Autumn on Mount Major

Mount Major in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee is known for the view at the top and it does not disappoint. This easy 3.8 mi hike to the top of a 1,785 ft mountain is worth the trip no matter your skill level. The hike itself has as easy gradual incline at the beginning and picks up a little more toward the top but I would never consider it steep.

A few friends and I decided to check it out during the fall 2017 to see some foliage. While there was not a large variety of foliage along the hike when closer to the tree line there was more color. At this point some of my friends decided to play in the trees.

Once you reach the summit the view in one direction is mountains with beautiful fall foliage and the other direction is the lake. When continuing on the looped trail it can be a little confusing to find where it continues, you do have to go past the old lookout spot and find the trail on the other side.

Mount Major

1,785 ft mountain
3.8 mi loop hike
1,148 ft elevation gain
dog friendly

Couple at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

While in San Diego in May 2017 Alexis and I decided to visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for some beautiful coastal scenery and to take a few photos of ourselves as well. It took us a while to find our way there, one of the roads had been closed and we had to drive in a large circle to get to the park but it was worth it! Upon first arriving it was a very cloudy day but the sky cleared up and made for some beautiful photos.

Torrey Pines for me was just one of those places; where it’s hard to stop taking photos because everything is breathtakingly beautiful and creates a space for this feeling of calm, peace, and contentment. I wish we had spent more time here but we had to get to Balboa Park and see the dinosaurs before the Museum of Natural History closed so we did about 1.5 miles in 1-1.5 hours.

Torrey Pines is named so for the endangered Torrey Pines that are common throughout this protected landscape. We found an endless amount of lizards running around in the area during our visit.

I used a trigger release and my trip to take photos of Alexis and I anticipating a beautiful location (you can kind of see me clicking the release in some photos).

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd,
La Jolla, CA (near San Diego)

Trail Map
2,000 acres
No dogs, smoking, food, or drones allowed

Antelope Canyon slot canyon walls in Arizona

Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Bryce Canyon in a Day

On Saturday we woke up in Zion National Park and packed up our campsite to head to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Bryce Canyon National Park. We had a tight schedule to keep and lots of driving to do. Antelope Canyon is back in Arizona and there is a time change so we planned accordingly and get to leave a little later.

Antelope Canyon

To visit Antelope Canyon you have to schedule a tour ahead of time, especially if you want one of the prime times. Antelope Canyon is made up of two parts upper Antelope Canyon and lower. Upper is where you may get to see the famous light beams. Most website will forewarn you it is a very popular tourist destination, crowded, and you will be moved through fairly quickly by your guides. We used Adventurous Antelope Canyon tours, getting a good guide has less to do with the company per say than it does with luck and we got lucky. Our guide was not there to rush us, even when pushed to by others, they all help set camera settings but he also showed us his favorite angles for photos and took our pictures for us. Lower Antelope Canyon is said to be less crowded, as are many of the other slot canyons in the area, if that is the experience you are look for go to a different canyon. That said Antelope Canyon is as beautiful as the famous photos we’ve all seen.

A side note, I did NOT do one of the photography tours. They do not allow guests who do not have professional cameras and I was visiting with my fiance. Those on the photography tour were given more time and the area was cleared to help them get the shots but once they set up the guides counted down from 30 I believe or lower and they only had those seconds to shoot before moving on.

We did briefly catch a light beam on the way out. The guides take you through slowly on the way through and let you take photos, on the way out you are supposed to experience the canyon without taking photos, which also helps move you out of the way of others. These are the only photos I got where you can kid of see the light beam, the photographers were stopped in this area and shooting.

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend Arizona

Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell are very close to Antelope Canyon so we did the short hike to Horseshoe Bend afterwards before deciding to drive to Bryce Canyon (back in Utah and with a time change again).

Horseshoe Bend is a very crowded location and out in the hot sun, they warn you to bring water and you should! It is such a strange formation and way for the water to have moved we took some time exploring here but not too long since we had more driving and a time change ahead of us.

Along the way we saw a small dinosaur museum off the highway and decided to stop. It was full of an assortment of dinosaur foot prints from Utah, some fossils, native artifacts, and a rock collection.

Fossilized animal
Dinosaur food prints

We made it to Bryce Canyon around 4:30 pm and checked out Sunrise point and then Sunset point. We tried the short hike Navajo loop there only to find half of it was closed from rock fall and have to turn around.

These strange sandstone formations are called the hoodoos, they were created by and are changed each year from the spires freezing and then thawing. Melting snow gets into the cracks in the spires and freezes at night, when water freezes it expands which enlarges then cracks making them wider.

After this we headed back towards California with San Diego as our next destination. In California we did much more relaxing and visiting friends but I will have a few more photos!

The Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Just to note, I would never recommend spending so little time at all these locations and so much time traveling in one day but sometimes a road trip calls for it! I can’t wait to get back and get to spend more time in this part of the country.

My boyfriend proposing to me at the top of Angels Fall Landing trail in Zion National Park

A Day in Zion National Park hiking Angels Fall Landing

For our second day in Zion National Park we tried to wake up early and start Angels Fall Landing in the morning, but it was a cold morning and we slept in a bit. Heading out we followed a path with beautiful views to the second bus stop on the shuttle. We picked up the shuttle and headed back to the fourth stop from the previous day. We had turned left to go toward Emerald Pools and today we were turning right to head towards Angels Fall landing. Angels Fall Landing is about a 5 mile hike round trip, it is not a loop, you hike up and back down the same trail.

We got stopped early in our hike by a ranger who was mapping out the area and waited a few minutes to continue up.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Angel’s Fall Landing its a scary hike, you need to have good balance and not be too afraid of heights (you’ll see why below). At least hundreds of people a day if not more hike the trail. The beginning is just switch backs up the mountain and fairly easy. It is paved though so it’s harder on your calves!

Eventually you hit this area closer to the end of the “easy” part with shorter switchbacks that are a bit steeper and the sandstone has been made to look like bricks. Once you reach the top of this area you are at the beginning of the real nerve wracking and challenging part of this hike.

There are signs along the way warning you not to do this trail if your balance is off, you are scared of heights, have the right shoes, and so on. They also let you know that 7 people have died in the last 9 years on this trail, 15 since the trail opened. Until this year (2017) it had been 5 years since a death. The trail has had a reputation as one of the deadliest in the world but each year people flock to the trail. They do really try warn you off with the signs and warnings on the bus rides. The trail is on sandstone with cliffs on one or both sides of you the rest of the way up. There are people passing you in both directions and you often have to pause to let others pass, even while holding on to chains or in the way of others. Over the years they’ve added more chains and carved the stone more to help with footing.

The “hump” looking edge of that mountain is part of the trail (after we’d already done some of the trail). From what I had seen before taking this trail I was pleasantly surprised that there was often only a cliff on one side of you, I had expect cliffs on both sides of you the entire way. I’ll admit I have a mild fear of heights so when planning out this hike I knew I might turn around at some point.

Towards the peak of the trail where you would turn around and head back there are cliffs on both sides of you. Right before this point I stopped to rest under a random tree here and psych myself up for doing the end of the trail. Being so close and seeing the trail was a bit wider than I’d expected I pushed myself through to the end.

It’s at this point that my boyfriend proposed. He had clearly been trying to decide where to propose all day, so thinking this was a big accomplishment and a beautiful location he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

This hike is both not as hard as you imagine and just as hard. If you plan on doing it have the right gear, a healthy dose of fear but not too much, and good balance. The hardest part is often just the sheer number of people on the trail, be courteous and I suggest start the trail early before it gets too hot!

Bridge over the Virgin River in Zion National Park Utah on the trail to Emerald Pools

A Late Afternoon in Zion National Park

When heading to Zion National Park we didn’t have camping reservations but we were lucky enough to have friends also going. They left Vegas before us and waited in line forever to get a campsite which we were lucky to join. The National Park campgrounds fill up fast!

We left Vegas a bit later in the day and got to Zion in time to visit the Visitor’s Center, set up camp, and do one of the shorter trails.

We took the shuttle down to the fourth stop where the trail to Emerald Pools began, you can also get off at the 3rd stop but that trail to lower Emerald Pools was closed due to rock fall. This version of the trail is about 3 miles if you do lower, middle, and upper Emerald Pools.

On our way up the trail we had beautiful views of the Virgin River and the canyon. The Virgin river is very small but it has carved it’s way through the entire canyon and still removes tons of debris each year. We ran into our friends Rachel and Chad who we were camping with on their way down from the trail and said hello but continued on.

A bit further along we ran into a woman who quickly shushed us and directed us to look up off the trail a bit. There we could see a mule deer. Mule deer are very common at Zion and not too afraid of humans. On the bus we had seen them next to the edge of the road as well. Continuing on the trail we visited lowers pools, then middle, then upper and hiked back down the same trail.

Zion has a highway running through it and it’s gates are open all night because of this. After our hike we decided to check out the small town we had passed on the way in. Outside the park you will find a bunch of cute stores for souvenirs, a grocery store for food to cook over the fire, restaurants, and hotels. It’s a really cute area and made it even more fun to stay here since there was a variety of things to do at night.

Campground dog sleeping outside or tent all night at the Havasupai Reservation

Backpacking out of Havasupai

Saying goodbye is never easy. We found the experience no different when leaving the campground at Havasupai. We rose early to pack our things and begin backpacking out of the canyon before temperatures rose. I found Kumkuat (the honorary name we had given one of the dogs who live here) sleeping outside our tent where he had apparently been all night. Not enjoying our packing he kept trying to distract me lying on top of the tent as I broken it down trying to get me to pet him. He visited everyone while they packed trying to distract them until as we were finishing up he left.

Not eager to leave but concerned about backpacking in the full heat of the sun we set out by 6:30am for the village. The two miles to the village uphill in full sunlight with the packs weighing us down was not an auspicious start to our journey, even though it was cooler this time. We stopped for a short rest on the trail and one last viewing of Havasu Falls, here we were greeted by four sleepy dogs who had chosen the path way as their bed. They took a liking to Alexis became his companions, following him as far as the village. Before we continued on a mule train passed us along the way heading down to pick up their load.

Our last sighting of the Havasupai falls and cascades along the way was a sad and it felt like a final goodbye. As we left this otherworldly place and headed on we knew more adventures were ahead of us but that what we left behind would be sorely missed.

We all struggled through the first two miles of the hike at different paces. Meeting up again at the same village area where we had checked in. A few of our group had stopped to inquire about having mules carry the bags out, but they require 24 hour notice. The general store had frozen Gatorades, other drinks, snacks, and ice cream so we all grabbed a cold treat and continued our trek.

The rest of our journey was a struggle for most of us. Carrying our heavy packs back up out of the canyon. What is easy to forget with the excitement of the journey to Havasu Falls is how the entire path there is either slightly or significantly down hill, and more often than not involved walking on sand or little stones which makes for challenging footing. Leaving as well as having to hike uphill this time had our spirits down a bit. We often split up all moving at our own paces and stopping frequently.

When we started the final ascent, 1.5 miles uphill with switch backs, at this point in midday sun, despite it all we were relieved to be able to see the finish line. We passed frequent travelers and mule trails on this part of the trail.

After our long hike out of the canyon we grabbed snacks from a woman selling chips, candy, drinks, and hot dogs at the top then began the drive to Las Vegas, NV. Vegas was just a stop in our journey to rent a hotel, shower, and eat some real food. Then we would continue on to Zion National Park in Utah.

Lower Navajo Falls on the Havasupai Reservation

A Day at Havasu Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, and New Navajo Falls

For our last full day at the Havasupai Reservation we decided not to plan out our day but let it take us where it would. There are many other trails in the area but we wanted more time to enjoy our stay without rushing to try to see everything. In the morning Rachel, Myle, and I set out to explore the two falls we had seen while hiking into the campground.

First we had breakfast with the group at our campsite. The Havasu Creek ran on both sides of our site and we had beautiful views. A small wooden plank lead us across the Creek on one side and on the other we had a picnic table in the water.

Fifty Foot Falls

Then we hiked up, a bit later than was ideal given the sun and heat, toward the first falls we had seen on our hike in, passing Havasu Falls along the way. In many photos you can see the stunning travertine formations all along Havasu Creek.

A major storm a few years ago changed the waterfalls. Two old waterfalls dried and two new waterfalls were made. This includes Fifty Foot Falls and New Navajo Falls (the first you pass on your way down or last you pass on your way out).

New Navajo Falls

After spending a chunk of time photographing and enjoying Fifty Foot Falls we moved on to New Navajo Falls. These falls appear split in two, the middle doesn’t have any water flowing over the travertine formations any longer.

Here I decided to experiment with a quick conceptual photo. We ended up timing our visit to this falls with a group who was watching their friend propose at the same location. My friend Myle was kind enough to model for me and then I also jumped in a took a few with myself as the model.

Havasu Falls and the Sweat Lodge

On the way back towards the campsite we found the guys hanging out by Havasu Falls. We took a quick group photo but were missing Rachel. She had wandered off by herself towards the village and ended up metting back up with us at Havasu Falls. She had been invited to a spiritual ceremony by one of the locals. We all decided to check it out and headed back up towards the Reservation.

Here Roland Manakaja explained a bit about the reservation and the sweat lodge ceremony to us. They invited us each in groups to sit in the sweat lodge for 10-20 minutes; they don’t keep track of time. During this time you are supposed to sweat out all sickness, they sing healing songs in their native tongue. They only sing four refrains, too many is considered asking too much. They also told stories and explained their stories of coming to this location, being invited by god to kill the first buffalo and how to use it well, loosing the animal tongues, and such. They ended by singing more songs of harvest and the sun and moon. Traditionally they would repeat this experience four days in a row, they now usually do it four times in a row the same day. We all took a turn once, thanked them, and headed back to camp for dinner.

Beaver Falls cascades on the Havasupai Reservation

A Day Hiking Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls

On our second day at the Havasupai Reservation we planned to do both Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls. We all woke up at a regular hour and ate breakfast. Some had MRE’s of eggs and bacon using a backpacking stove and pot, others had peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, etc. We were quickly joined in the morning by our new dog friend Dusty and another camp dog we decided to call Kumquat. Kumquat got his name because Josh had carried a bag of the fruit in the canyon with him. We all tried it with various reactions, most considering it a strange fruit to chose to carry choice (except I liked it).

Mooney Falls

When hiking down to the campsite from the reservation you pass Havasu Falls, the campground sites then run along Havasu Creek between Havasu and Mooney Falls. To get to Mooney Falls you follow the campground trails to the end and have your first view of the falls from above. The hike is anywhere from a few hundred feet to 3/4 of a mile depending on where you camped. (Note: there are no bathrooms outside the campground)

To get down to the bottom of the falls involves climbs through some old tunnels and down several ladders with chains to help you. It’s a bit of a challenging descent and the later in the day you go people will be traveling both directions and it takes longer to get there.

The view from below looking up the ladders shows you a bit of this descent. The old ladder on the right shows you how this climb would have been even more rickety in the past.

Mooney Falls is the tallest of the 5 major waterfalls on the Havasupai reservation at a 200 ft drop. You could spend an entire day here swimming or hanging in a hammock.

Hiking Havasu Creek to Beaver Falls

We spent a bit of time here but were eager to see Beaver Falls which is about a 3 mile hike from Mooney. The path began up to the left by where we had descended. Marking for the trails don’t exist, they are obvious paths but at times split leading to view points or other areas which can be confusing. The trail to Beaver Falls follows the Havasu Creek much of the way and crosses it 3 times, water shoes proved very useful for these parts if you had good ones.

The trail itself is so beautiful it’s hard not to stop frequently to take photos, enjoy a quiet moment, or a bite to eat.

We stopped for a group photo when we found this small cave in the canyon walls. Here we found a picnic table and began to wonder how picnic tables had been set up along the trail when the descent from Mooney is the only place to begin. We later found out, when speaking to some tribe members, that during flooding some had been moved from their original locations and others taken down by boat.

Here I also paused to take photos of the cascades which are so numerous along the trail. As the water in Havasu Creek flows it deposits minerals with create the travertine rock formations that are so common here, these formations become visible as floods change the stream bed.

From here we crossed the creek again, but this time by pieces of wood and careful stepping instead of wading through.

At one point you enter a sea of green on the canyon floor,  you can’t even see the path from above just little heads of people on the trail.

Sometimes you are traveling directly next to the creek, sometimes above the creek, and yet other times crossing over it on wooden planks or wading through. Experiencing the changing environment from different altitudes was awe inspiring. Information about Havasu online will often feature the waterfalls but the journey between these two falls is like nothing else.

Beaver Falls

When we finally reached Beaver Falls, after climbing up rocks and all kinds of ladders we had to climb down a few more to reach the lowest tier of this cascading waterfall. You can swim in all the tiers and find other cascades and tree and plant life around it as well.

While at Beaver Falls we met a ranger from the reservation who checked group bracelets and made sure everyone left the area by 4:30, because of the 3 miles hike back to Mooney Falls where you then have to climb the ladders they want you back with plenty of time before sunset. He shared one story of an injured self proclaimed avid hiker with us:

There is a trail along the canyon wall called the Mesa trail, to get to this trail or get off this trail at Beaver Falls there is a rope to help you down. This woman, either wishing to jump in the water or tired from her hike had decided to let go of the rope. She fell and badly broke her leg. Due to poor weather the helicopter couldn’t get there and she was forced to wait by the falls with a ranger and one friend until the next day to be airlifted out. Each time they have to use the helicopter to bring someone to the hospital it costs the reservation a minimum of $10,000.

While at Beaver Falls the wile squirrels got into our bags to steal trail mix.

Heading Back to Camp

Heading back to Mooney Falls on the trail we eventually realize we must have missed a creek crossing (possibly the one I mentioned before). This doesn’t turn out to be a problem we are just following a different way back. We cross at different points in the Creek and see different parts of it which is fun. A few parts of this trail were a little more over grown but it was easy to follow. We ended up in what we came to believe was Ghost Canyon right before returning to Mooney.

The trail up from here was climbing up some sand stone which is a bit challenging. If my fitbit was correct though this way back was a bit shorter.

We didn’t stop for long once we reached Mooney Falls but quickly ascended the ladders and cave tunnels. Back at the campsite we all began to get comfortable when someone noticed a snake. Not sure what kind it was we made sure it exited our area before making dinner. Later we found out it was a common Kingsnake that will actually eat rattlesnakes.

Havasu Falls in afternoon light after our long backpacking hike to Havasupai Reservation

Backpacking into Havasupai Reservation

May 14th the real trek began, the one we had been planning so long for. I could write an entire post about our planning and preparation, and find many others online so for now I’ll just start at the beginning of our day.

We rose early, cold in our cars having gotten maybe two hours of sleep. Havasupai hilltop is a 3-3:30 hour drive from the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance and we didn’t leave until after dinner the night before. We quickly began dressing for the day and more slowly repacking our bags so they had 3 liters of water and everything else we needed.

As we got ourselves together the sun began to come up over the canyon walls, a few dogs trotted over to visit us, and a lone horse passed us by. We made a quick stop at the restrooms at hilltop, a fellow backpacker took a group photo of us with our packs on, and then we began the 10 mile journey to the Havasu Falls campground.

Left to Right standing: Myle, Rachel, Margaret (me!), Alexis (my fiance), Kevin, EJ, Logan.
Kneeling: Josh

Group photo before back packing from Havasupai Hill Top to the Havasu Falls campground

I’ll say this now, no matter how prepared you are and how much you practice, unless you are experienced at back packing your bag will likely be heavier than it should be! All our packs were definitely heavier than they should have been, Josh’s may have even been 70lbs! He decided to carry fresh produce we all found out later (I would recommend dehydrated produce only).

It is 7.5-8 miles until you hit the beginning of the Native American Reservation, Havasupai, itself. Then another 2-2.5 miles to the actual campground and whatever amount it takes you to find your campsite. [My fitbit listed 15.75 miles for the day, 38,200 steps total. 10 miles and 24,400 steps being the journey with our packs on]

The beginning of the trail is downhill, 1.5 miles of switch backs to get to the canyon floor. At this point in the journey everyone is together, spirits high, still a bit cold but beginning to shed layers, and excited to reach our destination.

In one of the photos if you look closely on the canyon ridge on the right you can see a little rectangular shape that is at top of the hilltop parking area.

While still on the switch backs, Josh finds the lower half skeleton jaw from a large animal in the remains of an old foundation and poses with it.

Once off the switch backs, at this point mostly on flat land, we see the breath of the Canyon. Being surrounded by red rocks, short green plants, and cactus is a unique experience when my daily life usually consists of large green trees that tower over me and grey rock.

The occasional desert flower, from weeds, wild flowers, and cactus caught my eye as a bit of color in a vast sea of sandy reds and desert greens.

If you research Havasu Falls online you will find many beautiful photos of the 5 major waterfalls but not as many about the journey. I wanted to share more images of the unique landscape that is a huge part of the experience of backpacking the trail to the final destination.

I can’t quite pinpoint in photos where our group split up a bit, but around this point we finished shedding our layers as it was warm out and applying sunscreen. It was our first stop of many along the way, taken so early out of necessity for sunscreen more than rest. Sometime after this the group split up into those walking more quickly and those more leisurely. EJ and I took the lead, choosing to deal with the distance and weight on our backs with speed walking. Each time we stopped we’d wait for the entire group to catch up and then continue.

Along the way we also ran into many other travelers. Backpackers coming into and leaving the canyon, we even ran into two stragglers from one group who were tailing behind because one of them women was hiking with a broken toe! There were also many horse and mule trains carrying belongings to and from the hilltop. We had decided not to use these trains after reading some less favorable reviews about their care and to give ourselves the full backpacking experience. (If you do go on this trip and wish to use the mules you do need a reservation in advance!)

As you might see in some of these photos, the trail is often made up of walking on sand, beds of little rocks, and sand stone. It makes for difficult footing causing the backpacking trek to be even more challenging.

Despite what you may assume there is actually a decent amount of shade in the canyon but I highly recommend starting this hike early to avoid the heat of midday, especially later in the summer!

Once you start to see signs for the village you feel a bit of relief knowing you are close. A bit after the first sign you also see the unbelievably clear blue water Havasupai is famous for. Havasupai actually translates roughly to “The people of the blue-green waters.”

Continuing on through this strangely forested area after the start canyon you reach the village and see the helicopter running trips from the village to the hilltop (the helicopter is sometimes available for rides out of the canyon). You also reach the first opportunity to purchase food or some supplies from the village store. Frozen Gatorades were the most popular.

Walking through the village to the office to check in, we encountered many horses and dogs. We quickly checked in giving our parties name, all receiving bracelets listing how large our group was and the dates of our reservation. In this area there is another small general store and place to purchase food. From here we had read we had two miles left in our journey but the trail was mostly sand for that time. Expecting this challenge we took a short break before heading out again.

Our hiking groups broke up again into those eager to get a good campsite and those walking at a more leisurely pace. This part of the trail was the most challenging walking in sand that was not compact with the heat of the sun beating down on us.

Catching sight of the crystal clear blue water again, falling in tiers, then turning around to view the first two waterfalls stopped us in our tracks for a moment (These falls are New Navajo Falls and Fifty Foot Falls).

You know you are genuinely minutes from the campground when you get your first awe inspiring view of Havasu Falls from above.

We paused to soak it in and realize we had made it. But then we continued on eager to get the packs off our backs. Upon entering the campground (which is first come first serve) we ran into other campers who told us to keep going better campsites were further in.

We did drop our things at the first site we found, having a camp dog join us. We quickly named him Dusty and he hung out with me and our things while part of the group wandered to find a better campsite.

After setting up the campsite and finding the rest of our group we eventually headed back over to Havasu Falls. Here we took some photos, relaxed, eventually got in the water (cold since it was May). Returning to our campsite once we were hungry and trying our MRE’s and new equipment for the first time.

Group photo at the Grand Canyon South Rim at Trail View Overlook

A Short Visit to the Grand Canyon

I will have many upcoming blog posts and photos from a long trip I took during the month of May with my boyfriend Alexis (fiance now, but more on that later) and other friends as well. The trip included visiting four states (CA, AZ, NV, UT), three national parks (Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon), even more canyons (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend), and natural reserves (Torrey Pines), as well as several major cities (Las Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego). Here I’m just starting at the beginning — planning the trip and the first official day.

For over a year Alexis and I had been planning a trip focused around visiting Havasu Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the Grand Canyon. Visiting Havasu Falls and the other falls on the Havasupai reservation requires much advanced planning and luck. There is no day hiking allowed, the campground has about 300 reservation spots and is very popular. You have to hike 10 miles in the desert into the canyon. You either carry your gear or hire a horse/mule to carry your things. Knowing all this we began preparing for our trip long before we booked it.

Reservations become available for the year starting on February 1st. That day we, along with many others, began the long process of calling the Native American reservation trying to reserve spots for the dates we wanted. Being flooded with so many calls at once while living in the middle of an isolated canyon you get the dial tone almost every time you call. After several of us spending days calling non-stop , almost giving up and beginning to plan a different trip, we became some of the lucky ones who got through and secured our group spots for the dates we wanted! Excited to actually be able to go on the trip we had dreamed (and already booked flights for!) we began planning in earnest. There is so much to see in that area I packed in as much as I could pretty close together.

Saturday May 13th, half of our group headed out together from LA to drive to the Grand Canyon South Rim. Seeing as Havasuapi is so close to the Grand Canyon I didn’t want to miss it… even if we had limited time. We finally made it to the Grand Canyon late in the afternoon 3-3:30 pm. We started at the visitor center and made a plan with the help of the rangers. We first walked up to the Overlook point just behind the visitor center, Mather Point. We had arrived so we were all eager to actually see the Grand Canyon!

We then took the blue line shuttle bus to the red line shuttle bus. Several points along the red line bus are known for being good for viewing sunset. Since we had arrived so late that seemed an ideal part to visit. We got off at each stop and only ended up doing the first four. We started at Trail View Overlook.

We took some fun group photos (missing a few who wandered off or showed up later) while exclaiming over winding switch backs you can see going into the garden trail down in the Canyon. Given more time we would have enjoyed hiking more of the Grand Canyon. Give our time constraints we made sure to hit both Maricopa Point Overlook and Powell Point Overlook before we ended at Hopi Point for sunset.

The breath of the Grand Canyon is spectacular to see, but we didn’t have much time or a chance to hike. I don’t think we had the full experience but I’m glad we stopped to see it. I would recommend trying to set aside more time to see the Grand Canyon depending on the experience you want.

The lighting on the canyon walls as the sunset created a radiant foggy glow.