Let’s Go Chasing Waterfalls

I’d always thought of the Grand Canyon as a dry, arid pit of rad rocks that you most certainly wouldn’t want to fall into. Seriously folks, step AWAY from the edge for you’re giving me anxiety and no selfie should turn into a deathie. Well, you bet your holy bananas I was surprised to find out that the Havasupai people live IN the Grand Canyon and regular ol’ folks like myself can venture on in for a visit.

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On that note, if you’re looking to score permits, click here, and/or if you’re looking for some packing advice, head on over here.

BUT STAY RIGHT HERE IF YOU WANT TO CHASE SOME WATERFALLS WITH ME. 

Depending on where you set up camp, you’ll either be closer to Havasu Falls or Mooney Falls. We essentially took the very first spot at the campsite, right by the bathrooms – call it lazy, I call it convenient.

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The campground is pretty expansive and there are bunches of cool spots to choose from along the meandering rivers and streams. In my research, a lot of folks were like WATCH OUT FOR THE SQUIRRELS THEY WILL EAT ALL OF YOUR FOOD OMG OMG so naturally, I was like OMG WE GOTTA WATCH FOR THE SQUIRRELS HOW WILL WE SURVIVE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH SUCH WILDLIFE MY GOODNESS SOS

LUCKILY — you’ll find these handy *home improvement store branded* buckets all around camp! Just throw all your food and snacks in there, throw a rock on top, and ta-dah. Zero critter problems!

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Havasu Falls, 98 ft.

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The first waterfall you’ll spot as you make your way to the campground is my personal fave, Havasu Falls. It’s easy to get to and there are plenty of spots to hang up your hammock and chilllllll.

 

 

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Havasu was my favorite because it felt the most like a little tropical oasis. It was never super crowded and there was always an equal amount of shade, sunshine, and spots to hang our hammock.

Mooney Falls, 200 ft.

Ok, y’all. I was stressed about Mooney Falls. I cannot tell you how many videos I watched on YouTube and Instagram and how many people I messaged like, WHAT SHOES DO I WEAR HOW WILL I SURVIVE WHAT IF I FALL OMG OMG OMG

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Guys. It was FINE. Like, yeah, I sweat through everything I was and wasn’t wearing in anticipation of my untimely demise down the side of the 200′ cliff but it really truly wasn’t that bad and I actually ended up doing it TWICE! Like, down, up, down, up. I KNOW.

Getting to Mooney is a half mile walk from the beginning to the end of the campground. It’s not difficult to get to if you just want to have a gander. But if you want to go DOWN, well, then ya gotta get down. I DO recommend wearing gloves because the chains do get a bit slippery with the mist from the waterfall itself.

 

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TIP: Get your butt to Mooney as early as ya can — especially if the weather is nice! Otherwise, you’ll have to wait in line to make your way down…which isn’t fun if you don’t want to feel rushed along the way. Luckily, the first day we went to Mooney it was a bit overcast and drizzly…so, like, not ideal BUT there was no one else around and I took my sweet time going down. The next day, there was a bunch more folks and people were coming up as we were going down. NOT ideal. But I survived 🤷Going back up is WAYY easier though.

Beaver Falls

To get to Beaver Falls, you’ll need to scale down Mooney first. From the base of Mooney, it’s an 8-mile RT hike to Beaver. The trail to Beaver will take you through rivers and lush landscapes you’d never expect in the middle of the Grand Canyon — you’ll absolutely need water shoes for this hike!!!

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You’ll come across a few little ladders and tricky climbs along the way, but nothing tooooo crazy. Seriously, if I could do it, you can too.

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Of course, it’s all worth it when you arrive…

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TBH, Beaver was probably my least fave which I feel dumb even saying because holy heck, is it not gorgeous?! But in terms of like hanging out and spending a lot of time there, BF didn’t have much space and it felt crowded. Plus, you have to keep in mind that you’re eventually going to have to climb back UP Mooney when you get back from Beaver so you probably wanna head back before daylight is donezo.

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If you’re lucky enough to score a permit to Havasupai Indian Reservation, I hope you have excellent weather and the BEST time! If you’ve been, what was your favorite waterfall? Did you make it to the confluence? Tell me all the things!

Until the next adventure…

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

The Hike to Havasupai for Dummies

Hello hello! Whether you’ve already scored a permit to visit the most remote village in the lower 48 or you’re just hoping to get your hands on one next year, this little jumble of words is for you! blog link thing havasupai.jpgFIRST THINGS FIRST. Let’s get the damn lingo CORRECT.

Havasupai Indian Reservation: A Native American reservation named for the Havasupai people and surrounded entirely by Grand Canyon National Park. “Havasupai” means people of the blue-green waters. AND YOU WILL FIND OUT WHY.

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Supai: This is the actual village that’s located within Havasu Canyon (an offshoot of the Grand Canyon). Supai is NOT accessible by road and the Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which is OUTSIDE the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.

Hualapai Hilltop: This is the trailhead you’ll drive to (if you’re hiking in) where you’ll be met by some curious mules and canyon mutts. While there are no services at the hilltop, there are bathrooms! Woooo! 

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Peach Springs: The last town and sign of “modern” life (using modern SUPER loosely here) before you reach Hualapai Hilltop. Literally. Once you turn onto Indian Rd 18, you can say goodbye to all cell service. From there, you’ll be at the trailhead in about an hour. Be sure you have enough gas for not only the ride there but back as well!

Now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s dive into this magical little world of water bluer than the sky…


Not only was this MY FIRST TIME BACKPACKING, but this was also my FIRST TIME CAMPING OUTSIDE IN AN ACTUAL TENT (because, yes, I’ve camped INDOORS in a tent), my FIRST TIME EATING FREEZE-DRIED FOOD (which is surprisingly GOOD), and THE LONGEST HIKE I’VE EVER DONE.

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I scored permits for April 28 – May 2 and, since we were coming from San Diego, we drove to Hualapai Hilltop the evening before (April 27). Fun Fact: If you get to the trailhead the evening before, you can camp there! And here is where I have my first piece of ROOKIE MISTAKE ADVICE. Please, please, do yourself a favor and get yourself an easy, lightweight backpacking tent. We were the only NERDS trying to set up a tent with POLES, using rocks to hold it down… it was a mess. 😂Granted, our teepee looked hella cool. In the photo below, the brown building is where the bathrooms are!
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The next morning, our hike began! Get ready for an 8-mile trek from Hualapai Hilltop to Supai. Once you reach the village, you’ll stop in town to check-in and grab your wristbands as well as a tag for your tent. You’ll also see helicopters coming and going but you’ll feel super accomplished, like, ya bitch I HIKED that shit and didn’t just fly eventhoimsotiredomgpleaseletmesitandnapsomewhereforeverthanku 🚁 

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Screen Shot 2019-06-15 at 2.55.29 PMI highly recommend stopping at the little convenience store in town for a FROZEN GATORADE. Sure, it may be overpriced, but after eight miles of sweating and wondering what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever had to drink. From the village, you’ve still got another two miles to get to the campgrounds. Overall, it took us about 5.5 to 6 hours from the trailhead to the campground. 

NOTE: We started our hike at 7AM. I read a million blogs before this trip and so many folks recommended starting before sunrise, with some starting as early as 4AM! Of course, it all depends on the time of year you venture there but we were fine! There were plenty of shady spots to stop once we really got into the canyon.

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I had SO many questions prior to starting this adventure. Like, I was literally messaging random folks on Instagram to ask, Did you bring walking sticks? (no) What kind of shoes did you wear? (these and these) How much water did you really need? (less than a liter) Was the descent to Mooney Falls as SCARY as it looks?! (surprisingly not!)

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If you’re still struggling to figure out what to bring for this 4-day, 3-night adventure, take it from a noob: you don’t need as much as you think. Here’s my packing list, complete with links to get ya started! My entire pack was only about 20 pounds, versus some folks who struggled with 40+…eek, no thank youuuuu, sir.

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Oh, and a hammock! I actually won this sweet Madera hammock in an Instagram giveaway. Also, instead of bringing two sleeping bags, we just slept on our sleeping pads and opened the sleeping bag to use as a blanket.

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The best piece of advice I can give you for this trip is to NOT listen to TLC and DEFINITELY do go chasing allllll the waterfalls you possibly can. Only lame folks stick to the rivers and streams that they’re used to. 👀

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Click here to learn all about the lovely waterfalls and each accompanying hike!

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Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

How I Scored Permits to Havasupai This Year!

Before I write this, I have an admission to make…

I had never heard of Havasupai before this year.

I KNOW, I KNOW.

How can I call myself a travel aficionado (I don’t) and not know what this majestic place is!?

For those who are as uninformed as I was, Havasupai Indian Reservation is considered one of the most remote Indian reservations in the good ol’ USA.

Actually, it’s THE most remote village in the lower 48.

In fact, folks who LIVE in this village still get their mail delivered by MULE.

Did I mention this reservation is tucked away IN the Grand Canyon and the only way to get there is to traverse 20+ miles RT on foot? (I mean, okay, yes you can helicopter in but WHAT FUN IS THAT!?!)

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And did I mention that you need a PERMIT to even attempt the hike there?

It’s apparently a BIG DEAL and there are folks who have been trying for YEARS to score permits. They go on sale just one day a year: Feb. 1

I came to find out about this magical place through a fellow couchsurfer I met while in Montana. Remember Montana? And my undying adoration for it? Anyways…

I kept in touch with this fella and he reached out to me at the end of January asking if I’d ever heard of Havasupai. I immediately Googled it and was like, holy bananas, HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS WONDERLAND!?

Fast forward to a few days later, Feb. 1st. Everyone and their mothers are visiting this website to try for one of these coveted permits.

Pro Tip: You have to make an account to even attempt to get a permit, so make one IN ADVANCE! Then, as soon as the window opens, you’ll be logged in and ready to go!

I was logged in half an hour before the window even opened to start buying…once 10AM (EST) came around, I was click-click-clicking away!

By 10:51AM, I had gotten through to the calendar page – where you pick out the dates you want (it’s a set parameter of 4 days/3 nights, no exceptions) – THREE times but the site kept crashing on me.

At 11:03AM, IT WORKED!

I had gotten through and I had the confirmation email to PROVE IT!

Beginner’s luck! It took me over an hour but I was persistent.

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I also kept trolling Twitter with the #Havasupai tag to see how others were making out. I saw a lot of folks having trouble but there were also some beacons of light who encouraged folks to keep clicking through — and that’s exactly what I did!

I also kept refreshing my browser, which I think many folks were afraid to do…fearing they’d ‘lose their place’ — but those were the people who ended up with no permits at all.

Keep in mind this is not a FREE trip. The below info is straight from the website:

ALL campground reservations are 3 Nights / 4 Days.

$100 per person per weekday night
$125 per person per weekend night (Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights)

These prices include all necessary permits, fees, and taxes.

This means that a 3 Night / 4 Day stay will be a total of between $300 and $375 per person (depending upon how many weekend nights are included).

I’ve been told that the prices have gone up significantly (again, I had no idea because I’d never even heard of this, whoopsie!), but I figured it was a solid investment for memories that’d surely last a lifetime.

So, when am I going?! THREE WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!

April 28 – May 2

Fun Fact: This will be my FIRST time legit camping in a tent outside.
It’ll also be the most challenging hike I’ve ever done. Eek!

Stay tuned for my packing list and TONS of photos.

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Dear Denver…

Ah jeez. Just when I had my heart set on moving to Montana, I had to go and venture to Colorado. Another beautiful state with an abundance of snow-capped mountains. 😍

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Sure, folks come here for the good ol’ cannabis…in fact, one of my hostel roommates who introduced himself as “Ty Ty” said:

“I just travel to the weed states. I’m going to Seattle next.”

God, I love hostels.

Anyways, I’ll pass on the pot. Not my thing. Luckily, Denver is so much more than dispensaries…though Hostel Fish is conveniently located NEXT DOOR to one if that’s your thing. No smoking IN the rooms though unless you feel like handing over $150. Think of all the edibles you could buy with that! I actually have no idea. Anyways…

I decided to jet to Denver because it’s a hella cheap flight from Detroit.

Like, just 50 smackaroonies. Wooooooo!

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If you’re traveling solo, you should ABSOLUTELY stay at Hostel Fish.
Weird name, right? Denver’s not known for fish…wait, what about rocky mountain oysters?

NO, THOSE ARE TESTICLES. DON’T LET THEM TRICK YOU.

Okay, okay, the owner’s last name is Fish. The hostel is NOT fish-themed or anything. Nothing fishy about it.

If you’re looking to come to the Mile High City (named for its elevation not the pot stuff jeeeez you guys!), you may come across the 11th Avenue Hostel. DO NOT STAY THERE. I’ve heard that it allegedly smells and there may or may not have been a thrash of bed bugs. I can’t say for sure, but, like, why take a chance?!

I’ve stayed at tons of hostels both in the states and in Europe– Hostel Fish has BY FAR the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered. Like, they actually hang out with the guests and every single one of ’em has an interesting tale to tell. Plus, the rooms are themed, clean, and – holy heck! – the beds are legitimately COMFY.

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There’s a fun bar area (guests get a free drink each night!) and a kitchen too. Every Thursday, the hostel hosts a pub crawl – all the main bars are literally around the corner from Hostel Fish. I went on the pub crawl and tbh the highlight was spotting this WOLF at one of the bars:

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Her name was Aspen and she was SUCH a mush and I spent a solid 25 minutes sitting on the floor petting her.

The hostel is also located above a super cool restaurant/bar/dance joint called Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Even the locals recommend this spot, so you know it’s good. We actually ended our pub crawl at Ophelia’s and had a super fun time on the dance floor.

Much more to say about Denver but this gal needs to get her butt up for an early flight to CA tomorrow! 

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Montana is the best but no one there wants you to know it

A bit of culture shock is expected when you leave your own country, right? Like, oh, I’m going to Paris and everyone is going to smoke everywhere all the time and I don’t have to tip anywhere and I’m going to get dirty looks for even trying to speak French…TRES BIEN. I get it. This is not America and the servings here are not large and I’m ok with that (no I’m not). But, hey, life’s great and I’m eating my weight in croissants on quaint little streets named Rue Saint Dominique and such. Ya know?

But what about culture shock IN America? AS AN AMERICAN?!

I present to you, Montana.

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M

O

N

T

A

N

A

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Glacier National Park

I’ve been to the South. I’ve been to Utah. I’ve been to Texas. I’ve been here and there.

But…

MONTANA.

GUYS.

I loved it. I smiled the entire time I was there minus when the power went out in my Airbnb just as it started to snow and I was all alone but ANYWAY.

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Mission Mountain Range

LOOK HOW PRETTY EVERYTHING IS.

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Lake McDonald

Montana’s the kind of place where folks are friendly for no good reason and it’s weird because NY is, like, well…not like that. I mean, NY is my home and I adore it and I too hate when tourists stop in the middle of sidewalks and/or walk on the WRONG side (people, sidewalks are like ROADS…there is a right way and a wrong way to walk) and people who think Times Square and 5th Ave. are New York City, like, hello no bye.

New Yorkers are blunt, brash, bonkers, and bankrupt because the rent is too damn high.

We run on Dunkin’ and Montana runs on these adorable little coffee shacks that I quickly became obsessed with but oh so embarrassed to drive through in my dumb Cadillac (quick story time: I rented a car and they gave me a Caddy which most would love but I was like UGH and it didn’t have a CD player and I was SO mad because I brought my Man of the Woods CD because duh and I missed my little 2000 Toyota Camry and I felt like I was driving a spaceship and it had Cali license plates to make things worse and it was just so not Montana or me but ANYWAY).

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Cowgirl Coffee where they claim to have “the best hot chocolate ever” so naturally I got it and it was not the best. City Bakery in NYC is still THE BEST but whatever it was chocolate and it was hot so it was nice.
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Not my Caddy but the car I wish I had been driving bc I BET that puppy has a CD player.

Things I did in Montana:

  • Went camping for the first time.
  • Saw the Milky Way with my own four eyes.
  • Saw a half-full milk jug on the side of the road.
  • Saw a few bison!
  • Went to Wyoming.
  • Drank huckleberry wine.
  • Wait, Wyoming is NOT in Montana. Whoopsie daisy.
  • Changed my mind about dinosaurs existing. I blame Zack.
  • Hiked a mountain by myself and thought I saw a bear but it was really a large deer.
  • Pulled over several times to let other cars pass me because I was driving grandma miles per hour to really take in my surroundings. SO MUCH BEAUTIFULNESS.
  • Said “Wow, everyone here is SO nice!” approximately 2,945 times.
  • Said “Wow, everything here is SO gorgeous!” approximately 2,946 times.
  • Couchsurfed for the first time and met the coolest family and fellow couchsurfer.
  • Fell in some mud in a field after dancing to JT on the side of the road. I blame Zack.
  • Turned bright red when my tour group and guide sang ‘happy birthday’ to me on a red bus tour in Glacier National Park the day after my actual birthday only to find out that there was another lady and it was her ACTUAL birthday and then the tour guide was like ‘sorry, we’re not singing again’ and I was like omg I just stole her thunder WHOOPS.
  • Saw Old Faithful erupt! That might’ve technically been in Wyoming but– oh, look! A bison!

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I’ve been to quite a few places. And I always ask myself, “Hmmm, could I see myself living here?” whenever I travel somewhere new. I compare everything to NY. But we all know NY is incomparable. It’s electric, magnetic, rat-infested, and smells like pee most of the time.

But it’s wonderful.

And it’s safe and cozy and I know where all my favorite things are because the grid system is INCREDIBLE but hot damn huckleberry pancakes!

Montana sure felt like home.

Like your favorite worn-out book with all the soft, wrinkly dog-eared pages that you keep going back to, re-reading it over and over because it’s just so damn GOOD and you find new details and bits of gold and coffee-stained spots (whoops) each time you read it and it never ever gets old.

THAT’S MONTANA.

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But the locals don’t want you to know it! They want to preserve the great treasure state– and I don’t blame them.

Here’s the thing. If you go to a place like Missoula or Bozeman, you can’t expect it to be like LA or NY or wherever, right? You have to EMBRACE the simple life. I mean, it’s not all dirt roads and log cabins and fishin’ and all that– in fact, I saw the prettiest Walmart while in Montana. And by “prettiest” I mean it was literally a regular Walmart SURROUNDED by gorgeous mountains and it was unreal and it almost made me want to shop there but I didn’t.

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Ok, so where did I go, exactly?

  • Kalispell
  • Whitefish
  • Missoula
  • Helena
  • Bozeman
  • Big Sky
  • Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, into the woods, down some streets, here and there, you get it.

Right after Montana, I flew to LA for a weekend to visit some friends and, let me tell YOU, flying from the tiny little airport in Bozeman (complete with dinosaur fossils) to LAX (complete with yoga rooms) was culture SHOCKKKCKCKKCKCK. I was like, wait, what IS Starbucks and where are my little Cowgirl Coffees at and why is everyone wearing full make-up and talking about acting and avocados?

I found myself missing Montana as soon as I left. 😭

From the sweeping landscapes and the abundance of mom and pop shops to the suspiciously friendly residents and the unpredictable weather, I am HOMESICK for this state.

So, au revoir New York! I’m excited to call Montana my actual home beary soon.

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Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie