Havasu Falls in The Grand Canyon

The hike into the Grand Canyon to Havasu falls is a hard, 20 mile trek. It is very worth it.

Havasu Falls inside The Grand Canyon
Havasu Falls inside The Grand Canyon

 

It took me awhile to recover enough to write about the hike through the Grand Canyon to Havasu falls. I do a lot of hiking, and I run at the gym every morning. But nothing prepared me for the level of insane required to do this hike through the Havasupai Reservation. It was the hardest hike I have ever done. It was also the most worth it. Here’s how to do it:

 

Getting there is not half the fun. It’s about a 5 hour drive from Phoenix. The I-17 takes you to Flagstaff, where you meet the historic route 66 and take it to a tiny Highway known as the 18. Highway 18 is a barren stretch of road with no gas stations or rest stops, and a bad paving job, so be ready for that.

 

Highway 18 ends at a place the Havasupai tribe call “Hilltop.” There is really nothing there, so I guess that’s all you need to say. We got there around 3am and napped in the back of the Expedition before beginning the hike. If you want to be a pro about it, I recommend staying the night in Kingman so you can arrive refreshed instead of cramped from sleeping in a car. I’m on a budget myself, so a sleeping bag is the hight of luxury for me.

 

Carl and I heading down from Hilltop at 7am
Carl and I heading down from Hilltop at 7am

 

We left Hilltop and started down the switchbacks into the canyon at 7:30am. We told the lady at the top that we were doing a day hike, and she looked at us like we were crazy. She also told us we were getting a late start.

 

We each carried a gallon of water, trail mix, dried apricots, nuts, and beef jerky. Our packs were about 35 lbs each. We took no camping equipment, just food, water, swimsuits, and water shoes for the falls. Oh, and sunscreen. I can not stress enough how important the sunscreen is!

 

Walking through The Grand Canyon
Walking through The Grand Canyon

 

At the end of the switchbacks we started walking the canyon floor. At first, it’s really cool. There are all kinds of neat rocks and the sandstone is brilliant colors. But it’s 7 miles inside the canyon to get to Supai village, and I must admit, I got a little tired of dusty sandstone after all that walking. Also, the Havasupai drive their horses up the canyon in the morning, so the smell of manure gets really old too.

 

When you get to Supai you just want to keep walking. There aren’t any signs, but if you keep going, you get to the tourism office (on the left.) Pay them, or they will fine you when they catch you at the falls without passes. It’s $35, and it’s a steal considering what you are about to see.

 

Walking into the villiage, which is primative
Walking into the villiage, which is primative

 

There is a café (I use the term loosely) in the village. I had been warned against eating there because a group of hikers I spoke to claim to have gotten food poisoning. While I have a cast-iron stomach with no fear or parasites, I felt that a 20 mile round trip hike in 100 degree weather was hard enough without trying out new food. So no food reviews today. We passed up the café and went strait to the falls.

 

First you come upon Navajo Falls. This is a series of small waterfalls that flow into pools of clear turquoise water. They are beautiful in all the pictures I have seen, but they will never look as good as they do after you just walked 10 miles through a dusty canyon to get to them. Remember a bathing suit and water shoes! That is very important. And don’t forget to re-apply your sunscreen often.

 

The pools at Navajo Falls
The pools at Navajo Falls

 

Next up is Havasu Falls. We decided in advance that this is as far as we would go, since this was day hike. If you are willing to pack in a tent, you can go on further to the spectacular Moony Falls and Beaver Falls (both are featured over and over in Arizona Highways calendars.)  

 

Havasu Falls is less amazing than before the 2008 flood, because the pools below have washed away. However, the upper and lower falls are still just as amazing as they always were. The lower part of Havasu falls is a giant curtain of water which is all the more impressive because of the dry canyon that serves as its backdrop. My friend Carl said that it looks like something that belongs in Maui, not in the desert. I have to agree.

 

Carl in front of Havasu Falls
Carl in front of Havasu Falls

 

The upper falls are hard to get to, but it’s worth a little climbing and struggle. The many jets of water jutting over the edge of the cliff create a growing place for all kind of moss, which is a real treat for a desert dweller.

 

The upper part of the Falls
The upper part of the Falls

 

After some wadding around we turned around and headed back. The hike out is the same 10 miles as before, but in the later part of the day you use twice as much water. I am happy to say that the store in Supai sells water at reasonable prices. I am unhappy to say that the way it gets there is on the backs of pack-horses. If I could have carried two gallons of water in, I would have. I hate to think of what those poor horses go through every afternoon as they are herded back down the canyon laden with far too much weight.

 

The horses loaded down and crossing the stream
The horses loaded down and crossing the stream

 

The one plus on a day hike that I wouldn’t count on (but that we were grateful for) is that some of the horses throw their saddles. We ran across two horses which we had to save (one tangled in barb wire and one stuck dragging its saddle and load.) But there were bottles of water along the trail that had fallen off the horses, and it was like water from heaven. I tried to plan this hike on a cloudy day. I even picked a day where light showers were expected. But it was full sun all day, to my dismay. Water is so valuable at the bottom of the canyon in the full sun in August!

 

A few words of caution, because it is such a tough hike:

 -Please remember sunscreen.

-Please take lots of water- more than you think you will need.

-Please take lots of food. Nuts for long-term energy and fruit for a sugar-shake when you’re wearing out.

-Do NOT go on a day when heavy rain is expected. The canyon has flash floods.

-There are no medical services. Bring a first aid kit and do not be reckless like me and stop to help horses. I could have been kicked and died down there.

-Remember the reason to do this hike in August is so the cold Colorado river is refreshing, so make sure you bring water shoes and a swimsuit. If you’re not going to swim, you may as well hike it in December when it’s cooler out.

 

Me walking in the water
Me walking in the water

 

The most important thing I brought was Carl. He didn’t complain once, even though he must have been miserable. And his encouragement kept me going when I wanted to nap on my swimming towel and hike out in the morning. Also, I brought an MP3 player. This is the only way I made it up the switchbacks to the car. It’s a mile up, and after an all-day hike in the sun, you need a little music to help you get back out of the canyon. We made is out by 7pm, meanning we did the whole 20 miles (with rest at the falls) in 12 hours. Wow.

 

Carl reading the map. Bring a good freind!
Carl reading the map. Bring a good freind!

 

There is a helicopter that I am told you can make reservations with if you call far enough in advance. You need reservations for the camp ground too, and for the primitive lodge where you can stay. Another thing you can do is make reservations to ride a horse out in the morning (they are not carrying anything when they drive them up to be loaded with goods in the morning.)

 

I am sure all of these things make the trip easier. But Carl and I did the whole trip from Phoenix to Havasu Falls for about $100 each, including gas. So really, it’s all about your budget.

 

Me with niffty sandstone in the canyon
Me with niffty sandstone in the canyon

 

 

The hike we did was 20 miles. It was 100 degrees in the canyon on Aug. 26th. The cliffs are just as bad as you would imagine. But of all the rural and hard-to-get-to places in Arizona, Havasu Falls has to be the most worth it. The pictures are stunning, but being there is beyond cool. Happy hiking!

A really big hole

The best preserved and first proven meteor crater on earth is in Arizona. Just outside of Flagstaff you can get a taste of a piece of the stars…

The meteor crater museum
The meteor crater museum

 

 

One of the most impressive meteor craters in the world is in Arizona. It’s new by scientific standards (5,000 years old) and because Arizona has so little weather, it’s very well preserved. In some parts of the world a meteor could hit and it would just become a lake. But we have so little water, animals, and plants here that this crater looks almost like it did when it was formed.

 

The meteor crater is just a few minutes from Flagstaff. You take the 40 out of Flagstaff towards Winslow and it comes up on the right in about half an hour. You’ll see the signs.

 

Visitor's Center
Visitor's Center

 

 

The visitor center and museum is pretty cool. They have pictures and stats on every meteor impact of note anywhere on earth, and more than you could ever want to know about our own meteor crater.

 

This is about as close as you can get to outer space without actually leaving the planet. It’s pretty neat to realize you’re standing next to a rock that has travelled through space across all sorts of unknown and possible Star Trek-like stuff.

 

Not of this world
Not of this world

 

If you keep on going down the 40 you’ll get to the petrified forest. I didn’t keep going because I’ve been there… and it was not as cool as I hoped. It’s a lot of flat ground and not a tree for miles. There’s some rocks on the ground. I’d stop to see it if I was driving by, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

 

As for the meteor crater, it’s so close to Flagstaff that it’s a cool thing to do while you’re over there. Make it part of a day trip when you’re tired from hiking. It’s open until 7pm, so it’s easy to fit into a day up north.

 

The Hole
The Hole

Dan Tedesco at The Sail Inn in Tempe

The Sail Inn is a great spot, and Dan Tedesco is awesome live!

Dan Tedesco and band
Dan Tedesco and band

 

 I was supposed to be with my family Friday. But they ditched me, so I went to the Dan Tedesco show at The Sail Inn by myself last Friday. All I can say is; they’re sorry they missed it!

 The Sail Inn spent some time as Trax recently, before going back to being called The Sail Inn. While it was Trax, it underwent some very nice re-modeling and all of that is still there. There are plush couches, mirrored walls, and lots of nice places to chill. There are still two rooms inside and a big bar, and there is still a huge outside area with lots of tables and chairs.

 

Main Room
Main Room

 

In better weather, the show would have been on the outdoor stage. But of course, this is summer in Arizona. So the show was on the smaller stage inside. (Which was just fine for Dan and his band.)

 The Sail Inn filled up fast. The crowd was, as always, more diverse than at any other bar or venue I go to. There were people that looked barely 21, and people who looked like they could be grandparents. That has always been one of the nicest things about The Sail Inn. Anyone can go there and feel welcome. It’s not easy to find, and it’s literally on the “wrong side of the tracks” from Mill Avenue. But if you find your way to 1st Street and Farmer and you find The Sail Inn, you will feel welcome no matter who you are.

 

Lounge Area
Lounge Area

 

Dan Tedesco is a Chicago native who I met when he was attending ASU. At the time, he was a one-man-show. He had a lot of funny lyrics blended with uplifting rock n’ roll. After some time in Los Angeles and a pilgrimage back to Chicago, Dan has a whole band behind him now and a much bigger collection of songs.

 His songs are still infused with his quirky sense of humor, and they are still good old rock n’ roll. But the music has really filled out with the band behind him. It has room to become more complex, and more rich and enveloping.

 I have always had a hard time describing Dan’s style, because to me, it’s rock n. roll. But these days, people don’t believe in rock n’ roll anymore. They want to hear a complex genera description like “alternative-metal-rock” or something. I have explained other music as fusions of various genres. But in the case of Dan Tedesco, the music can’t be described as anything other than pure rock n’ roll.

Think vocals that are kind of like Tom Petty, but a little less stoned and more passionate; and then rock music with some Jimmy Hendricks-like guitar solos. That’s the best I can do. But you can hear it for yourself on Dan’s web site or on his Myspace, and in this case, that might be best.

 Overall, it was a good night. The Sail Inn is still a fun place to go, and Dan is still a great musician to go check out.

Isle of Essence at Copper State Tavern

Isle of Essence has a great new direction, and I found a new great songwriter named Robin Lore.

The bar from outside
The bar from outside

 

Copper State Tavern is on the north side of Bethany Home Road, just before the intersection of 51st Ave, Grand Ave, and Bethany Home Road (So don’t miss it, because then you’ll have to go though a six way intersection and turn around.) Drive into the parking lot slowly, because the speed bumps are huge.

 Unfortunately, there is no sign that says Copper State Tavern on the building. It’s the only building in the strip mall with neon, so you can spot it that way. The decor in minimal and classy southwest, and the tables are amazing (some kind of lacquered collage.)

 

Table Top
Table Top

 

It’s a little small place, and it’s packed when there are 40 people inside. There is a big screen TV above the bar, and when I took a picture of the crowd there was a fast food commercial on. So, check out the amazing hovering cheeseburger.

 

The bar packed
The bar packed

 

First on the stage was singer/songwriter Robin Lore. This woman has a beautiful voice and some very catchy tunes. I really enjoyed her, and you should check her out.

 

Robin Lore on state
Robin Lore on state

 

The band I was really there to see was Isle of Essence. I feel terrible that I haven’t seen them in a few years. And, since they were kicking off a national tour, I thought I’d better check them out again.

 

Isle of Essence
Isle of Essence

 

I remember Isle of Essence as a rock and roll band. I remember them as being good, but kind of raw. I was not at all prepared for what I saw at the Copper State Tavern. Isle of Essence has become a wonderful, jazzy, sort of funky rock band with a sophisticated and original sound. It’s not easy to put into words, but it really is a great sound. They’re still a lot of fun to see too. They really seem to have fun on stage.

 

The singer Jeremy
The singer Jeremy

 

Having recently signed a distribution deal, you should be able to find Isle of Essence in stores like Best Buy very soon. But they will still play local shows when they get back from their tour, so make sure to try and catch them.