Havasupai

Trailhead: Supai, AZ 
Length: 8 miles to the tourist office; 2 miles from tourist office to campsite
Elevation Gain: 2400 ft.
Difficulty: Strenuous due to the heat
Total time: 3-4 hrs
Dogs: No
Parking: There is a dirt lot at the trailhead, but do know that it’s packed and you may have to park fairly far down the highway. Also be aware of people double parking and blocking you in–that happened to one of our group members the first time she did it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You NEED a permit to hike Havasupai. There is no day hiking allowed. I keep getting messages from people saying “I’m gonna try to go next week!” and I’m like, “aww buddy… that’s not gonna happen.”

Permits open up on Feb 1 for each year and sell out within hours. You can get a permit by going to the website or calling in.  We were only able to get a permit for one night which meant we really had to work to make the most of our trip.

Here’s how it went.

We left Riverside after work on Wednesday and arrived at Hilltop at 2:30 a.m., ready to go. We stopped several times for bathroom breaks and made the unfortunate decision to stop in the McDonald’s in Needles for food, which was apparently overrun because the Jack in the Box had flooded.

As a result, McDonald’s was out of just about everything and my egg McMuffin came out cold.

Don’t do that. Take an extra hour and stop in Kingman instead. So many more options there. So many, many more.

Anyway, Needles is about 2 hours from the reservation. One thing I don’t remember anyone preparing me for was the drive in on the reservation in the dark. Animals roam free there and so the entire time we were dodging elk, deer, cows, coyotes, and bunnies that would dart in front of the car. It was like “Where’s Waldo” for spotting animals that would kill you if you didn’t find them before they ran into your vehicle.

After being terrorized by suicidal animals for an hour and a half, we were very happy to get out of the car and start hiking. Unfortunately we were told “Nah, bro” by the ranger and told we’d have to come back at 4 a.m. before we could go down.

Exhausted from the drive, we took a quick, uncomfortable nap and then started the 8 mile trek to the village.

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The hike is relatively flat with the exception of the first mile, which steadily declines and tries to murder you with sand and gravel (danger was a running theme this trip). On the way we saw a giant scorpion (more danger), the moon set, and the sun rise.

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We made it to the village at 6:45 a.m. and picked up the permits. This is where I noticed that my shoe had ripped. At the beginning of the trip. Awesome.

 

 

After buying a $10 roll of duct tape to fix the shoe which did not work AT ALL, we began the descent to the campsite which was another 2 miles down. On the way to the site we passed both Navajo Falls and Havasu falls but my back hurt from the pack, and the heat began to climb, and the lack of sleep made it hard for me to care much about any “dumb miracles of nature” because I just wanted to take my bag off.

We finally made it to the camp and set up our hammocks, and took a quick nap in the 105 degree heat. It was glorious.

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We chose to camp next to the river which felt great to dip the feet in due to the heat, which I am sure was sent from Satan himself. In the afternoon we decided to head over to Mooney Falls to cool down.

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Because I wanted to save my hiking shoes now that they had a hole, I decided to hike in my new Salomon water shoes which turned out to be a pretty solid plan because they were comfy and grippy.

The hike to Mooney isn’t far from the campsite, but the hike into the waterfall area is one of the sketchiest of sketch descents in the history of sketch. It’s like something out of the Goonies only you don’t have any of Data’s gadgets to save you, and you spend every moment envisioning your inevitable plummet to death.

To make matters better, there’s only one path up and one path down which is the perfect recipe for a traffic jam.

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The amount of people who could SEE us waiting at the middle trying to get down who then decided to go up so we couldn’t move was astounding. To those people, I would like to say: you suck.

We waited at the sketch part for 10 min before we decided to stop being polite and start getting real and elbow our way down.

While we were waiting at the crossroads I looked at @katierm1821 and said “NEVER AGAIN”

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Once we got there we went exploring, jumped off the rope swing and swam into a cave. I then looked at Katie and said “Ok, totally doing this again.”

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After a couple of hours we made our way back up sketchville and to the camp. We would have liked to hit Beaver Falls, since to get there you have to go through Mooney, but we were too tired and decided that needed to be saved for another trip.

While eating dinner the mosquitoes came out and were like “Oh, heyyyyy” so I pulled out the 98% DEET and still got four bites, one of which has turned into some weird red rash on my leg, so I’m not really sure what that’s about.

Even at 9:30 it was still hot as I lay in my hammock but I mananged to crash hard until I woke up two hours later FREEZING. Supai weather, make up your mind already.

Despite this, I woke up after an awesome night’s sleep in the hammock. I know you’re not going to believe this but I’m not being sarcastic. It’s true. Sometimes I AM sincere. Like only sometimes though. Anyway, it was actually great night’s sleep, and much needed if I was going to backpack 30 lbs through the canyon.

We decided to break up the trip back to the village by stopping at Havasu, Navajo, and 50ft falls.

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Havasu falls was super pretty with lots of fun pools where I managed to almost drown myself with the use of a floatie (danger!) because I really am just that special. We saw some guys taking some heavy duty tubes into the river leading away from the falls and found out that you can ride about 20 minutes down the river and get to camp. This was noted for our next trip.

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When then headed up to Navajo falls where we passed the frybread stand we tried to visit the night before only to find the packing up because it closed an hour early. This time they we found them unpacking their goods and were informed it would be an hour before they would open.

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Why do you hate us, frybread lady?!?

Next to Navajo Falls is 50ft falls. Most miss this place because it’s a little difficult to get to; it requires swimming through the reeds and waters unknown that probably have alligators or boa constrictors or the Lochness Monster waiting to kill you. Because of that there’s no one there and you have it all to yourself.

 

 

Uh… so definitely don’t go here, it’s too scary, and we didn’t go exploring and find a cool cave or anything like that at all. Just look at my pics instead of going yourself or telling anyone about it.

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From 50 Ft. Falls, we went to the lower part of Navajo where Katie played with rocks and found some cool fossils and I almost got swept downstream by a current I clearly underestimated (danger!).

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After a couple of hours there we made our way back to the village where we FINALLY got frybread because Keto diet be damned, am I right?!? I had a cell signal and was informed our AirBnB was canceled and we watched, bitterly, at the lucky bastards taking heli rides out of the canyon, knowing we’d be carrying our packs up the hill of death at the end.

I slipped my hole-y shoes on and we left the village around 6:20 and made our way back to Hilltop.

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Two of us arrived at Hilltop just after 9 p.m. We had the full intention of sleeping in the car, but when the other two arrived later we all laughed at that idea and at midnight drove an hour and a half through the reservation, dodging animals (danger!) and to a Motel 6 (danger!) full of tweakers (danger!) and someone else’s hair in the beds (oh, dear God, danger!)

The next morning we did as all travelers do after a long, arduous 48 hours… treated ourselves to #IHOB (Danger!)

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And that was it. Our whirlwind trip was over.

Here are some tips to prepare you if you’re planning on going:

Gear:
Water shoes:
I used these. They were light and I was able to walk from waterfall to waterfall without having to change. My only complaint is that they did allow sand to get into them so I had to rinse them out several times. Don’t cheap out on the water shoes. I know you can get a pair for $15 on Amazon, but you’ll be more comfortable if you make the investment, and it’ll give you incentives to go on more water hikes. Also, Solomon please feel free to sponsor me at any time.

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Backpack:
I used this one which was given to me by my roommate who is downsizing her backpacking gear. It served me well, but she’s about 6 inches shorter than I am, and the pack is an XS and about an inch too short for me. The first day was agony, but the second day I seemed to have it adjusted to where it was pretty comfortable and I was finally balanced.

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The best thing about this is that the water pouch is removable with straps and you can use it as a day pack. If you don’t have this option, I highly recommend bringing a smaller bag as a day pack so you don’t have to lug your giant backpack around.

 

Sleeping:
Three of us used a hammock and it was a good call due to the heat. I don’t think you need a specific hammock–any one will do. The campsite has tons of trees for hammocking. Don’t forget a mosquito net as well, otherwise you’ll be spending the night swatting bugs away from your face.

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I also used that down blanket from Costco everyone is in love with (and rightfully so) and borrowed my roommate’s Thermarest pillow which was so awesome I bought my own as soon as we got back.

Food:
I’m not much of an eater when hiking. I’ve actually trained myself to do long distance hikes without any food. I always bring food, but very rarely do I need it.

I had to eat on this trip. A lot. The heat just sucked out all the energy to function on the most basic level. Being on a ketogenic diet and vegetarian, my main staples were Joseph’s low carb pita bread with single servings of peanut butter and sugar free jelly, vegetarian beef jerky, and One Bars. Also, this coffee is awesome but super not low carb.

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I slightly over packed on food, but I cannot stress this enough: bring enough food. There is also a spigot at the campsite and the tourist office to fill up on water, and a store and cafe at the village for extra supplies.

Clothes:
I wore a wicking t-shirt and leggings on the way down and brought another t-shirt for the way up. I also brought a swimsuit, a pair of shorts, several pairs of socks/underwear. There isn’t much privacy to change into other clothing, especially if you don’t have a tent, so normal rules of hygiene don’t really apply.

Man, camping is seriously gross.

Also, after my recent trip to Mammoth where bugs were biting me through my clothes, I treated my clothing with this spray to avoid that happening gain and I *think* it worked, as everywhere I was bitten was exposed skin.

 

Also bring:
-Electrolytes (I had both salt tabs and Nuun tabs)
-Container for water besides your water bladder
-Cup for coffee (can also double as a bowl)
-Spork and knife
-Burner to heat water/food or two friends with burners (score)
Smell proof bag and to hang your food so the critters don’t get it.
-Towel
Cooling towel (don’t get the iCool ones from Walmart, they suck)
-Bug spray
-Sunscreen
-Sunglasses
-Hat
-Rope/paracords for hanging food and mosquito nets
-Grocery bags for trash

 

Some other notes:

Trash:
I read quite a bit of reviews talking about the trash in the village, and yes, there was some trash. But you know where the trashiest part was? The campsite. The campsite full of tourists. That trash was ours, not theirs. If you don’t want a trashy campsite, PACK IN PACK OUT. And if you see trash, pick it up and take it out. The previous campers left their trash at our site. Did we leave it and say not our problem? Nope, we took it out. Stop complaining and then doing nothing to solve the problem.

Pack Mules/Horses:
I’ve seen many posts on the state of the pack animals that the villagers use to charge tourists to carry up backpacks. Many have said that they are mistreated. Although I saw a few horses that looked awfully thin (they were not being ridden but were grazing at their stables), most of the animals I saw (with the exception of one that was bleeding from its pack) looked healthy and cared for. Two of the people on the trip that had been before also said that they looked much better than what they’d seen the year prior as well, so perhaps they’ve taken action on this.

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I don’t know enough about the issue to preach to anyone, either way. I’m not a vet and I’m not saying they’re in perfect health, and things may be happening that I haven’t seen. But maybe they’ve made progress. Regardless, I felt better carrying out my own pack.  But that’s me. Do your research, use your best judgement, and go with what your conscious allows.

 

That Hill: I’d heard everyone talk about how horrendous the last mile was on the way out and had been dreading it the entire time, but to be honest I’ve been up worse hills backpacking, like the first mile of San G, or Whitney. Going late in the day was a good plan–we were able to relax and enjoy the waterfalls on our second day there, eat at the cafe, and then go through the canyon as it got cooler. Most people you see will leave early in the morning, but you miss an entire day of waterfalls. It depends on how many nights you get and how much time you want to spend there. But the one thing I can say is don’t go during the middle of the day, because you’ll probably die. Probably. (Danger!)

 

Their Land: And finally, this should go without saying but apparently it needs to be said. This land belongs to the indigenous people of the Havasupai tribe.

ALL of the land in the US is land of indigenous people.

We are guests on their land. We need to respect them and be grateful they’ve given us the opportunity to see this place.

The night we were in Havasupai, a group of campers making the ah ah ah “Indian call” sound that even I, shamefully, made as a kid before I grew up and realized that it’s racist. Other tourists shouted at them to be quiet and one person shouted back “You’re not my dad!”

Ugh.

Stop being disrespectful. Treat people with kindness. Be respectful. BE GRATEFUL.

Really, why do I even have to type this out?

 

All in all Havasupai was an amazing time, even with the heat, the exhaustion, and the numerous, unidentifiable bug bites all over my legs. I am hoping I’ll be fortunate enough to do it again next year and perhaps make it to the confluence, which is now on my bucket list.

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Most importantly, the trip was with good people who supported one another down scary cliffs, monster infested waters, and tweaker motels. It was definitely a memorable time and despite my hesitation (see: terror) over the heat situation leading up to the trip, I am so, so glad I went. XOXO hike fam.

San Bernardino Peak

TrailheadSan Bernardino Peak Divide Trail, Angelus Oaks, CA 92305
Length: 17 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 4700 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced
Total time: 9 hrs
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Dirt lot at the trailhead that fills up quickly on weekends. I was able to navigate it in my Hyundai Elantra but I also scraped up the side of my car trying to avoid a large hole which is definitely going to help the resale value.

NOTE: Effective 9/1/17 permits are no longer subjected to a quota. You don’t need to acquire a permit in advance; however, they do ask you to fill out a self permit from the Mill Creek Ranger Station in Mentone. Be sure to bring a pen with you or you have to use your snake bite sharpie like I did which doesn’t work well on carbon copy paper. You can also fill out the permit via PDF, email it in, and print a copy for yourself.

 

San B is probably my favorite trail of the Socal Six Pack for no other reason than the elevation gain is pretty gentle. The bummer part is that it’s 17 miles.

This was the last of the Six Pack that I needed to do this year for my three-peat and I decided to summit solo. Even though I’ve done gazillions of solo summits, this one gave me a bit of the heebies to do alone due to the length of the trek and the fact that I was beginning in the early morning which, as we all know, is prime time for murderin’.

The first mile of the hike are arguably the hardest. You gain a lot of elevation quickly as you climb switchback after switchback. These are the switchbacks you’ll hate on your way back because they seem never ending.

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After the switchbacks, you’ll curve around the west side of the mountain and then begin heading east again. Soon you will come to one of my favorite parts of the trail, the manzanita forest:

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This part of the trail is relatively flat and enjoyable. Keep heading along the trail and you’ll end up at a three way fork in the road with a sign and a random rusty wheelbarrow. Follow the middle trail towards Limber Pine:

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After this sign, you’re going to hike and hike and hike through a little valley area and then up switchbacks to Limber Pine Campground which is apparently one of the best places to camp and see a sunset IN THE WORLD. Or at least in the San Bernardino Mountains. You do still need a permit for overnight stays.

You’ll then get to the next benchmark, which is, haha, a bench. Get it? I’m very clever.

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Limber Pine Bench offers the best view on the hike, and is where I would stop and eat lunch if I’d bothered to eat lunch on my hike.

After the bench you’ll encounter a few more switchbacks until you get to a fairly flat area where you’ll come to the Washington Monument.

It took the third time on this trail for me to actually see the Washington Monument. I always thought it was the pile of rocks with a plaque on the trail. Not so! It’s actually a bigger pile of rocks that used to be a cabin about 300 feet off the trail! I didn’t get a picture of it, but I did get a picture of this view, so there’s that:

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After the Washington Monument you’re on the last leg of the trip. The trail once again begins to climb and the very last .1 miles is very steep because apparently you haven’t done enough already.

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The peak itself is much less impressive than you’ll see at Limber Pine bench, but it’s got an ammo box, so you know, cool. And there’s a sign which was donated by @sdhiker which, if you’re solo hiking like I was, makes it super fun to try to take a picture with.

 

After you’ve rested, go ahead and head back from whence you came.

I’m going to be honest with you in saying that this is a long trek back. Like, WAY long. The last mile especially. It’s switchback after switchback. And if you hike it solo, you’ll be looking for ways to entertain yourself. Like I did when I composed this little ditty:

This is the trail that doesn’t end
Yes it goes on and on my friend
Some people started hiking it not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue hiking it forever just because
This is the trail that doesn’t end…

I ended up getting back to my car at about 1:30, p.m., making my summit just over 7 hours. However when I hike solo I take breaks for no more than 30 seconds and spent just over 10 minutes at the peak trying to take a selfie with the sign.  I’m not joking. It took me 10 minutes to take a selfie with the sign. So if you do plan to hike this one, I suggest you plan for 9 hours or more.

Additionally, with the end of the permit quota, this trail is going to be very busy on weekends. When I spoke with the ranger, he said that both San B and San G parking lots are full by 7:00 a.m., so either get there early, or even better, go on a weekday. I only saw three people on the trail the entire time I was there.

‘Cause when you’re hiking, the last thing you want is to see people, amiright? How dare others be out there hiking in nature? That’s MY thing!

 

Gem Lake from Mosquito Flats (Sierras)

Trailhead: Mosquito Flats
Length: 10 miles RT  (we added more by visiting Morgan Pass & Chickenfoot Lake)
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.
Difficulty: Advanced (only due to exposure & elevation)
Total time: 7 hrs for all
Dogs: Yes
Parking: Lots of parking at Mosquito Flats, but get there early.

Let me preface this by saying: YES I KNOW THIS ISN’T IN THE INLAND EMPIRE AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT MAKE YOUR OWN BLOG.

Great, now that we’ve got that out of the way.

I love the Sierras. I’ve been up there four times in the past year, which isn’t a lot except when you consider I’d never been prior to last August. My first experience was Kersarage Pass and Bishop Pass with Lazy Ass Hiking about a year ago. I was hooked after that… so hooked, in fact, that I’m still willing to camp to go there even though CAMPING IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD.

This time I went up with the Lazy Asses on Thursday where the first day we hiked in the Rock Creek Area to Third Lake. A beautiful trail that I may write about later.

The next day we headed out to the aptly named Mosquito Flats into Little Lakes Valley.

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Mosquito flats was gorgeous, but full of mosquitoes. I’d gotten bitten up pretty badly two days before at the hot springs we visited, so I was armed with bug spray and sun screen and was practically bathing in it hourly.

Anyway, after a quick orientation, we headed to the trail on the right to go into Little Lakes. When you have a group, only 15 people are allowed on the trail in each group, so we had to split into two. The trail quickly revealed itself to be incredibly scenic and beautiful.

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We passed several lakes along the way, including Hidden lake and long lake. There were also quite a few stream crossings.

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As we made our way up, there were some steeper parts of the trail, but nothing unmanageable. About 4 miles in we came to a post that used to have a sign on it (thanks, thieves of the Sierras!) and turned right. About a half of a mile from there, we came upon Gem Lake, and my was it purdy.

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After Gem lake, we made our way back down the trail and took a right at the post up to Morgan Pass. This was the steepest of the climbs at 600 feet, but because we were at elevation it was more like 1 million feet. There were also patches of snow on the trail which were slushy, and that’s always a good time when you didn’t bring microspikes or poles because you’re an idiot. #beprepared

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It was at Morgan Pass that I had a hard time and began to overheat from the exposure. While the climb isn’t particularly strenuous, two days of hiking trails at full exposure at high elevation was making my body go “WOAH LADY I AM NOT A MACHINE.”

I also *probably* shouldn’t have sat in the sun for an hour at Gem lake.  When I got to upper Morgan Lake, I crawled into what little shade I could find and worked to get my heart rate down. And to be honest, Morgan Lake wasn’t all that great looking in comparison to everything else and wasn’t really worth the detour.

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We then headed back down the trail and turned right at that now infamous post. About two miles in we made another right and headed to Chickenfoot Lake, where I sat in the sun some more because that’s always a solid plan when you’re dying.

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Some of the group jumped in the lake but I refrained because mosquitoes. A couple of the Lazy Asses pulled out inflatable rafts and floated around and made a lot of “dingy” jokes because every male I hang out with is perpetually 12 years old.

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After a bit there, we made our way back to Mosquito flats. The sun exposure was strong here and I just kept drinking fluids and cherishing any shade I could find. When we got back to the parking lot I sprayed, and sprayed again to avoid any more blood sucking incidents while we waited for the rest of the crew. On the way back we stopped off at Rock Creek where I took the best shower ever just to get out and spray myself with mosquito repellent again.

All in all this trek was worth the possibility of Zika (but probably not West Nile).  Hands down one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever seen. If you make the trek, you won’t regret it.

Just be sure to bring bug spray… not sure if I mentioned it, but there were a lot of mosquitoes there.