There was a bit of a cold breeze, but otherwise gorgeous weather! After lounging for a half hour we headed back down to the saddle. I got a case of "just cause its there" and headed over to Agassiz Peak while Jean stayed at the saddle. After a couple hundred vertical feet there was a big sign stating that the peak is closed and comes with a $500 fine if you try to hike it. Ooops. Being the law abiding citizen that I am, I turned around. *sigh* We started down the long gentle switchbacks that now had lots of mud on them from the melting snow and got back to the pea-sized car after 6hrs and 45mins total. While reaching into the trunk I slammed my head on the door and almost knocked myself silly!Humphreys08.JPG (132922 bytes) Luckily I just lost some skin and didn't bleed like a stuck pig, I guess that's what I get for making fun of the car so much?!?! D'oh! We still had a few hours to kill before our flight so we took the scenic route back to Phoenix through Oak Creek Canyon, had a stop at Slide Rock, and dinner in Sedona. I had no idea how similar to Moab Sedona is, so now we've gotta go back and explore there!!!! What an awesome time in AZ during this quick trip.....from 1,000ft elevation in Phoenix to the highest point, amazing waterfalls, fun backpacking, too much food, and WAY too many laughs and smiles. Puuurrrfect!!!

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