Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Night Hike Gang

Here's the dilemma when trying to hike out of Supai (which we were committed to doing). After hiking seven miles up through Havasu Canyon, you are faced with the last mile--a 1,000 foot ascent up the switchbacks to the rim. Our one non-negotiable was that we could not (under any circumstances) risk getting to the switchbacks when the sun was beating down on them. This is a recipe for dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other real dangers.

Our solution? Leave the village at 3 am and hike in the dark a good bit of the way. This was both fun and scary. Our headlamps were great and it was definitely nice to feel the cool night desert breeze. The unsettling part? Lots of night noises (which usually turned out to be Supai dogs and horses making some kind of ruckus). Then there were the bats that we could see in our headlamps, swooping down in among us (good prep for Carlsbad?). And, of course, the ever present risk of going the wrong way (which we did only once and only for about 50 yards).

In reality, the hike is straightforward enough that the dangers are pretty minimal. This is especially true given the huge upside that awaited us when we reached the switchbacks well before they were bathed in direct sunlight. We took our time making the final ascent and reached the rim by 8 am, ready for our next adventure...and lots of recuperation!

~Steve

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