Sunday, January 6, 2019

She Believed She Could So She Did

 How I Survived the Havasupi Hike

Early morning start
I was  nearly hanging by a thick chain standing on the edge of a cliff trying to pull my self up the canyon wall which went straight up into a cave.  This is where I was for a few scary minutes while trying to get my body up the wall to return to the trail from Mooney Falls.  My daughter and son went on down the trail to see Beaver Falls. I was with the rest of our group returning back to the camp site with my granddaughters and the other five, but I was the last one and had to make it up that rock wall to join the rest.

Isie with my father's camping stove Circa 1950

How in the world was I going to climb up? My legs were already tired from the 12 mile hike the day before. But let me start at the beginning. At 59 years-old I dared myself to join my daughter and her group going on the Havasu Canyon Hike to camp for two nights and three days to the bottom of the Grand Canyon along with the Native American HavaSupi Tribe who live there all year round.

An opening became available two weeks before the hike with the group so I had to do as much training as I could to be ready for this challenge.  Lucky for me I was still biking and walking but not like the others who had 6 months to train. I wasn't as limber as I used to be 20 years ago but I wanted to go.

Mooney Falls

Moses in front of Mooney Falls.

I learned to pack for hikes from 20 years experience of camping and hiking and was excited to take my father's old camping stove which was especially designed as a light weight stove for long hikes. We took light weight food and some extra snacks to share. We all ate well during this time and had the chance play games at night and talk. We brought enough water for our hike in as there was a fresh water stream down in the campsite that campers could use while there and filled our bottles and packs with water for the way back.

So the second day there--we climbed down to Mooney falls and I ended up hanging on the cliff at the hardest part convincing myself that I had to push myself up to get to the top. I just seemed stuck there looking down 20 feet and looking up 20 feet.  The hike along the way was fascinating as we passed by strange rock formations. The falls were beautiful and breath taking from the top but we all wanted to get to the bottom to swim and play. We brought our swim suits and towel, and snacks in our back packs. A few hours later, it was time to go back.

It was quite the feat to get down as the water falls created a mist which made the rocks very slippery and treacherous. Several chains were attached to the walls so we could hold on but now I had to get back up. It had to take some muscle power and positive thought that I could get myself up that wall. It took all my might, with both hands and feet to pull myself up and climb to the next level so I could get out.  Relief came with tears and my footing was secure as I made my way to the cave and then to the other side where the trail picked up. My group was still there and I joined them for a happy walk back to our camp site.

There are five water falls there in the area: HavaSupi Falls, Navajo, Mooney, Beaver and the Fifty foot falls. We passed by most of them except for Beaver Falls which is another 3 miles down from Mooney. The area of the falls was so beautiful. You never would have thought that a whole tribe of Natives would be living on the bottom of the Grand Canyon in such a green, beautiful, Shangrela area.

The mules with our packs on the way back

The whole camping experience on the Havasu Trail was a once in a life time experience for me.  A very challenging hike on the way back proved to myself that I can do hard things. With a 35 pound pack, I decided to let the mules carry it for me and just took water and some snacks for our 12 mile trek back mostly up hill. The last 2  miles were steep switch backs with little shade.  It was hot but we trudged on and made it back to the top.
 Truth be known, my son, Moses, helped my a lot by pushing me forward from behind when I slowed down. It helped challenge him more (as he said it was so easy for him) and it helped me get back up to the top. Otherwise, I might still be there walking up those switch backs. It was a once in a life time experience which I will never forget. Even better, it's a reminder to me that if I put my mind to something, I can do it. She believed that she could, so she did.

Top of the Grand Canyon-South Rim
Moses and I along the trail

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