The first sentence of this post when I first drafted it was “I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July.” Soo… I guess it’s been a while. Still hope you had a good Fourth!
In the past month, some stuff happened. I left a job working at a gym and started a completely new job in a different city (remotely at first). Andrew wrapped up his job at Fox and passed the position along to an awesome, talented graphic designer who happens to be a good friend. Yay Meg :). Andrew and I organized our life into 56 boxes, one car, and two cat carriers and drove 341 miles to our new home in Campbell, CA. More on that later… because the last you heard from me, Andrew and I were about to head into the Grand Canyon on a camping trip, and I have got some pictures to share.
A month or so ago, Andrew and I embarked on a camping trip down inside the Grand Canyon. Scoping out the Grand Canyon from the upper ridge is one thing, but it’s an entirely difference experience from the inside.
You don’t realize how narrow the canyon walls get in some parts, or that there are some pretty spectacular water falls down there. The point is, if you’re going to camp in the Grand Canyon during the hottest part of the summer, at least choose Havasupai Falls.
Havasupai Falls is a massive waterfall and fresh water creek that runs through a fairly narrow cross-section of the Grand Canyon. The waterfall is responsible for a luscious, green habitat that feels like it shouldn’t exist anywhere near the desert. I remember hearing that some people call Havasupai Falls the “Hawaii of Arizona”.
Getting to Havasupai Falls is not easy. It’s a 10+ mile hike from the canyon’s upper rim to the campsite. Most hikers start the trek before sunrise in order to beat the brutal heat and direct sun. Andrew and I left a motel along Route 66 at 1am in order to start our hike at 4am in complete darkness. We used headlamps and hiking poles for the first couple of miles until the sun came up and the trail leveled out.
Miles 2 through 8 were no problem. The trail is wide and flat, and the tall walls of the canyon keep you shaded for most of the journey. The hardest part of the hike for us was toward the end, almost 5 hours later, when we neared Havasupai village.
Before you get to Havasupai Falls, you have to hike through Havasupai village, where the Havasupai people live. It’s hard to believe that anyone lives there year-round, but they do and ever since I met them, I’ve been trying not to complain about hot weather. The trek through Havasupai village is pure sand. And with the sun starting to come up…
It was so hot.
We finally made it to the campgrounds and claimed a spot a little after 9am. The picnic table we staked was just left (west) of a freshwater creek, offered plenty of shade, and was a little off the main path. It was great. Also hot.
The red rock walls of the canyon basically act as an oven. We hiked in with a small Nalgene bottle full of eggs deep inside our cooler to have for breakfast on day two, and they were legitimately scrambled by the time we unpacked at 9am.
By noon, there is simply no escaping the heat in the Grand Canyon, which makes it super convenient to have a waterfall right there. After breakfast and coffee, we would fill our backpacks with snacks and relocate to the falls.
Havasupai Falls is known for its bright blue-green water, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Havasupai literally means “blue-green water” which is very original of them.
Havasupai Falls is undeniably gorgeous, but even a massive waterfall can’t fully distract you from the severity of your surroundings. Being in the Grand Canyon in July was a questionable call on our part; we knew that going into it and were constantly aware of our priorities: water and shade.
“Camping hair” happens real fast.
The sunsets were unreal.
Let’s talk camping food. Camp food is fun because it’s sciencey, doesn’t taste terrible when you’re hungry, and the “kitchen tools” all have 35 uses and fit inside each other perfectly.
Throughout the day, Andrew and I would snack on trail mix and jerky. Our dinners were campy: Backpacker’s Pantry freeze-dried entrees such as Curry Chicken & Rice and Pad Thai (with actual peanuts). Both tasted great after a long day.
The hike out of the canyon was brutal. Unless you’re willing to wake up at 1am to start out, you are going to be reaching the hardest (and steepest) part of the climb after the sun has come up.
Below is what the trail head looks like, where you park your car and start the hike. Andrew and I saw it for the first time on day 4 when we got out of the canyon because it was 100% pitch black when we started the hike in.
I get thirsty just thinking about this trip again. It was definitely a once in a lifetime trip for Andrew and I, in that we probably won’t ever do it again, but it was a truly awesome experience and we loved it.