Posted by: harleyhawk43 | May 25, 2017

The Great Grand Canyon Hike-Part One


© Hawk Hickok Hickman, 2008-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Hawk Hickok Hickman and harleyhawk43.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Go to

http://www.nstarsolutions.com/store/home.php?provider=harleyhawk

or to “Hawk’s Books” (www.facebook.com/harleyhawk1943) on Facebook, for details on ordering our 3 books on our travels, “Hawk and Red Fox-Modern Day Gypsies”, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, or text me at 617-605-6594. 

BookCoverImage 3 - Copy                                                   Book Cover Image for Gypsies Vol Three

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When last we entertained you here on this blog, we were preparing for the hike of a lifetime, one which we had both wanted to do for decades. But first a little explanation-

We had spent this past winter in Southern California, at an RV Park called Newport Dunes, situated right on the back bay in Newport Beach. We were there as a change of pace from our previous 6 winters on the road, spent mostly in Florida and then Arizona, and also to be near Red Fox’s two sons and two grandsons. We had a relaxing winter and were beginning to make plans for our return to the East Coast in mid-April, when we saw a post on Facebook regarding a little known Grand Canyon Hike. Our attention was immediately riveted on the post for two reasons; The stunning pictures and video clips and the fact that we had both been desirous of hiking the Grand Canyon for a long time. Additionally, the poster was a relative of Red Fox. We contacted him that day and got the name of the contact for what turned out to be guided, group hikes to a part of the canyon that many people are not aware of.

20170504_151616

I have inserted a typical scene of this part of the Canyon to pique your interest. It happens to be at the southwest side of the G.C. and is visited much less that the more well known south and north sides. To further add to the allure, it happens to be the permanent residence, for the last eight hundred years, of the Havasupai Tribe of Native Americans. You cannot hike there without getting a permit and only 300 new hikers are allowed in each day. To make this somewhat clearer, only 300 per day are allowed in, so if any camp overnight, they count for the next day as well. This means, essentially, that no new hikers are allowed in until some leave as they try to plan for only 300 in the canyon on any given day.20170505_121011

Havasupai means “People of the blue/green waters” and you can see why by looking at the picture above. There are at least six stupendous waterfalls in the canyon, all exhibiting the same beautiful blue/green coloring in the swimming pools at the bottom of each fall. The color is attributable to the limestone deposits that occur throughout the canyon. Today there are about 650 members of the tribe, with most adult members making a living by working in the tourist trade. More on that later.

We contacted the tour guide immediately and found out there were two slots still open. We wired him half the money that night and would pay the other half on our first practice hike that Saturday. We were very excited! I had wanted to do a G.C. hike since 1968 when I had attended Arizona State University for a graduate degree. Red Fox had been thinking about if for 30 years! Everything was falling into place. We knew we were destined to do this hike now. The Karma was there. We also knew we would probably never get another chance. Why? We were both in our 70s and although in great physical condition, we knew that could end any day and suddenly. Furthermore, this particular group hike originates in Orange County CA., which was exactly where we were camped!

Now we had to catch up with all the other hikers (44 of them) who had signed up months ago and had been practicing since January. We did four practice hikes during April (see our previous posts) and were judged as being ready for the hike by the leader, Bill Furey.20170408_113342

Now we had to go over all the supplies we needed, most of which would be carried up and down by mules. Fortunately, we already had some of the essentials; Pup tent, sleeping bags, air matresses, back packs, hiking boots, hiking poles, flashlights and chargers for our phone cameras and other cameras. The hiking group would supply all of our breakfast, lunch and dinner meals except for the breakfast and lunch on the first day, as we drove from Orange County CA to Hualapai Point in Arizona. Below, you see our motor coach and our hike leader, Bill Furey. We boarded the bus in Orange CA at 10:30 p.m. and drove approximately 6 hours to a McDonald’s in Kingman Az for breakfast. No one got much sleep. Then another two hours on squirrely roads to Hualapai Point, at the edge of the canyon and the trailhead.SAM_3480

Now, we formed up outside the bus as the sun began to rise! 6:30 A.M. at the edge of the G.C. and the beginning of 5 days of total mind blowing scenery and experiences, all the while bonding with the other 44 hikers. Our three thirty pound duffel bags were loaded on our mule and we hoisted our back packs onto our backs. I was carrying four days of lunches in my pack which meant about 25 pounds total (this would prove to nearly be my undoing before we covered the 12 mile distance to our campground).

After a short pre-hike talk and picture taking, our intrepid band began the 12 mile hike down into the canyon. Spirits were high in spite of the lack of sleep. We all sensed we were on a very special trip. After an hour of steep switchbacks, we reached more level ground and began hiking through some mesmerising scenery as we gradually continued downhill, towards the Havasupai Village. At the 5 mile mark we broke for lunch and a much needed (for me anyway) break.

After lunch we continued on, marveling at the scenery around us as the canyon walls became steeper. We could feel the shedding of all our usual worries and stresses and the gradual feeling of being in touch with “Mother Earth”. As we moved along my right knee began to act up from the weight of my pack and I fell behind. We had a “sweep” behind everyone, so there was no worry about my being forgotten. The sweep, whose name was Kyle, kept a close eye on me and was in radio contact with our leader. Our next stop would be at the Indian Village at the 10 mile mark. My knee was hurting more and more and about 1/2 mile before the village Kyle had to take my pack. I was limping badly even though I was leaning heavily on my hiking poles to take the weight off my knee.

Finally we reached the village where we took another blessed break and where the General Store had some delicious frozen Mango Bars. After the rest and Mango Bar, I took my pack back from Kyle, figuring I could make the final 2 miles to the campground.

My positive attitude lasted about 1 1/2 miles and then the miniscus began to cave again. Much to my chagrin, Kyle had to bail me out again. Oh, to be in my twenties again!. Finally we arrived at the campground after about 5 or 6 hours of hiking. The campground consists of scores of sites all located under cottonwood trees and mostly next to a stream or in close proximity. Red Fox was off to fine a prime site, but I had to just sit down and rest. She wanted to go a ways down the river away from the area where we would be gathering for meals, but I told her I could not muster the energy. We settled on a site about 1/4 mile away and I managed to wheelbarrow our three duffels from the mule drop-off area to the campsite. Red then did most of the setting up of the tent while I blew up the three air matresses. We just wanted to get set up before supper and nightfall. If you’ve ever been tent camping, you know that at this point we had no idea where most of our belongings were. Finally we were set up and headed down to supper.

After supper we went back to our tent, over which we had not placed our rain cover (no rain was predicted for our entire stay) and settled in for a night’s sleep in paradise. We were able to look up through the tent canopy and see a multitude of stars in a sky unmarred by any manmade light. We slept like two logs!

(To be continued)

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Go to

http://www.nstarsolutions.com/store/home.php?provider=harleyhawk

or to “Hawk’s Books” (www.facebook.com/harleyhawk1943) on Facebook, for details on ordering our 3 books on our travels, “Hawk and Red Fox-Modern Day Gypsies”, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, or text me at 617-605-6594. 

BookCoverImage 3 - Copy                                                   Book Cover Image for Gypsies Vol Three


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