Grand Canyon Tour
This is where I wax eloquent (or not) about the trip, explain why we visited Doughnut Mountain, complain about accommodations and food, and generally make subjective assessments of the entire event.
Doughnut Mountain - I was poking around south-central Oregon on Google Earth and found a picture posted to Panoramio of Doughnut Mountain. First, I couldn't imagine why someone would take a picture of it. Second, I couldn't imagine that someone would bother to name the feature. Third, I was amazed to find that it's listed on official maps as Doughnut Mountain. Those that know me know that it's nigh impossible for me to pass up a doughnut. So, there you go...
I took this trip with my sister rather than my usual companion and love of my life, my wife. I had to leave her at home nursing a broken foot. Though, the reality is she would not have ventured down that trail to Supai again. Yes, she's already have the 'pleasure' many years ago. That experience left an indelible impression and there was no talking her into doing it again. 'nuff said.
I love exploring remote regions. When the sign says 'next services 100 miles' I know I'm on the right road. Northwest Nevada is quite picturesque, in its own way. When we pulled off the freeway 16 miles out of Portland, Oregon, we didn't drive on another freeway until Las Vegas. Probably 1/3 of that driving time on that span was on dirt roads. We encountered towns with exotic names like Gerlach, Nixon, Gabbs and Amargosa. We drove on the highway known as the 'Loneliest Road in America', hwy 50 across central Nevada that the GPS insisted was the 'low-NELL-ee-est' road in America.
One surprise - the Lund Petrified Forest (41° 9' 37.95" N, 119° 23' 29.55" W) didn't appear on any of my maps. I like petrified forests. I was happy.
The pony express carried mail across the US for 18 months in 1861-1862. During that short span a legend has grown around the men and horses that bravely faced the elements and unknown assailants to carry information across this vast nation. When the service was discontinued many of the way-stations were abandoned. In the 1970s a forgotten stations emerged from the shifting desert sands a few miles east of Fallon, Nv. It was a fascinating opportunity to reflect on the efforts that built the west.
We had great accommodations on the entire trip. Surprises were both the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs (inexpensive and very nice) and the lodge in Supai. The lodge in Supai is expensive by comparable standards, but then so is everything in Supai. Our room was clean, the bed comfortable. The curtains were a little worse for wear, and hot water was only about a 10 minute wait away. I made the mistake of taking a shower one evening before going to bed. The water started out warm, and got increasingly colder until I couldn't take it and got out. Turns out a matter of seconds later the hot water arrived and my sister got a comfortable shower. The tap water was very good - I should know. I drank gallons of it.
You will read a lot about the high cost of shopping in Supai. When you consider everything available was brought in by truck to the trailhead, loaded on a mule and carried to the village, or put in a helicopter and flown in, it's amazing the prices are as reasonable as they are. A McDonald's style cheeseburger was priced somewhat over $7. A basket of onion rings was $5. I had a Supai original dish that consisted of fry bread, beans & beef, cheese and salsa. It was quite good. For the most part the food was typical fast food fare at the speed of fine dining. All I can say is get over it and consider where you are. If you don't want to pay for it, carry it in yourself.
Much has been made of the social issues that face the population of Supai. I'm not going to go into it, as there are plenty of discussions about it online. It's unfortunate. Bulletin boards in the main town square have fliers about the dangers of Meth and other drugs. On our hike out of the canyon we came across inbound hikers leading a riderless horse. Around the corner we found an Indian sitting on a rock with his head in his hands. He was a little foggy about what he was doing there, but complained he had lost his shoes. We asked about the horse, and he said, 'oh, that must be my horse' kind of as an afterthought. He bummed a bottle of water off us and he assured us he was OK. As we hiked on we saw unmistakeable stocking-foot prints in the sand for the better part of a mile. An hour or so later, he passed us on his way to the hilltop on his horse with his shoes and appeared to be a little better oriented.
This is a spectacular location. The blue-green water of the Havasu River, the beautiful waterfalls and terraced pools are striking. However, most of the terraced pools you see in historic photographs are gone. The 'official' explanation is floods in 2008 that destroyed much of the village, wiped out Navajo falls and created a new falls almost a mile upstream also took out the terraces at Havasu Falls. Truth is the area was already in decline from overuse a long time before. The delicate mineral formations are easily destroyed by people tromping all over them. As the Indians fight drugs and violence in the village, their paradise is trampled by well meaning but overwhelming throngs of visitors. It's actually difficult to watch.
OK, I made it, in spite of weeks of pre-hiking anxiety. In fact, I feel I did rather spectacularly, considering. The hike from Supai to the hilltop was actually exhilarating, and much easier than the downhill run. Would I do it again? No. Been there, done that. There's too much sadness in the village and the trampled environment. Yes, I'm glad I did it. It's a bucket-list kind of thing. Unfortunately, it's on too many other people's lists as well.