Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hualapai Hilltop (Arizona Series)

(GPS: N36 09.615 W112 42.595)
It looks like I'm not going to be around for Thanksgiving and won't have normal access to the internet so I am going to take care of this series this week. This was a special trip out of state for me to Arizona. I have been to Arizona before, but had never been here before at all. My brothers friends were in charge of this one in making the arrangements. So, other than covering the fees and going along I didn't have to do too much other than hike and enjoy the scenery.
After everyone coordinating their schedules and took the necessary days off work, we ended up heading to the north of Arizona around 11pm on a Saturday night. I was in the back of the SUV trying to get some sleep. I'm not sure I ever did; I felt like I was in a trance more than actually getting sleep. I remember being 100% conscious for sure at Kingman, AZ as we got gas. From there we were on Route 66 for an hour or so. Finally, we ended up on Indian Route 18 which is about 60 miles from Hualapai Hilltop.
At this point, it was somewhere between 3:30am to 4:00am. Looking outside I could not see very far in the distance so I could not really tell what the terrain was like. One of the issues one faces going through this area on this road out to the middle of nowhere is the cattle that can cross the road around here. We did encounter a few horses or mules just hanging around the road near the end. So, you have to drive a little slower as you travel this road.
The area really did seem isolated from civilization since no other cars at all were on this road coming in or out as we did this. Off on my left, miles away, I saw some mysterious lights at one point. It had that UFO vibe to it, but I'm sure there is a more reasonable explanation since I could not see too well due to the darkness.
The funny thing though is after the final hour of driving this road you end up at the parking lot of Hualapai Hilltop, and the parking lot is filled with a lot of cars. So, after being isolated on that road for an hour we found out we really weren't alone after all at the final parking destination. We didn't see any people roaming around at the parking lot. Most were already where we were heading, but some were probably sleeping in their cars.  
The following pictures are the way it is at the top of Hualapai Hilltop. I took this when we got back the next day at around 8am. When we were here just before 5am we got our hiking gear ready, used the restroom (which I really had to use after this all night driving trip), and then figured out where the trail was. The area was still very dark so I didn't even bother taking pictures. I did try to do a little video here, but it is not worth posting.

So, you have to imagine it was still dark, but enough light had come in where I could actually see the bottom here. At the time I was thinking how far down that looked! It looked really far, but once we started going down it didn't seem that bad. The thing was I knew we would be hiking back up here the next day, and that is when most of the work would happen.
As far as the maps are concerned this is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, but it is part of that region so it does have that look to it from above.
So the journey began as we headed down and then to the right about eight miles to get to the Havasupai Indian village: Supai.
Down below and looking back. The trail from above had switchbacked and forth for about a 1,000 ft. to this point. Not too far from the beginning at the top we encountered our first roaming horses. I didn't bother taking pictures, but I did take video footage of them as we carefully tried to maneuver past them since they seemed a lot more wild than tame. They were headed on down too. While I have encountered horses (usually with riders or behind fences) before this was the first point that I really felt like I had entered the Old West.
Almost everything from here on out was at the bottom of the canyon floor with very little elevation change. I moved forward a few hundred feet and then turned to my right (north). I'll continue this in the next blog.
The following music from was used for the video: The North, Thunderhead, Firesong.