Saturday, May 03, 2008

Supai, AZ

As I've mentioned earlier, I went on a short trip a little while ago to the small town of Supai Arizona. I went with my parents and some neighbor friends of theirs (the Christensen's) and we had a great time. I flew down to Las Vegas late Tuesday evening and we had a short sleepover at my sister's house. We got up early Wednesday morning to make the long drive to the trailhead. Supai is the most remote town in the lower 48 states. There are no roads to Supai and all of their goods (including food, building materials, horse feed and toilet paper) are carried in by mule trains or helicopter. The city is 8 miles from the trailhead down inside of a side canyon of the Grand Canyon.
We hiked in with all of our gear on our backs. I was afraid that my knee would give me trouble so I wore a knee brace for most of the hike. It turned out that my body was okay with the torture that I was putting it through. The hike starts on a ledge high above the canyon floor. You hike down into the canyon and then most of the hike is down within a dry riverbed/canyon. When you first come to the small river that runs through Supai you are amazed by its beautiful blue color. Many of us commented that it looked like glacier water because it was so beautiful.
Walking into the town you are amazed by its simplicity. There are no paved roads and only a couple of golf cart or 4-wheeler-like vehicles. There are lots of horses and mules though. My parents splurged and had a couple of rooms reserved at the small (around 20 rooms) lodge in the town. Most people hike down another 2 miles to a campground between Havasu and Mooney Falls. It was so nice to have a bed and shower to come back to every night though, so I'm glad they had the room.

In the village there is a little store and cafe. We ate most of our meals at the cafe when it was open. All of the signs posted on the cafe simply didn't mean much. Some days the cafe opened 1 hour later than planned, other days it closed 30 minutes earlier than stated. It was a bit of hit and miss. Some days they had beef, tortillas or cheese, other days you just had to come up with something from their short menu that they could make. It was all part of the adventure.
The first full day that we were down there we hiked down to Havasu, Navajo, and Mooney Falls. We were planning on going further but my dad and I got sidetracked by a rope swing and ended up making our own fun (and can I just tell you how cold that water was? It was paralyzing). One of the cool parts about descending the canyon below Mooney Falls was the path down the cliffs surrounding the falls. There were a couple of tunnels that you had to descend through and for much of the route there is a chain that you've got to use as you climb down a makeshift path in the rocks. It was pretty freaky (my Mom said that it's the scariest thing she's ever done).
We had to make it back to the village each evening by 5:00 or we risked not being at the cafe in time for dinner. Luckily for us, while the hotel didn't have any televisions or telephones there was one computer in the lobby connected to a satellite internet provider. I was able to get on a couple of times and chat with Alison, which was wonderful. She has no idea how much I missed her and Ada.

On Friday we hiked back down to Havasu Falls and spent most of the day lying around on the grass next to the waterfall. We tried to swim behind the falls but the spray and the current were too strong (and I thought that the water was too cold to give it more than one good try). Everybody else did a little bit of cliff and rock jumping at Havasu Falls while I was saving myself for Navajo Falls (a little ways upstream from Havasu).
I had read on a number of websites that Havasu Canyon was probably what the Garden of Eden may have looked like. I thought that was a dramatic overstatement until I went there myself. It is easily one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been (and remember, I've been to every state and a number of other countries). It seemed like everywhere we hiked I had my camera out ready to take pictures because I wanted to be able to take a piece of the canyon home with me.

We left early Saturday morning for the hike out. I was not looking forward to this hike because it was uphill the whole way (and the last 1-1.5 miles was steep uphill, including switchbacks). I hiked with John and LeAnn (My parents had left around 80 minutes before us) and we made the hike in 2 hours 45 minutes. We got to the parking lot about the same time as my Mom. We all kept a pretty grueling pace. I guess I should point out that we sent out packs out on a mule so our loads were a little lighter. My Mom rode a horse down the canyon but was so sore and stiff from the ride that she decided to hike out.

We got out so early that we decided to make a little sidetrip to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. If you haven't heard about it, it's located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation (while Supai is on the Havasupai Indian Reservation) and it's a glass bottomed semicircular bridge that juts out over the Grand Canyon. It's extremely expensive and about an hour out of the way so we were expecting this place to be good. I'll be honest though, we were all sooooooo disappointed. It cost around $200 for three of us to go out on the skywalk and you can't even take your camera out there. They've got professional photographers there willing to take your picture and sell you a copy "on sale at 2 prints for $49.99!" I have never been somewhere that tried to nickel and dime you as much as this place did (far worse than Disneyland or the Gateway). They make it seem like the skywalk juts out so much farther than it does. It's not even on the main rim of the Grand Canyon. You're on a little side canyon (but you can see the Colorado way off to the left). It wasn't as impressive because you're not looking straight down to the bottom of the canyon. The bottom of the canyon is another few hundred feet out in front of you. To add insult to injury, they wouldn't even let me wear my hat out there. The nerve...
All in all it was a great trip. I highly recommend visiting Supai once in your life and I highly discourage ever visiting the Grand Canyon Skybridge. If you've ever been to the Grand Canyon before then you will be just as impressed as the skybridge could potentially make you - unless you're afraid of heights, then the skybridge would freak you out.


Sabrina said...

It looks amazing down there. I would love to go someday!

eMiLy sLaUgH said...

Looks like you all had a lot of fun! It is beautiful! Congratulations on finishing school!

Reynolds Family said...

Tyler its Tim. I was suprised to find your Blog from the Carr's. Don't worry I wont share the photos of you with out your shirt on at RMP.

Chris & Jenny & now Grant said...

$200?! All I've got to say about the Havasupie reservation is that I'd rather havasandwich. (I got that joke at scout camp last year. Good one, huh?)