Hiking Havasu has been on my to do list for years, if you've seen the picturesque views, it's probably on yours too. So, when it came time to plan our honeymoon, and my anxiety of flying overseas having so many littles at home meant Greece was a no go, I started my campaign for a monumental hiking trip. It took just one look at the falls, and me proving it wasn't photo-shopped for my husband to agree.
Neither of us are experienced hikers. Honestly, I'm almost positive this was both of our first actual hike. Go big or go home, right? So, we were definitely starting at square one.
We had all of the intentions of training at the gym and taking on some smaller hikes close to home, but, you know, life, three kids, and full-time jobs got in the way of that. At most, we walked with our family enough to break in our new hiking boots. A lot of what I read said Havasu isn't for beginners, and while I will admit I was sore as hell the two days following the trek in, we actually handled it pretty well. Maybe just a bit slower than those in better shape who more prepared physically.
My nerves set in instantly, lacing up my boots and throwing my new Deuter pack over my shoulders, strapping up. I was so nervous, my husband and I made a video of us talking to the kids, and sent it before we started our journey in.
We began our hike at Hualapai Hilltop, down a mile of steep switchbacks, followed by another eight miles of hiking the beautiful views of the southwest rim of the Grand Canyon, before reaching the village to check-in, taking in the simple living of the natives.
There was a small school, with an outdoor basketball court, kids playing around outside, and dozens of other tourists passing by on their way back. We stopped in to the little convenience store to grab a quick snack, and head in the last few miles to get to our camp site.
The hike to the falls from town was short, just another two miles, which may seem long, but after you have already done nine, it doesn't seem so bad. Instead of hiking on rock like the first nine, you go through a lot of clay colored sand before reaching the top of Havasu Falls, the first of the falls on your way down. Looking over the edge to the turquoise waters below is almost surreal, it is so amazingly beautiful, even pictures don’t do it justice. Just the site and slight mist of the falls made us want to rush down and check out the water instantly. We really couldn't be bothered to set up our site then come back, too much temptation!
We made it to the base of the fall and quickly threw off our hiking boots and wool socks, grabbed our Chalcos that we strategically hung from the outer straps of our packs for easy access, and hopped right in. Best decision ever! We just hopped right in, fully clothed. Thank god, because by the end of September (when we went), the water was already FREEZING, but worth every shiver and chill!
After a good hour or so in the water, we decided to finish the hike in to set up camp. It was the end of monsoon season, so we made a choice to stay closer to the trails to be on the safe side, but it definitely didn't mean there were a lack of views or access to the water. My husband set up our tent right along the bend of the river, with the most perfect trees to set up or hammock. We could swing right over the amazing turquoise water, and with a third tree not far, I could hang our line to dry out clothes.
With a quick change, and brief moment of relaxation, we had to keep going the final mile to reach Mooney Falls, the tallest of the whole bunch. Mooney Falls is a bit more tricky to take in fully, the only way to the base of the fall was wet, wooden ladder rungs, bolted into the canyon with chains hanging near by for you to grip. This was absolutely not happening for me. I took in the beautiful views of Mooney from the top, but I could not make the conscious decision to go down, knowing I can't even balance on flat ground, which meant making it the last bit down to Beaver Falls wouldn't happen either.
Looking back, maybe I should have at least tried. Heights aren't my strong suit, but we only live once, right? Regardless, I don't feel like I was cheated out of views whatsoever. There is no going wrong with the Havasu hike, but our next trip down, I will likely bite the bullet.
After a few days "roughing it" in paradise, it was time for us to pack up and head out. By this time, the lack of training had set in. My muscles, namely my legs, were pretty sore. I was moving quite a bit slower than our hike in. The two miles back to the village were practically at full incline, there were times I honestly felt like I was moving in slow motion. We pushed through and made it to the village. Before hiking in, we made the decision that we would helicopter out, as this was our HONEYMOON, we had a few more hikes and sites set up across AZ that we still wanted to do and enjoy, so we got in line with other hikers hoping to catch a flight out.
After a few hours in line, the village restaurant opened, and we were able to grab some coffee and bagel and egg sandwiches while we continued our wait. We even met another couple, from Denver, on their honeymoon as well! It took about 6 hours of waiting before we finally caught our flight back to the hilltop, taking in the last of the amazing views of the canyon on our way out.
As soon as we reached the top and got the car loaded up, on our way to Page, AZ, for the next adventure, we were already planning our next trip back to the falls. We both decided while we loved doing it together, it would be even more fun to have a group of friends along side us to join in.
Now, as parents of four, we have Havasu Round Two tentatively set for late summer 2019!
See you soon, Beaver Falls!