Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Havasupi: the final chapter

Tonight I finish this story. For real. So the trip was super fun, swimming in the water and jumping off of waterfalls the entire time. Beside the minor setbacks of having to cuddle with Matt's girlfriend to keep me warm and eating Matt's food to sustain myself, the trip went relatively smoothly. So we went down on one condition, and that was that we had to be out of Havasupi and back at our cars by a certain time so that we could drive back to St George the next morning so that Spencer could catch his flight to Salt Lake to make it to work the next day. We all agreed on it, and that was the plan. So the plan was to be at the cars by a certain time and we were all good. All that stood between us and this plan was a 13 mile uphill hike with a killer last mile or two of steep switch backs to finish us off. But we knew what it was before we picked it up, so we started our trip home in the evening giving ourselves 6 or 7 hours to make it to the top. Plenty of time if you keep a steady pace.

All I had to eat on the hike out (and most of the trip anyway) was a package of roman noodles and a package of maple syrup instant oatmeal. It would have been too tricky to try and sneak that last granola bar out of Matt's pack on the hike up, so I ruled that out of the equation from the get go. But one problem was we didn't have time to stop and cook water, so I had to eat the roman noodles raw, which is disgusting. But half way through the trip I gave in to hunger and did it. I will never do it again...

So Matt followed the camel back theory to hiking which is one of the more dangerous approaches to outdoor living. It is that rather than spacing out your rations of water over the entire hike, you down it all at the very beginning and then let your body slowly distribute the water to the appropriate places. This method doesn't work, and you end up being thirsty an hour later no matter how much water you drank at the beginning. So Matt and maybe even Hannah drank all their water at the very beginning of the hike and had nothing left for the rest. Add on top of that that they were both planning on eating their granola bars that they had saved for the hike up only to find that a rat had made his way into their pack and taken it all for himself. And then add one more tasty layer on top of that that Matt noticed a pain in his foot at the beginning of the hike that later turned out to be a fracture he had gotten some time on the trip. He was about to hike 13 miles on a broken foot.

After a couple miles of hiking out, Brian and I were setting a much faster pace than the rest, and we'd have to stop every half hour or so to let the rest catch up. Matt, Hannah, and Justin finally told us to just keep going and they'd catch up to us at the end. So we booked it out of their. Every time I've hiked out of Havasupi, I stare at Brian's foot prints right in front of me and just step in those. I keep the same pace as him, and we end up making good time. A couple hours later, we were looking up from the bottom of the switch backs at our car at the top. We started up the switch backs for a few minutes then decided to have a rest and wait for the others. 15 minutes or so later Spencer showed up and took a seat with us. He said he hadn't seen the others for a while, and they were behind him. So we sat and waited for a while. Then for another little while. Then for like a solid hour. They didn't show. We didn't want to get too out of the groove, so every 15 minutes or so we'd get up and walk another 5 minutes then sit again, hoping to see their flash lights coming up from the canyon, but nothing happened. After a good hour or so of waiting, we thought it'd be a good idea to send one of us back to see if they were alright. I was nominated to go, and Brian even carried my pack the rest of the way for me up the mountain in exchange for back tracking. But before parting ways, I grabbed my last pack of maple syrup instant oatmeal and put it in my pocket for safe keeping. I figured I'd want a little snack on the way back up.

I didn't have a flash light when I was walking back into the canyon, so it was kind of scary. I had a little blue light that you stick on your key chain that really serves no purpose for how bulky it is compared to how little light it provides, but it was all I had. I kept thinking that a bum or zombie would attack me en route, so I was sure to keep all my survival fighting tactics on call. They failed me as all of a sudden I heard my name being called from the bushes in some beaten, raspy voice. I shined my little light in the bushes to find a man staring straight at me. It was Jesus coming off the mountain from his 40 day fast, and he looked beat... Wait, no, it was Justin, who looked exactly like all the paintings of Jesus I've ever seen (he had a beard and long hair), and he was lying on the rocks on the side of the trail. "What are you doing? Where are Matt and Hannah?" I asked him. "They're back there a little way. They're not doing so good. And I can't walk anymore..." So I left him stranded on his rock and walked another couple minutes down the trail to find Matt and Hannah sitting on the ground with their gear sprawled out on the trail. Hannah was mumbling gibberish from being so exhausted, and Matt looked like he was in post-alien abduction shock. I don't remember what the conversation went like, but I remember being informed that I had eaten his granola bars, that they had no water and so I gave them what I had, and that Matt couldn't walk because his foot was broken. So I took the contents of Hannah's pack, emptied them into Matt's pack, then carried the pack with the contents of two packs. But just before setting off, I downed that pack of instant oatmeal, and I remember feeling the sugar rush through my veins and give me a new sense of vision in life. I had so much energy.

So we walked up the trail a little way to meet up with Justin where he tried to mutiny against our original plan of hiking out of Havasupi. I remember saying that we needed to get out of there within an hour to make it back to St George in time, and Justin responded with, "yeah.. it's a good plan and all, but.. I think I'm just going to stay here..." Not wanting to strand one of our company in the middle of the grand canyon, I volunteered to carry Justin's pack for him, which wasn't a pack as much as it was just a big duffle bag way too full for only a couple days of camping, and his guitar. With Matt's super pack already on my back, I put Justin's bag on my chest then strapped his guitar to the side of my body and started walking up the mountain. I remember Justin yelling at me, "are you on crack or something?!" as I started walking up, but I told him I was on oatmeal, which is pretty much the same thing. So we made our way back up the mountain with Matt limping along, Justin trying to find large rocks to lie on and die, and Hannah wobbling from side to side as she walked and mumbling nonsense as we walked. We made it for a ways like this, but they finally said they had had enough and couldn't go any further without some more food or water. So I walked up the rest of the mountain with the rest of the gear and made it to the car where Brian and Spencer were waiting. I told Brian that they needed food and water, so he walked back down with a gallon of water and some candy. That was enough to get them mobile again, and they soon made their way to the top.

We barely made it to the gas station driving out of their because the car was on empty. Once we filled up, me, Matt, and Hannah slept in Matt's car while Brian drove mach 5 back to St George with Spencer and Justin sleeping in the car. He had promised to get Spencer back to St George by a certain time and only had about 5 hours to do so, so he had to get moving fast. I remember him telling me that he was running stop signs and everything through little towns so that he'd make it on time. And he did it. He got him there right on time. Then Spencer told Brian that he actually didn't have to be there right then, he still had a couple more hours before he had to be at the airport, and he just wanted to make sure he was on time. So thank you, Brian, for being a man of your word and flirting with danger to be so. Me, Matt, and Hannah woke up in the car the next morning, drove to Vegas and had our customary buffet breakfast at Palace Station. It was a well-deserved meal for 3 starved and dehydrated campers. Then we drove to St George where Justin and Brian were waiting for us at Justin's place with home made sausage, biscuits, and gravy, which we ate with no problem. It was a fun trip...

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