I have to admit that these pieces were vastly superior to what I was planning to wear and both made this trip much more enjoyable.
We left Vegas at night and the ride to Kingman was really just a highway with dotted lines in the middle for scenery, but we did get a great night-time look at the Hoover Dam. We made a food stop in Boulder City at Jack In The Box for sliders.
When we approached Kingman, we also stopped at In-N-Out for some burgers and fries, animal style.
We stayed in two rooms at Motel 6 in Kingman. This was really a great hotel, very clean and right on Route 66 between In-N-Out and the Basha's grocery store we were hitting first thing in the morning.
By this time it was about midnight so we hit the hay.
We got up at 5:30 am, showered and out the door to get groceries. We had a loose plan of what food we needed, but we really made the final menu standing inside Basha's. After getting back to the hotel by 6:30 am we got everything packed up and were able to get on the road by 7:00 am.
We decided to stop for breakfast at the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs before hitting Indian Road 18. Lucky we did because that was the last chance for food until Supai. Expectations were low going in, but it turns out that the make the BEST breakfast steak and eggs ever. I'm talking about a proper 8oz steak, grilled to perfection. Great service and they really cater to hikers in that they prepare bag lunches for those making the trek to Supai.
Shortly we were on Indian Road 18 on the final stretch towards Hualapai Hilltop. We climbed up to over 5,000 feet of elevation through every type of weather possible.
It was very interesting to watch the helicopters take off and land. Apparently, a pair of choppers is brought in to transport people and supplies to Supai 4 days per week. We parked and loaded up for the hike into Supai.
The hike in was through sun, rain, hail, but mostly overcast sky. Lunch on the trail was pre-made turkey sandwiches and trail snacks. We had no idea what we were getting in to, but fortunately for us, each of us had brought something that the others had not to make the trip go smoothly. Bone was in charge of tunes, Sam had the garbage bags that we could use to keep our gear dry in the rain and hail, and Brian and I had the food.
I should mention that we each took our own gear by backpack on the way down. Brian had the newest and most technical backpack so he took the most weight at just about 40 lb. I was next around 35 lb, then Sam around 30 lb. None of us realized that Jon was carrying about 20 lb of sleeping bag, full queen size pillow, and full size towel until well into the trip.
We hit Supai in good time and paid $79 each for entry to the indian reservation and camping site fees for the two nights. The locals were very friendly and easy going. It turns out that Supai is the only place in the US that still receives its mail via donkey.
We got the final weather forecast and it looked like we were in the clear come morning, but had a wet night ahead of us.
On the way to camp we passed Navajo Falls and got our first look at Havasu Falls which at this time was, in our minds, what this trip was all about. We took a couple of pictures and proceeded down past the falls into the campgrounds. By this time our quads were burning from going downhill for 5+ hours and we just wanted to find a place to call home.
By the time we reached the far end of the campsite it was getting dark. Brian pulled out his 200 lumens Surefire flashlight so we could see the trail and get an idea of what campsites were available. The campground was relatively empty so we took a site on high ground, near the trail.
We set up camp in the rain. By this point in the day we were all miserable and starting to grate on each other's nerves. We were tired, we were hungry, we were wet, we were sore, and we had a lot of work to do before we could rest. There wasn't even a single place to sit without getting soaked through to the bone.
Jon and I started to do tent set up, but Sam needed help with erecting a tarp. What he had purchased was clearly labeled "tarp", but was not by any definition a tarp. It was a crappy, thin, hexagonal piece of plastic that ripped every time you touched it. I learned never to buy anything with the brand name "World Famous" ever again after trying to erect this piece of crap.
I gave up on Sam and left to setup the tent I had left getting soaked on the ground. Brian took my place on tarp detail. (What the hell is the point of a hexagonal tarp? This piece of garbage wouldn't even have been good enough for a groundsheet for a tent of exactly the same size)
At this point, Jon noticed that one of the other sites had a fire and suggested that we make our own fire to warm up a little. I pointed out that fires are banned in the campground at Havasu. He ignored me and started to collect firewood. One by one we all joined in on the search for firewood. It seemed like there had been quite a bit of damage to the trees around the area and it was very easy to find wood that, while soaked on the outside was really dry in the inside. Bone tried to start a fire but nothing was dry enough to start so he headed over to the other campsite and got another camper to bring us some coals to get us started.
The fire turned everything around. Despite the rain and cold, our moods lifted with a little warmth. We laughed about the shitty tarp, huddled around the fire and dried the bench of a nearby picnic table with our asses and warmed our feet. Brian broke out the 96% pure polish vodka that he had smuggled into his pack and, mixed with gatorade powder and the remaining water that we had, passed it around to the crew.
I made dinner of chicken fajitas while Bone made fresh guacamole. We wolfed down dinner and chilled out by the fire as the rain started to let up. The lesson learned by this point was that, when in doubt, fire, food, and polish vodka make everything better. We went to bed when the fire started to die down. It had to be well before 10:00pm which, for a bunch of guys from the EST zone, is pretty late.
Day 3 - Beaver Falls
My new sleeping bag definitely did the trick. The other guys were complaining about the -6 temperature over night but the Merlin -3C held up beautifully. Brian had the same bag as I did, but he couldn't figure out how to zip it up so he froze most of the night.
Sam and Bone got a fire started before Brian and I got up, and they were reprimanded by one of the locals almost immediately about breaking the "no fires" rule. Sam and I cooked breakfast of omelet breakfast sandwiches on toasted English muffins, accompanied by fruit.
We packed up our day packs, including the tools and supplies for a hot lunch and got started towards Mooney Falls. I took the big pack while Bone and Sam took the hydration packs and Brian went pack free.
We didn't realize it the night before because of the dark, but we were only 300 yards from the top of Mooney Falls.
The descent to the bottom of Mooney Falls was the most technical part of our trip so far. Vertical drop is 210 feet beginning with a few switchbacks, followed by a steep descent through caves and finishing with a rock climb aided by ladders and chains that are very slick at all times due to the mist coming off the waterfall.
We continued hiking to Beaver Falls. The trail became much more challenging the farther we went along, hence way fewer hikers.
I found a place where a small spring joins the main river over a small waterfall. I stripped down and had an impromptu shower. The water was amazing because the 19 degree heat of the sunny weather combined with the dark rock over which the spring ran made for a nice warm flow of water. I was able to walk right under the falls and into a 15 foot deep cave filled with the richest green vegetation. None of the other guys were up for a quick soak so I finished up and started to get dressed. That's when I realized that one of my shoes had been knocked into the river by one of my buddies. The rescue mission was easy, but I was left with a soaker. I was lucky that Sam had brought along some water shoes and I had a spare pair of socks so I could continue in pseudo comfort.
Water crossing became a pain in the ass because we could either take off our hiking boots or find a tricky way to cross using rocks or leaning trees combined with leaps of faith. Eventually, we found a rope swing that was a great place for a break, but decided to push on to have lunch near Beaver Falls.
At this point, we were overtaken by another group of hikers who were planning to hike all the way to the Colorado River. We took the high road, while they took the low road, but eventually they had to come up to where we were as the only viable trail.
At Beaver Falls, there was another group of hikers who had hoped to go to Colorado River, but gave up when they couldn't find the trail so they just stayed at Beaver Falls. Brian wasn't ready to get wet so he actually jumped the waterfall at the point where it was it's most powerful. I watched nervously, but couldn't help but record the video of it ... I debated: if he falls, how long do I keep recording before jumping in to help?