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

Traveling Solo but not Alone

Traveling Solo but not Alone

Well it’s been over two weeks since I embarked on my adventure to the West Coast and I’ve already seen so many cool things and met incredible people along the way. As much as I adore NYC and all of my friends back there (seriously, I miss you guyssss), I have this immense fear of getting stuck in a rut and routine…turning 80 and regretting allllll the things I didn’t do.

IMG_3416I used to dream of having some super important job with a fancy title and corner office somewhere in Manhattan; a job that would allow me to afford a penthouse overlooking Central Park and a personal driver. While all that sounds pretty sweet, it’s definitely not everything, or really anything, life should be. People are so focused on gaining material items based on what society deems as worthy and in style. It’s literally absurd when you think about it. Whenever I go to buy something now I think to myself, do I really need this? or shall I spend this money on a bus/train/plane ticket somewhere? 

At the end of your life will you really remember all the clothes/electronics/shoes you bought or the adventures you went on and the people you met? You can totally have both, but our society’s priorities are so screwed up! It’s OK to be different and not follow the norms of what others think life should be. 

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Met all these lovely folks in Seattle!

When I was in Seattle, I met two awesome guys who literally sold everything back home and took a train across the country on a whim. With no jobs or apartment lined up, they managed to secure a place and some interviews in the time I was there (which was like three days). How awesome is that!?

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”

Through this adventure I’ve met people from all over the world and have experienced so much generosity and kindness along the way from total strangers. It’s incredible. Like right now, I’m sitting in a room with four people I met in Seattle who invited me along on their Canadian adventure from Vancouver to Whistler. I DIDN’T KNOW THESE PEOPLE TWO WEEKS AGO! Thanks to Michelle, TJ, Alan and Trevor for letting me explore a bit more of the world with them!

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On our way to Whistler from Vancouver! We were super stuffed in there…I literally couldn’t move my head. Good times!

Traveling solo is a truly insane, invigorating thing and I’m loving every minute that I’m not sitting in an office wasting away.

In just two weeks time I’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge, had my first In-N-Out burger (can we please get these in NY?!), stayed in hostels for the first time and met so, so many cool people, saw the Space Needle (which is not nearly as tall as you’d think), rode a bike for the first time in YEARS in Portland (thanks for being so patient, Kayla! haha), ate a ton of Voodoo doughnuts which I subsequently worked off on the steepest hike of my life in Canada and zip-lined for the first time in Whistler!

Booking a one way ticket across the country has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s so refreshing to meet so many other travelers who have that same desire to see the world and continue learning with each new venture.

I would encourage everyone to take a leap of faith and if you’re itching to go somewhere, GO! You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do.

Happy Travels!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie