So, we woke up early to mentally prepare for the process that was about to overtake our lives: registering for Havasu Falls passes! Registration opened February 1 at 9:00 am (CST) and this would be our first year attempting to obtain passes. We’d read posts about this being their third year to try and never succeeding. Or they picked 5 dates that they’d be willing to go, and still had to settle with a date not on their list. Or they were checking out and the site crashed or their bank denied the charge. Ahh, the nerves as we prepared to book our May 17-20 dates. On the phone together, I counted us down to 9:00am, then pressed refresh on the browser. Nothing happened. What? Is it working on your end? Nope. Refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh. Darnit! What’s going on? I logged into the Havasu Facebook group that I had joined the day before and saw that others were having trouble too. Sigh.
Luckily, while absentmindedly watching the ding ding ding of new posts by people who couldn’t register, I saw that someone posted it was working on mobile. YES! I pulled up the website on my phone and sure enough, it allowed me to input 5 people and 4 days before taking me to the calendar page. At this time, it was maybe 9:06 am. Yet, all of May, June, and July was gone. Most of April. I selected April 11-14 and proceeded to check out. Conferred with the other 4 if these dates would work (9:08 am), and they all text screamed, “TAKE IT!” (no, not really, but at that point, I was taking it whether they agreed or not).
I entered in all of my information, pressed submit, and received an "Internal error" message. Pressed again: "Internal error". Again: “internal error”. Ugh! What was going on? Tried a different credit card (in case my bank was rejecting the charge). That didn't work. Tried Amber's card. That didn't work. So…we lost the passes. Son of a donkey!
Amber and I proceeded over the next 20 minutes (may have been 5 minutes) to select dates and have the system tell us they were no longer available (we would continuously refresh the page and new dates would magically pop up (I assume as people lost their selected dates due to that aggravating “internal error”), but by the time our slow fingers would move the mouse to click the dates, someone else had already grabbed them).
But, have hope, because FINALLY! Amber selected March 20-24 and the dates were available! YES! So what if the weather may drop into the 30's at night? So what if the day temps won't reach above 60? We were going!! YES! Wahoo! Excitement overtakes!
Then began the thousands of texts to discuss the details. Where do we fly into (Phoenix or Vegas)? When do we arrive at the destination and at Hilltop? Do we rent a car or is there a shuttle? When do we fly home? Do we stay the weekend and jam-pack our schedule with more fun times? The flying into Vegas on Sunday was the easy part (yay Vegas). But what about afterwards? We’ll hike out on a Friday, so then have the weekend to play. Back to Vegas? Sedona? Phoenix? Oh the decisions!
Then someone mentioned the most important part…we had to start training. Immediately! With the plan to go in May, we would have had 105 days or 3.5 months to train. Now, we had 47 days. 47 days!! Hmm, maybe I should mention a little about why we need to train, eh? Havasu Falls is remotely located in the Grand Canyon, on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The only way to arrive at this village is by foot (our transportation of choice), mule/horse, or helicopter. No vehicles can make it down into the canyon, no ATV's, only the legs one was born with. With that being said, the distance from the parking lot where we stash our vehicle to Havasu Falls is 10 miles, with a decent of 2,400 ft (2,000 ft of which takes place over the first mile....side note: did the math and it’s like we’re descending 222 flights of stairs...oh boy! Feeling the ache in my knees already).
I don't think we'd have any issues walking the 10 miles. But when you add in a pack of 40+ lbs (did I forget to mention that we have to carry in everything we'll need: tents, sleeping bags/pads, clothes, food, shoes, etc.) and the decent (and ascent when we leave!), it adds a bit more exertion. Luckily, with us going in March, the desert temps SHOULD be better than if we chose June or July (although side note: the temp today in Supai was 78 degrees!! Oh yes! Yes, please. Please be warm.).
So, now you must be asking yourself, why did we choose to hike 10 miles, climbing down 222 flights, all while carrying 40+ pounds on our backs? Well, have you been looking at these photos of crystal blue/green waterfalls? These photos are of the five gorgeous falls on the Reservation (photos taken by bearfoottheory.com). If you still want more information about where we're going, check out their Havasu Falls Camping Guide
. SO much information.
Now that you understand why we're hiking the Grand Canyon and the physical challenges that await us, let's focus on training. We all started brainstorming: what should we do, how do we prepare? None of us five are in great hiking shape. So, the goal is to drop some weight, build muscle, and find some of that cardiovascular endurance we used to have...all in 47 days. Weeeeee! We can do it. Some of us will climb flights of stairs at work every hour, others will attend rowing classes. One strapped on a 50 lb pack and walked a few miles (he's a little sore today). The fifth won’t know if she can go until Feb 14 but will be hitting the exercise classes and softball games on the hope that her time off will be approved.
For me? Suffice it to say that after booking our passes, my car drove me to the gym. After warming up and stretching, I answered the call of the Stairmaster. Climbed 56 levels in 20 minutes and decided to move to the treadmill and start walking at an incline of 15. Feel the burn! Will progressively increase the times and eventually add a backpack and weight. Also, will increase my lifting days and start trail running (hoping for sunny days!).
And hey, positive: I’m already over 25% of the way to climbing those 222 flights…on Day 1! :)
Any other suggestions? I guess I will attempt to clean up the food and eat clean. Although, Super Bowl Sunday...sigh...day 4 and I already want a cheat day. hah.
Wish us luck!
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