Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hike Down Hualapai/Havasu Canyons

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 – We woke up at The Caverns Campground at 5 am (we were awake, anyway….too excited to sleep in), had coffee and breakfast, and by 6am, loaded up, leaving the camper parked at the Caverns campsite.   

We were headed to Hualapai Hilltop…..1.5 hours north, through the Hualapai and Havasupai Reservations. The road was deserted at this time…. no cars, and nothing along side, no buildings or services. However, when we arrived at the trailhead parking, (7:30am), the lot was full!

We lucked out and found  a spot, hit the porta-potty, and, with a '”Are you ready?” We shouldered our backpacks and started hiking…..hoping that the training hikes at Lost Dutchman would pay off. Note – Our backpacks weighed 28 and 29 lbs. Certainly, not the lightest we have carried, but it felt ‘do-able’.

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The temperature was a brisk 25 degrees, we were glad to have a jacket, but knew that the temps at the bottom of the canyon were going to be warmer.


The view from the top was breathtaking in the morning light……


The trail descends 1,100 feet in the first 1.5 miles……rather steep….


With switchbacks through the Coconino Sandstone…..If you look closely, you can see the trail winding its way down through the middle of the ‘swirly’ rock formations.


The lighter streaks in this picture, middle left, are the various trails once you get to the floor of Hualapai  Canyon.


The trail surface was good…mostly gravel, or dirt, with railroad ties ……rather like the Bright Angel Trail at the National Park.  Oh, and LOTS of horse poop!


True to what the guide book said, at about 1.5 miles and a little over an hour of hiking, we were at the floor of Hualapai Canyon. I really don’t like steep down-hills……But, the descent was OK….Not too tough on knees and feet ……Only 6.5 more miles to the town of Supai -- and then, 2.5 more on to our campground!


The trail continues along the bed of this canyon another 5.5 miles ……and descending another 500 feet….before joining up with Havasu Canyon. We hiked on….feeling pretty strong.


The canyon was so amazing! We stopped to take pictures at every turn (and I took several of Fred hiking ahead of me!)


The rock formations were awesome…….and the day was just beautiful!

There were not many people on the trail…..several passed us going down, and by 10 am or so, more were passing us who were hiking up. Some hikers were just carrying a day pack – they were staying at the Lodge in Supai and did not need tents and sleeping bags, cook stoves and pots, etc.


As we walked, we were startled by the pack horses coming up…..

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These horses were driven from behind, not led, and they were not tied together…..


And they trotted! These were NOT the mule trains of Grand Canyon National park! When you hear the sound of hooves, you had better move over, fast!

The pack horses are the life-line to Supai village. People, mail and supplies (and tourists) come in and out of Supai by horse…..or on foot. There is also a helicopter service that flies several times a week.


We took picture after picture of the rock formations in this canyon…..


The smooth stone showing the effects of erosion…..


You could really picture this canyon hollowed out by the forces of water and wind.


The further into the canyon we walked, the more the vegetation changed to support the occasional tree…..I think this is a Cottonwood.


And Redbud trees in bloom!


We took a break under the shade of this large Cottonwood tree. The temperature had warmed… maybe  70 degrees.


About 1 mile outside of Supai…..water….tributaries drain 3,000 square miles of the Coconino Plateau….and eventually empty into the Colorado River. These tributaries, and the Havasu River are the reason Supai exists at the bottom of this canyon.

We were excited!…..we were almost to Supai…and still feeling good…..tired, but good.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Little Piece of ‘Times Gone By’

Monday, March 26, 2012 – We got an early start this morning, pulling out of the Good Sam Rally at 6am – did not have to wait in a line of RVs leaving….and the traffic out of Phoenix was not too bad. Our destination-- Grand Canyon Caverns RV park, just out of Peach Springs, AZ.

Grand Canyon Caverns are located along a section of historic Route 66…….


A wonderfully quiet change of pace…….


With a little bit of nostalgia…..


Does anyone remember Burma Shave?………


Arriving at the Caverns, we were tickled to find a very 1950’s atmosphere, along with a nice, clean and quite RV park.


After settling in, we took the cave tour….


These caverns are the largest dry caverns in the United States. They have most of the usual features of caves…..


And a few features that are a bit more unusual…..These caves are so dry that no animals…not even bacteria….can live in them. There have been a few unfortunate accidents where animals may have fallen in and died. The dry air mummified the Bob Cat on the left, who they believed fell in around 1850. On the right is a reconstructed model of a 4 toed tree sloth from the Ice Age. Its bones were found in the cave as it was excavated for the public. This sloth is 15 feet tall!


The Cavern Inn also has the world’s only (their claim) Cavern Suite.


Yes, you really can stay down there. After the last tour at 5pm, they serve you dinner, and you have to stay there until the first tour in the morning. And…yes, there is a bathroom.


Also, thanks to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963, all caverns were designated bomb shelters. Emergency rations were brought in and stored. Water is in the black barrels, food supplies in packages in front of them. There are enough rations (supposedly) for 2,000 people (the population of the area at the time) for 2 weeks. The supplies have never been refurnished….and it is too expensive to remove them…so there they sit…..stale water and food stuffs (actually, they only supplied crackers and hard candy)! Last year, with all the unrest in the world, the owners of the caverns brought down bottled water….just in case……


Oh my goodness…..after the crowds at the RV Rally……this place, where we are the only camper in the lot, is just what we needed. Peaceful, quaint, kitschy……and quiet. After the cave tour, we stopped by the cafĂ© for a piece of homemade coconut cream pie…..Yummy!

Back at our camper, we took some time to double check our backpacks and other gear. Tomorrow morning we will get an early start and drive to Hualapai Hilltop, the trailhead to the town of Supai, at the bottom of this section of the Grand Canyon. We will hike the 10 miles down on Tuesday, spending two nights at the campground, before hiking back out on Thursday. A long hike, but we have been told that the waterfalls in Havasu Canyon are well worth the effort. I promise lots of pictures…….   : )

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunscreen and Scooters

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 – We left Lost Dutchman State park and drove about an hour to the Phoenix International Raceway – the site for the Good Sam RV Rally.

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This was our first time to ever attend an RV Rally, and we did not really know what to expect……


We arrived at the Raceway, and lined up behind dozens and dozens of campers pulling in to park.


They managed to park everyone…pulling us in one after the other into this big parking lot. We had electricity (provided by long extension cords running from great big portable generators) but no water hook-ups.

I do not have a picture that can show the row after rows of campers that were parked here……campers of all kinds, but most of them were very large motor coaches. We were not the only Airstream, but there were not many of us. (Airstream has it’s own Rallies). All together, there were 3,300 rigs parked at this Rally! A note – our hiking GPS proved to be very useful the first evening……as we almost got lost in this sea of RVs heading back from the stadium!

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The RV Rally is like any convention – there are venders and exhibits…… A whole tent set up with everything that you could imagine for campers and RVs inside. We picked up several things for our camper, plus some really nifty repair tape for patching hoses, etc. in emergencies.


And outside……there were 500 RVs and motor coaches on display….and for sale!


We walked through a number of these… is fun to see how the ‘other half’ lives! And, they will make you a good deal if you are interested!    ; )

There were also seminars…..we attended several  - one on unique RV Caravanning destinations like Australia and New Zeeland, and some technical seminars on Tire Pressure Monitoring and Solar Panels for RVs. We also listened to a talk on RVing to Alaska, and realized that we, too, have a lot of experience and it reinforced that we are on the right track with our trip planning. It is interesting to hear all about others who are doing what we are doing……even if we all have our own style while traveling.


In the evenings, there was entertainment….the highlights were Bill Cosby…and Martina McBride……and a group who did Beatles music.Sarah and Jason joined us on Saturday and Sunday.  We all really enjoyed the concerts!

The concerts started at 7pm, lasted about 1 1/2 hrs,  but, much to our annoyance, at 8pm on the dot, some of the ‘old people’ in the crowd decided that they had had enough….and wanted to ‘beat the crowd’ to the trams back to the campers….so there would be a stream of people who just got up and left! Their Rock and Roll years were DEFINETLY behind them…….

This Rally was quite the experience…….we enjoyed many aspects of the rally, but, I found that I really did not like the crowds….not in the crowded ‘campground’ nor walking through the exhibits…..

And I am not sure what is meant by the RVing ‘lifestyle’…but I do not feel that this describes us…..Or maybe, we just have our own ‘style’ ……..

And I was struck that we were among the younger ones of this group. And I don’t think I like groups of just older people…..

As I write this….I am trying NOT  to look in a mirror……because, yes, I know that I am getting older, too….but I can’t help but be struck by how people age. As our bodies get older…. we have to deal with limitations. And we really have to fight against getting ‘narrow’ in our thinking and ‘stuck’ in an era. If we are not careful, we can become less tolerant…… It is a bit ‘scary’.

But, written on the faces of the people we met is a truth……Our bodies may be getting older, but, on the inside, we are all still that same young person we were ……grooving to the music of the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s….