Sunday was a travel day. We left out hotel (and over half our luggage) in Camp Verde and headed to Flagstaff. We spent a little bit of time in the Historical area of Fort Verde. It is a very well persevered frontier fort from he 1860s to the 1890s. It is amazing how our perception of such forts has been developed by old movies and such. Things were actually much different – no stockades, no indian attacks, etc. I learned quite a bit about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Indians who helped our soldiers. There were several buildings still intact – Commanders Quarters, Married officer quarter, bachelor officer quarters, camp office and the Drs building. The surgeons tools made me wince! Over time, the rest of the buidings had been taken apart for the lumber to build other houses/buildings in the area. As there are no large trees in the area, the pine had to be brought in from the Flagstaff area – which for us is a one hour drive. I can only imagine how long and how hard it must have been to bring it by wagon.
From Fort Verde, we headed to Flagstaff. Our hotel was not ready for us, so we headed into Downtown Flagstaff to spend a few hours looking around. There is a visitors center in the train depot where you can obtain a map of the historic area for a self guided walk. It spoke of the buildings, how they were made, and what their original use was. There is a photo gallery in Flagstaff – the Shane Knight Gallery – that you should stop in to see. His pictures are absolutely gorgeous. I could only aspire to be half as good….
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to settle in. We had a little bit of time so we donned our hiking shoes and walked the nature trail behind the hotel – a quick 1.5 miles through the ponderosa pine forest. After our walk, we gathered our belongings and went to meet our guides for our upcoming adventure. The orientation session was about an hour. Our guides let us know what we should be expecting, what to pack for our mule bag and what we should be carrying with us. Never has my backpack felt so heavy! After our meeting, a quick dinner and off to bed. After all, we would be on the road at 6 am.
Monday: Monday dawned bright and early. As promised, the van picked us up at 6 am. The group included the eight of us, our two guides and a support hiker who would be with us for part of the day as our guided assessed our hiking. On our way, we stopped in Seligman, AZ for a bathroom break. This just happens to be where Mom and Dad own a little bit of property! Another hour and a half, and we were at our drop-off point. The road through the reservation ends a at high bluff where you can see for miles down the canyon. From up there, the trail down looked very steep and rocky. As we waited for our guides (who were getting things ready for the mules), we could see people hiking up and down the trail, and even a couple of mule trains arriving. I was quite excited to start our adventure! Finally, we were off. The first couple of miles was all down hill. Well, actually, the entire 10 miles was down hill, but the first couple were the steepest. We stopped often to keep the group together, to get out of the way of oncoming mules, to take pictures, for lunch and snacks, and to learn about the lay of the land. Dakshina and Avianna, our guides, were extremely knowledgable about all aspects of the land we were hiking in – the people, the history, the animal and plant life, the geology, and so much more. After the first couple of miles of steep downhill, the ground leveled a bit but we were hiking in a wash. A wash is the area that the water runs down, basically like a dry river bed. It is very stoney and is filled with loose gravel. Your feet sink into the sand and gravel, giving your legs quite a workout. About 6-7 miles in, we turned off the wash onto a better path that followed the Havasu river another 1-2 miles into Supai, the Indian village. The Havasu River is a beautiful blue-green color from the Calcium Carbonate in the water. We stopped at the village for a bathroom break, and for check-in. All visitors staying on the reservation must register. Then we continued following the Havasu river another 2 miles. Along the way, we saw a glimpse of 50 foot falls, and around Little Navajo Falls. This area of the river is actually a fairly new area. A couple of years ago, there was a huge flood that changed the lay of the land and the course of the river, creating Little Navajo Falls. We continued on to our first glimpse of Havasu Falls.
The roar of the falls greats you before you can even see it. As we were walking downhill, our first sight of the falls was from a higher vantage point. Our guides left us at this point to go set up camp, giving us time to take in the Falls. We eventually hiked down to the foot of the falls and just sat there and marveled. We hiked another 1/4 of a mile into camp and found our guides unpacking. We all pitched in and set up our tents and got dinner started. We found that it gets dark very quickly in the canyon – about 6pm at night, and it wouldn’t get light until about 630 in the morning. The sun set below the canyon walls as we were eating and we all found ourselves going to bed very early that night.
- Devil’s Bridge
- Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls