This will be mostly all text – as it is a story, rather than many photos. Deal with it.
Months ago, hiking to the waterfalls in the desert of Arizona was decided. Within the last few days – it actually happened.
When I reached the trailhead, I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the hike ahead of me. Packing enough water and getting enough sleep = SUPER IMPORTANT.
The first part down was switchbacks – painful on my knees. Especially after hiking nonstop this entire last week. When you reach the bottom, it starts to flatten out. But the terrain is rough the entire trail. Whether it’s rocks, gravel, sand, etc. It does go up and down – it’s quite hilly. And there’s a lot of rock climbing/jumping included.
Honestly, the hike there seems super easy now that I think about it. (Yeah, compared to the hike back……) I mean, going there is all downhill almost.
It wasn’t really all that hot the day I hiked out – there was sun but it wasn’t up all the way, so I got some shade. It was mostly downhill, which I thought “wow, the hike back is going to be a bitch” as I was hiking down.
There are animals you are supposed to keep an eye out for. Rattlesnakes, mountain lions/bobcats, and apparently black bears (plus more). We didn’t get attacked by any.
My feet started hurting about 6 miles in – the outside of my heels being the worst. It was burning and I could feel blisters forming.
When I took off my socks and shoes – I was right. My feet were blistering…..and bad.
Hitting the falls? Incredible. So worth every drop of sweat and every ounce of pain. They are absolutely unreal. It feels like a tropical island. A new world. A new planet, even.
It’s hard to explain the beauty of the falls around Supai. There’s many different falls, including: Havasu Falls, Lil Navajo Falls, Mooney Falls, and more. LOOK ALL OF THEM UP! Unreal.
I slept by the river in my tent – so I could fall asleep to the sound of the rushing water and wake up to the beauty of it.
I woke up cold. Real cold. I didn’t sleep with socks in hopes to dry my blisters out. I didn’t sleep a full hour the entire night. Waking up. Shaking. Switching positions.
Now…..the way back.
My blisters hurt so bad I could have cried. I wanted to take a helicopter back. Give up. There were no other options available. I had to hike back. I had to be strong and confident. So I packed up my huge 65-liter bag with my tent, water, sleeping bag, and other necessities and headed out.
It was all uphill this time. My feet hated me. I needed to stop. But I continued.
Because you are in the desert……can you guess what it present? Yeah. Cacti. I stepped foot on a rock that shifted and my leg was snatched by a cactus. I yelped, jerked back, looked down at my leg, and saw blood. I started to pick cactus needles out of my leg and wipe the blood away with my forearm. Great. Couldn’t get any better.
Couldn’t let that stop me, though. We continued in the heat. Without shade. My camelbak ran out of water so I was down to my bottle.
Just keep hiking, just keep hiking, just keep hiking, hiking, hiking……
I got to the beginning of the switchbacks and started up. I screamed. The blood blister on my left foot popped and I could feel the blood leaking through. (Gross – I know) It was so painful. But I was so close.
Dehydrated, blistered, cut by a cactus, and all around exhausted……I told myself to not even stop on the switchbacks. Just keep going. Don’t stop. It’ll hurt even more to stop and start back up.
I could see the top, only a few switchbacks away, and I really started to push myself. Talking to myself. It’ll be over if you keep pushing.
I made it to the top and the first thing I did was throw off my heavy backpack, and take off my socks and shoes. What a relief.
I laid down on the ground and waited for Stef and Dianna. Stef had blisters too.
I was so happy. I felt so accomplished – so proud. I gained such a respect for my body….what it can do and how much I can push it. So worth every single minute, every single mile.
I was sweating, out of breath, dry, in pain, and bloody. But the point is…..
I survived the desert.
Thanks for reading my drawn own, not well-written story of my experience with hiking through the desert! It was worth it – I promise. Until next time!
Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •