I'm currently typing this blog post whilst lying in bed at Grand Canyon International Hostel in Flagstaff, Arizona. This is part of a continuing series from my travels around the country. You can read the previous blog post here. I just got back from loading up on sushi after the most intense 20-mile hike of my life to the Indian Reservation village of Supai on the opposite side of the Grand Canyon. Although I didn't reach my the majestic Mooney Falls, the journey proved to be more important. Long story short, I was staying at Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab, Utah after sliding off the road at Canyonlands National Park. I met this upstanding guy from Switzerland who was hitchhiking to San Francisco. He told me about his plans to visit Grand Canyon. Intrigued, I decided it would be more fun to have a travel companion than go alone. This way I could drive through Monument Valley and finally make the long-anticipated hike to Mooney Falls. Approximately 350 miles later, we arrived at the Grand Canyon. My friend Max was able to talk his way in without an entrance fee since he was staying with a couple he met while hitchhiking in Colorado. In order to get there, however, he'd need to hike 7.5 miles to the base of the canyon. We parted ways at the Visitor Center, he caught a shuttle bus to the trail, and I received word that he made it safely.
My initial plan was to make the short drive to Flagstaff, stay at a hostel, and continue to Sedona in the morning. However, I was determined to finally see Mooney Falls! I asked for directions at a gas station and began driving West towards Los Angeles along the Historic Route 66. A couple miles before Peach Springs, you take a right at the junction to Supai. It's about 60 miles to the parking lot. Rather than spend money at a hotel, I opted to sleep in my car another night. I woke up in the morning during sunrise and began the long 10-mile hike to the Indian Reservation below. The hike was absolutely beautiful through towering canyons. I would occasionally Indians on horseback taking supplies to and from the village beyond. Photos are worth a thousand words...
After 3 hours of solitary hiking I reached the small village of Supai. I felt like a stranger in a strange land walking through this place. It was like a land removed from time. I asked a few locals for directions to "Big Waterfall" and they directed me on the right path. Just as I was headed on my way, a guy whistled from behind and ordered me to pay for registration. This was not going to happen since I left my wallet in the car, but I obliged anyway. The woman at registration demanded I pay $88 or turn back. I explained to her my predicament. She was not going to budge. This really surprised me since Native Americans don't believe in the right to own property and no one owns nature. After so much effort getting here, there was not a chance in hell I was going to turn around without seeing this waterfall with my own eyes! So I found a secret entrance and continued on my merry way until I reached a beautiful waterfall. This didn't look like the photos I'd seen of Mooney Falls but I was just relieved to be here! After taking plenty of photos and meditating to the relaxing sounds, I decided to turn around and head back to the village. I would later discover that it would need to hike another 10 miles to reach Mooney Falls. There was a helicopter that would take you there but I didn't have any money. This must be what the woman wanted to charge me for. Rather than walk through the village again and risk getting caught, I took the trail on the other side of the pristine river.
Normally the way back feels shorter. Definitely not the case in this scenario. Luckily I still had two water bottles left and a bag of walnuts. I would recognize different landmarks along the way. I kept reminding myself that "Peace Is Every Step", focused on my breathing, and fantasized about eating sushi in Flagstaff to motivate myself to keep on stepping. I eventually crossed paths with a Native American guy tending to his horses. I shook his hand, he congratulated me on making such an epic journey, and pointed out the parking lot above. The toughest part by far was that last mile hiking up steep inclines. My legs were beginning to feel like rubber at this point so I had to rest a few times until I finally reached the top! I've never been more relieved to see Penelope waiting for me to drive her fast. Turns out it was only another 2 miles to Mooney Falls from Supai but I'm still glad I turned around since it was all I could do to get back without passing out due to limited food and water.
Tomorrow, I will drive to Sedona, explore, go on a few hikes (maybe), and continue on my way to Texas. I definitely want to spend a few nights at Big Bend National Park. This past month-and-a-half has been the adventure of a lifetime. Part of me doesn't want it to end, but I'm also excited to be home and see my great friends again.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading this blog post...
Here's the latest and greatest aerial promo video from my travels along the Oregon Coast.