Leaving Paradise

Supai Travel Blog

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Hike Back to Hualapai Hilltop

In order to avoid hiking during the hottest parts ofthe day, we had to wake up at 3:30am to ensure that we were on the trail by 4:30am. The night before, I had a bit of a panic attack while trying to sleep in my tent. My tent was still warm from the heat of the day which must have triggered my claustrophobia. Then my mind just wouldn't calm down. I started thinking about what would happen if I wasn't able to get any sleep. Would I be able to hike the 10 miles out without any sleep? What would happen if I wasn't physically able to hike out? All of this was racing through my mind and even a quick walk in the fresh air didn't seem to calm me down. Luckily for me, this isn't the first time this type of anxiety had set in. I always carry a few zanex pills with me whenever I travel for situations like these.

The Switchbacks back up to Hualapai Hilltop
I took one of these pills which must have kicked in pretty quickly as the next thing I knew, Alexei was waking me up at 3:30.

We all gathered our gear, loaded up on water, and emptied out our tents and were back on the trail by 4:30am. The campsite was already a beehive of activity as other hikers were setting out as well. It was still dark as our group set out and we managed to get to Supai in about 45 minutes. Everyone kept up a good pace even the slower ones in our group. I think everyone was just motivated to avoid the heat and get to Hualapai Hilltop as quickly as possible. After a quick break in Supai just as the sun was starting to come up, we all returned to the trail for the remaining 8 miles back to Hualapai Hilltop.

Back at Hualapai Hilltop
  This is where the group started to separate. Three days ago, we all hiked together at a leisurely pace but today we were hiking at top speed. I grouped with Marlon, Chris, and Rebecca who set a fast face. I had no choice but to keep up with them as I didn't want to be left behind to hike by myself. One by one, we passed other hikers and stopped only twice for a quick snack and rest during the entire 8 miles. The final difficult uphill climb back to Hualapai Hilltop wasn't as brutal as I had expected and we finally finished just after 8:00am, a total of 3 1/2 hours to complete the 10 mile hike! We rested in the quickly disappearing shade and it wasn't until another 45 minutes before the first of the remainder of the group arrived. The last person finished at around 9:30. Alexi and Jeff said that for the entire group to finish in 5 hours is a great accomplishment.
Back at Hualapai Hilltop
With the entire group back together, we couldn't just simply take off and drive back to Flagstaff. It was now a waiting game for our gear and personal belongings to arrive via the donkeys. Our guides said that this process could be quick or take the entire day. Alexei kept in constant contact with someone back at the campsite for a status but in no way would be wait later than 1:00pm. With a few hours to kill, we pulled away from the crowds at the parking lot to an isolated spot where we could all have lunch and chat about our favorite moments of the last 4 days. Eventually, Alexei got word that our gear wouldn't be arriving anytime soon and he made arrangements for our gear to be sent to the hotel later that night.
Group Shot
After this confirmation, we started the long drive back to Flagstaff where it all began 4 days ago. We arrived back at Little America Hotel where we all said our goodbyes and for those of us still around tonight, we agreed to meet up for dinner and some drinks in downtown Flagstaff. I stayed overnight at a Best Western and woke up just after 2am for the 2 hour drive back to Phoenix for my early morning flight back to LA. All in all, this was a great trip. It is notoriously difficult to get reservations to the campsite for Havasu Falls. Having someone else take care of all the planning, logistics, and food made the $1,300 dollar price well worth it

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Hike Back to Hualapai Hilltop
Hike Back to Hualapai Hilltop
The Switchbacks back up to Hualapa…
The Switchbacks back up to Hualap…
Back at Hualapai Hilltop
Back at Hualapai Hilltop
Back at Hualapai Hilltop
Back at Hualapai Hilltop
Group Shot
Group Shot
Supai
photo by: gentry591