Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservation

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ClintSnakeman
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Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservation

Post by ClintSnakeman » March 27th, 2014, 7:31 am

My wife and daughter are hiking down, about 10 miles, into the Grand Canyon. I was the chosen one to get them in shape for the trek. Just found out, I'm going with them (for five days of their two week trip). Way too cool. Have any of you hiked this trail before? We will be there in early June and I expect to see some cool herps. Looking for hiking info or experiences from herpers.

Jimi
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Jimi » March 27th, 2014, 4:35 pm

I have not walked into Supai but have heard it's no cakewalk. I strongly recommend reading the book "Death in Grand Canyon", particularly attending to the debilitating cognitive impacts of dehydration and heat exposure. That is a sunny and hot time of year anywhere in the canyon. Especially in the bottom.

Take care, and have a great time!
Jimi

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gbin
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by gbin » March 28th, 2014, 10:05 am

I hope to do that hike myself someday, and I hope y'all have a great time!

Jimi's caution and my repeating of it are probably both unnecessary, but I'll chime in, anyway: Physical preparation, proper clothing and supplies and a clear plan are all very important for Grand Canyon hikes. A former colleague of mine used to hike different trails there pretty much every year, and he always said that the most important thing his experience had taught him was that it's easy to do too little and impossible to do too much by way of getting in shape before such hikes. The more ready you are the safer you'll be and the more fun you'll have.

Gerry

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Badgerberling
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Badgerberling » March 28th, 2014, 2:32 pm

Our son got lost at night in the Grand Canyon on a Boy Scout trip. His is one of the most harrowing tales I ever want to here. He hiked back to camp after midnight cold and barefoot. Luckily no permanent damage, but we're not sure he learned anything. He still rarely wears a bike helmet in graduate school.

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Rancorrye
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Rancorrye » March 28th, 2014, 5:15 pm

I did this hike a few years ago. By far my favorite backpacking trip to date. It is unbelievably gorgeous down there. Just make sure you know what you are getting into if you don't do much desert hiking. The first majority of the hike there is not an available water source near by and there is a lot of exposed wash walking. So dehydration and heat exhaustion are definitely something to be aware of. They are killers; especially that time of year. It will be blazing hot. I think I went in March or April. It wasn't too bad in the canyon bottom, but I remember the hike in and out was already getting pretty hot at that time of year.

As far as herps go, I wasn't really into herping at the time so I can't help much on that. Just remember a bunch of lizards running around. Didn't see any snakes, but then again I didn't look.

Good luck and I'm sure you will have a blast. Definitely well worth the hike. I hope to do it again one of these days.

Rye

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Biker Dave
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Biker Dave » March 31st, 2014, 8:33 am

I've never been on that trail, but from my experience hiking the desert I have one word ...Water... we're talking a couple gallons (per person)to get down there at least. You'd be amazed how quickly you will get dehydrated walking in the desert. I would suggest heading out on the trail prior to sunrise to maximize the coolest portion of the day.

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dery
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by dery » March 31st, 2014, 9:53 am

ClintSnakeman wrote:My wife and daughter are hiking down, about 10 miles, into the Grand Canyon. I was the chosen one to get them in shape for the trek. Just found out, I'm going with them (for five days of their two week trip). Way too cool. Have any of you hiked this trail before? We will be there in early June and I expect to see some cool herps. Looking for hiking info or experiences from herpers.
Can you post your results and possibly the Native reservation if the Havasupai there allow it? Sounds like a great trip. P.S., I hear you shouldn't flip during the summer in the dessert. One of the AZ Chapter members can verify that. :thumb:

Sam Dery

Matt Cage
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Matt Cage » March 31st, 2014, 1:01 pm

I've done that hike twice. As others have said, bring lots of water. You lose elevation very quickly from the parking area most of the hike is low and hot. You spend about 2/3 of the hike away from any water. You should see lots of lizards of a few different species. The only snake I have seen is a Pituophis. On the hike out, remember the last 2 miles is a killer! Camping in the canyon is beautiful and hot (heat radiates off of the cliffs). The bats and beautiful water are worth the hike. You will have a great time.

Jimi
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Jimi » March 31st, 2014, 2:11 pm

Since everyone's chimed in about HOT! and WATER!, I'll repeat my specific warning. Debilitating. Cognitive. Impacts. When human beings get hot and dehydrated they get unbelievably stupid. Your brain just does not work when it's overheated. You get overheated when you aren't consuming enough water and it's hot out. There's a story in that book I mentioned - a harrowing survival epic, not a death tale, thankfully - about what was supposed to be a nice simple dayhike on that very trail. Basically this girl spent a very thirsty couple days and nights stumbling around the vicinity of the trail, as if she had an IQ of 8 or so (yes, 8, not 80). Which at that point, she actually did.

Besides your brain, the rest of your body also doesn't perform so well when it's hot. Especially if you have not prepared your body for the heat. So - any and all preparatory physical conditioning (in the heat!) that you can manage will do you some good. Work off any excess weight you're packing around (call it a 2-fer). Stop smoking, whatever. But - also adjust your expectations. Like, instead of miles per hour, think hours per mile, and then pad it some more. For example, plan to finish your up-hike by 1030 AM or so...because realistically, you might still go over, and you DO NOT want to be out there at 3-4 PM. Don't plan optimistically (e.g. "averaging 2 miles per hour") to hit the car at 1, and still be a couple thousand feet below the rim (and 8 long miles from the river) at that time.

Biker Dave nailed it - on departure day, don't let the sun rise on you still messing with your gear. You need to already be a couple miles on your way - better yet about halfway - to the car. Set your watch alarm (I've started some hikes as early as 3:30 AM). Drink like a camel before you set out, departing with lots of water in your belly and your pack. Stop and drink by the clock, not by the way your mouth feels. Make it your goal to arrive at the car with almost no water (except the water you left for yourself at the car!)

Take care, and take this "stroll" seriously, and you will have a great time. Even though it's gonna be hotter than hell.

cheers,
Jimi

PS whoever mentioned the Boy Scouts - jeez what is it with those guys? There are so many BSA horror stories. A number from Grand Canyon, involving heat exhaustion and death. It's really weird. A lot of folks in Utah can tell such tales 1st- and 2nd-hand.

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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by narrowfellow » April 1st, 2014, 7:50 am

It's a great hike and gorgeous spot, although some of the campsites are (or used to be) over-used and dusty as all hell. You'll burn a lot of camera card memory just on waterfalls and travertine. The trail is wide and obvious - bring enough water and a big hat and you should be fine.
There are some good-looking speckled rattlers in that part of the canyon, some of them as pink as a good abyssus. Very pretty classic Cal kings if you're lucky. Go out at night for banded geckos and a chance at cruising snakes. Probably not worth flipping rocks after April or so. Pick up a copy of Brennan and Holycross for an idea of what species to expect.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Biker Dave » April 1st, 2014, 5:20 pm

Jimi has it right. And remember, caffeinated drinks are NOT hydrating! They will sap the water out of you. No coffee or soda (and especially avoid those lame ass Energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster) on the trail. Stick to cool, not ice cold water. Believe it or not, ice cold water on a hot day can mess you up as much as no water!

If you are not needing to urinate at least once every two hours you are dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Like Jimi said, drink by the clock, not your thirst.

I know it all sounds scary, you should take this very seriously, as dehydration rescues happen nearly everyday on the mountain trails in the city parks around Phoenix because people unfamiliar with summer temps and summer hiking go out on these big hikes with only a single 8 oz bottle of water thinking they will be ok all day. When they awake from their helicopter rescue off the mountain in the intensive care unit they find out how wrong they were.

Respect the heat, plan well, execute your plan, and have fun.

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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by RenoBart » April 4th, 2014, 9:43 am

I think everyone is on the right track here. I have no personal experience with the GC, but I have friends who have done it and can attest to the debilitating nature of the hike, the heat, and the dehydration. One guy in their group had to be just about carried out because of heat exhaustion and subsequent delirium while my buddy blew out his knee with all the repeated downhill hiking on the harsh terrain. Be prepared, be in the right shape, and have fun.

Bart

Brian Eagar
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by Brian Eagar » April 4th, 2014, 11:57 am

Me and some family did the hike some 15 years ago.
I wasn't as into herps then but had fun chasing the many whiptails and scelops in the area. Horned lizards were easily found on the plateu where you park.
I think they were short-horned but wasn't really paying attention at the time.
There was some kind of Rana frog in the creek and I remember finding one that was trampled by a horse outside of one of the natives houses and being yelled at about not touching it by someone inside the house as I was stooped down trying to investigate it. "Don't touch my frog, that's my frog. Did you kill my frog" was what the obviously intoxicated resident had to say. I didn't stay around to argue. Just remember you are on an Indian reservation and some tribes can be very territorial with their wildlife.
Make sure and bring your own water purifier. I brought mine but got lazy a few times and drank water from the "purified" spring a couple of times and ended up with Giardia and the runs for a couple of weeks when we returned.
The hike out is brutal. Especially if you are helping drag people by the hand up that plateu climb. Start as early as you can and avoid the heat off the day.
There isn't much shade once you climb out of the main canyon aside from topographical. I hiked in with hiking boots and out with my Tevas.
The campsites were nice soft sand. The waterfalls are beautiful. Depending on how many people are currently riding horses in vs. hiking, the trail might be covered in cow pies. The port-a-podies were kept relatively clean. New ones were airlifted in and out by helicopter regularly when they were full.
As the others have said bring lots of water on the hike in and the hike out. There isn't water along the way and its a long hike with a backpack filled with a weeks worth of supplies. I don't remember bugs being a problem at all. We slept out under the stars. No need for a tent.
Have fun.

ClintSnakeman
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Re: Hiking the Grand Canyon: the Havasupai Indian Reservatio

Post by ClintSnakeman » April 6th, 2014, 7:24 pm

Thanks a bunch everyone. We are walking, jogging, going up and and down inclines, etc. at a minimum of four miles a day. We will do several 10 mile hikes with boots, with one in Sweetwater Texas. I'm hopping to get some great photos... if I choose to carry 8lb of camera and lens. Thanks again and I will post photos on the return.

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