We begin our last day of 4 with a “hearty” 🙄 breakfast and coffee as we discussed our plans. Temp is about 37 degrees. Temp at the rim is probably 25 but will rise to 45 or so by the time we arrive 5.5 hours later. Be sure to click on the scenic photos below, to expand and enjoy.
We break camp and pack up trying to get an early start on the 4 mile 3000 ft switchback hike pretty much straight up with snow the last 2.5 miles as you can see from the photo below. It appears daunting but doable.
A perennial stream, Garden Creek, cuts through Havasupai Gardens, which is great for soaking aching shins. But there’s an even more significant water source here—a pump house. (Photos below from the internet).
What is truly amazing is that this water travels thru a 16-mile pipeline from a natural spring about 3,500 feet below the North Rim, across the Colorado River and up to Havasupai Gardens. From there, it is pumped to the South Rim, without which there would be no water on the South Rim where a large portion of the 6 million who visited the park in flushed toilets, took showers and filled water bottles.
A little side note: we were told of the 6 million visitors annually, 1 percent or 60,000 walk at least a little ways below the rim. Of that, only 10% or 6,000 hike to the bottom. Wow. Pretty rare company I guess.
The first mile let us get warmed up for the switchbacks. Then the fun begins as much of the trail is shaded, a but muddy here and there AND, definitely icy. Some parts get sun but not much so we stopped in the one place for sun to take our major break. Glad we did.
Up the switchbacks we go. Not a lot to tell here. Huff Puff! The photos do the speaking.
I stopped several times to look around and take a snapshot of the view of the deep canyons
Eventually we made it,but didn’t get a photo right at the top of the trailhead right near Kolb Studios. We celebrated, then headed directly to the shuttle bus station, ready for a shower back at the the van….which we hoped survived the cold during our trek and it did so admirably. We had left the electric heater turned on low, the Truma water heater on Eco (42 degrees) and it survived the 25 degree nights with 40 degree days. YAY!
We did it!!! Not bad for a couple old farts approaching mid-70’s who hadn’t backpacked for almost 40 years. About 25 miles total in 4 days. 5000 feet down and 5000 feet up. 3 nights in a very small tent (ask us about it 🤣). We were ready to celebrate with a good meal at El Tovar Lodge with our companions. I will do a postmortem in a day or so for those interested. Suffice it to say we are glad we did it and tent camping is probably not in our future. All in all it was amazing and satisfying. Over a week later, we are still in recovery.
We want to thank our guides, Mandy and Kendrick for their patience, understanding, expertise and support along this journey. We couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you. Their website is https://www.mandyleaphoto.com/