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

What I Definitely Don’t Wanna Be When I Grow Up…

Hi, hello, I’m currently a freelance writer, editor, Jack(ie) of all trades…
but I’m very much still figuring out my life.

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I earned a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University back in 2013
but, over the years, I’ve considered becoming a flight attendant…
and I’ve been rethinking this pursuit lately.

In fact, I recently applied to a bunch of airlines and even landed a few interviews!

But y’all know me. I’m essentially George Costanza.

And I’ve since reconsidered.

And, sometimes, it’s easier to find clarity when you figure out what you DON’T want. 

I’m still not sure what I’m doing but I know
I definitely DO NOT want to be a… 

Doctor – blood? eek!
Lawyer – abiding by the law? eek!
Drug Dealer – not abiding by the law? also, drugs? eek!
Chiropractor – fake news! eek!
Baker – have you watched my insta stories? eek!
Coroner – eek? eek!!
Mathematician – numbers? (I had to Google 9×7 the other day) eek!
Toilet Attendant – smell ya later? eek!
Librarian – shushing people? (I literally cannot whisper) eek!
Candle Maker – SCENTsational headaches? eek!

So, like, I’ve basically got it all narrowed down. 😂
I left flight attendant off the list because it’s not a definite NEVER ever
but, like, never for now? Classsssssic Jackie.

“Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be … when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am.”
– Death of a Salesman (speaking of which, I do NOT want to be a salesman either)

Truly, though, over the years I’ve realized the things that make me happiest are being outside and being around animals (the non-human variety, of course).

Anyways, I did a thing and made a YouTube video!
It’s been a minute and, as much as I LOVE writing, sometimes I just need to TALK to understand my own train of thought…

…because half of the time this train is choo-choo’ing out of the damn station before I have time to register that it was even there! 😂

As an INTJ, I live inside my head 99% of the time.
So, here are 3.5 minutes of me trying to decipher these thoughts of mine…enjoy!

 

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

Why I Continue to Choose Hostels over Hotels

Because clean sheets are overrated and bed bugs need lovin’ too!

I’m kidding, jeeeeez. The common misconception is that hostels are dirty, dingy, and dangerous butttttt that couldn’t be further from the truth! I mean, sure, sometimes you check in to a hostel in San Diego to find that your new roommates have locked you out in an effort to finish cleaning up vomit on the floor so that you don’t get a “bad impression” of them. And then *click* the door unlocks and you’re greeted by the strong smell of limes, an extremely intoxicated 20-something, and a teen cleaning up the mess. You spot the empty bottle of tequila, a condom wrapper, and Flaming Hot Cheetos on the nightstand. All this and it’s ONLY 7 FUCKING POST MERIDIEM.

Ah, hostel life, you sigh, before muttering, I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and you hop back down to reception where you inform Bradley that I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS! and he skeptically asks, how old are you, and you say, 27, and he failingly tries to disguise his surprise as he agrees that, yes, maybe you are too old for this, before assigning you a new room.

TRUE STORY.

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Never has there been a more appropriate gif.

And, yet, I continue to choose to stay in hostels because that’s where all the hella cool people are. Minus the vomming folks but I’ve been there too so, like, whatever.

From the 61-year-old man from the South Bronx who stayed at Hostel Fish and kept calling me ‘sista’ after learning that I too am from New York to the 30-something working there who once walked ACROSS AFRICA in the name of clean water, hostels are filled with the stories of incredible travelers, wanderers, and curious characters. 

My most recent stay at Hostel Fish in Denver took me back to my first time staying at a hostel four years ago. Remember that time I met the coolest people who crammed me in a car and invited me to venture to Canada with them? On that same trip, I ended up ziplining img_12303and hitchhiking. The great thing about staying in a dorm-style hostel is that it serves as an endless revolving door of awesome people. Most recently in Denver, one of my roommates was 23-year-old Michelle from Reno, NV. It was her first time staying in a hostel and she reminded me so much of myself– I too was 23 when I embarked on my first solo adventure and stayed at a hostel for the first time.

Upon meeting me, Michelle asked if I was going on the hostel’s pub crawl and if I was “old enough to drink.” I literally cackled. When I told her I was 27, she was like, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE, LIKE, 19.” Ah, jeez. 

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This is my face when people think I’m 19. Also, my face when old men “accidentally” moon me. Also, my face 98% of the time.

She seemed a little nervous and unsure– all feelings I had when traveling alone for the first time. Meeting her was like meeting myself all over again and being able to observe how much I’ve grown as a traveler over the years.

Then, there was the old man also staying in our room who “accidentally” mooned me as he was getting dressed one morning. There was the charming 30-something fella with the “#1 Dad” necklace, worn proudly around his neck. We bonded at the bar over our mistakes in marriage and our mutual desire to travel and explore as much as we can.

Staying at a hostel gives you the opportunity to meet folks from ALL walks of life. Back in Denver, I also met Max from Ukraine. He’s a smiley dude working at Hostel Fish and his general excitement about life is magnetic. He told me he feels like he’s exactly where he needs to be at the moment and it was hard not to believe him. Another incredible human working at Hostel Fish is Diego. An extremely talented artist, yoga teacher, and wanderer, this Colombian native is so inspiring. We talked for a while and he was kind enough to show me a bunch of his sketches, complete with stories to go along with each. Check out his work here! He also has the most unique handwriting of anyone I’ve ever met and keeps journals just to practice his penmanship.

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If you’ve never stayed in a hostel, I cannot recommend it enough– especially if you’re traveling solo! In fact, I still keep in touch with plenty of folks I’ve met in hostels throughout the years. From Laura (we met in Berlin) who lives in the UK to Shelbie, Dalton, and Alan…all of whom I met when in Seattle, I have a growing network of fellow adventurers around the world now!

Here’s a list of all the hostels I’ve been to in my travels– feel free to message me if you want more info about the hostel life!

States:

  • HI Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
  • Green Tortoise Hostel, Seattle
  • Samesun, Vancouver
  • HI Downtown Hostel, Vancouver
  • Hostel Fish, Denver
  • Lucky D’s Hostel, San Diego

Overseas:

  • Kabul Party Hostel, Barcelona
  • Singer109 Hostel, Berlin*
  • The Circus Hostel, Berlin
  • Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, Denmark
  • Budget Backpackers, Edinburgh
  • Makuto Hostel, Granada
  • Kex Hostel, Reykjavik
  • The Yellow Hostel, Rome

*I would NOT recommend staying here if you’re looking for a fun hostel where it’s easy to make friends. I stayed here for one night in Berlin before switching to The Circus Hostel where I had a MUCH better experience. That being said, Singer109 was really clean and well-maintained…just had ZERO atmosphere and felt more like a hotel.

And that’s all for now folks! Time to explore more of Sunny D before reluctantly heading back to Michigan.

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie