Our 4th day of backpacking Havasu Falls started early at 3:30 AM. Packing up in the dark is always slow and it took us until almost 4:45 AM to hit the trail. The hike out was back the way we came. The climb out of the campground and up to the turnoff for Fifty Foot Falls was more strenuous with the heavy packs then I had thought it would be. That being said it was early and the weight of a backpack takes a while to settle in. It was, however, still dark and the air was cool so we had that going for us.
We arrived in the Supai village shortly after the sky lit up and took the opportunity to use the facilities there as they are the last before arriving back at the Hilltop.
Use These Links to Navigate to Any Part of This Journey Through Havasu
Leaving Supai we had an odd dream-like experience. We were hiking down the main dusty road when a horse came running up from behind. It seemed as if he had escaped a pin and didn’t have a clue what to do with his freedom. He galloped up next to us and then slowed to a trot. He walked with us in this manner to the edge of town. One of the town folk passed us an inquired of the animal saying “that your dog?” When we reached the edge of town the horse spotted a few others in their pin and raced to them. The pack of horses began neighing frantically back and forth as if greeting a long lost friend. This entire episode was one of those completely unexpected events we won’t ever forget.
Climbing Out of Havasu
Though the sun was out the path through Hualapai Canyon was mostly in the shade the entire way back so the air was fairly cool in early May. We made good time through the canyon and reached the base of the 1,100’ ascent back to Hilltop by 9:30 AM. The climb up to Hilltop was fully exposed with only short slivers of the switchbacks still covered in shade. It was a grueling climb out in the heat but very doable at a proper pace. I wouldn’t want to do this in mid-summer. It is intimidating looking up at the ranger station at Hilltop perched on the cliffside but the path up is well graded and is never overly steep. We arrived back at the truck at 10:30 AM having completed our amazing journey of backpacking Havasu and feeling blessed to have had the opportunity.
Was the Journey to Havasu Worth It?
So the question we started this series with still remains: “Was it all worth it?” The answer to that question will most likely be different for everyone. Jennifer and I long ago discovered this place through photographs and when we set off on our Nomadic Life, backpacking Havasu was high on our priority list. For us getting to experience this place ourselves first-hand was the realization of a dream and one who’s beauty lived up to and surpassed our expectations. The processes of getting a Havasupai reservation is frustrating and inefficient, backpacking to the campground is a long and difficult journey, and the cost has become very prohibitive. With all of that in mind, I would still say that the journey to Havasu was worth it for it us. Sadly, because of the extreme cost, we will most likely never return.
Would We Recommend Backpacking Havasu?
The next obvious question is would we recommend the journey to others? If you are physically and financially able to make the journey than yes it is one we highly recommend.
We spent $750 on the reservations for our 4-days in the wilderness. We have never spent even a tenth of that for our other backcountry camping trips of any length. Living on a nomadic budget that is a very hard expense to justify. The cost has increased annually at a very rapid rate over the past decade. Supply and demand are very much at work here. The cost will keep many away and if money is tight I wouldn’t recommend this trip. There are other places that are very beautiful that are far cheaper if not free.
The strenuous nature of this trail will keep others away. Although, with packhorses carrying luggage down, helicopter flights available into Supai, and a lodge in Supai, those unconditioned for a trip into the desert can still make it here. However, the cost will be even higher.