Sometimes you cannot help succumbing to the sheer joy of procrastination. I promise I have absolutely no nobler reason for waiting so long to write this post. Now that we are getting ready for our hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains for Christmas, this is my last chance to tell the world boastful tales of our bravery and smartness. So here we go...
Read about 26 & 27 November here.
It's 4am in the morning. Arun and I are fast asleep, warm and cozy within our sleeping bags, numerous layers of clothes and 2 pairs of socks each. I suddenly heard something creeping by the side of our tent. I listened closer thinking it might just be leaves rustling in the wind. The rustle turned to footsteps slowly beginning to circle the tent. By now even the last trace of grogginess had gone from my head. I woke Arun up, quietly, lest the thing outside gets scared of movement within the tent. It turned out that Arun was awake and listening too. We quickly signaled to each other not to talk and grabbed the flashlight we had handily placed by our heads. At that precise moment the creature outside struck my side of the tent with its paw. Our hearts jumped and both of us felt a crazy adrenaline rush and we spoke in whispers as to what to do. We quickly waved the flashlight across the tent a couple of times. The animal outside must have gotten scared of the light. It silently slunk away. Arun and I burst out laughing in relief and excitement. We were more intent on discussing what animal it could have been rather than worrying about what it could have done. It could have been a hedgehog or a small boar. Nothing larger than a fox, we decided.
We were so excited that an animal actually struck our tent that we could not go back to sleep for over an hour. Finally we decided that we had to put the episode behind us and go to sleep, for we had to hike back out 10 miles come morning. Just when we drifting back to sleep, Thud!!! Something fell on top of our tent. We realized that it had to be the bag of food we'd tied on a tree branch above us. We thought the animal had come back for revenge after all and waited for it to approach the tent, regretting not tying the food higher and further away from our tent. But there was nothing except silence. We opened the inner wall of the tent and stealthily peered out through the mesh the served as a window. Much to our relief, we found that the bag had ripped and fallen down due to the wind and weight of the food. No animal this time. Much laughter and banter followed ensuring we didn't sleep again that night.
We had decided not to hike back with our 30 pound backpacks, one of our wiser decisions really. So we handed them over to a native of Supai village who would take it back to the trail head on a pack horse. We improvised a knapsack out of the bag holding one of our sleeping bags, tossed our remaining food and water in it and set off on a mile-long hike to Mooney Falls. The hike was mostly flat except for the last bit where we had to scramble along the cliff face a little to get to the place from which we could face the falls from the front. We got a brilliant top view of the falls, more pristine blue waters, more breathtaking panoramic views. We had read that people could die trying to get to the bottom of the 200ft high Mooney Falls where one needs to climb down an iron ladder and go through a cave. We decided we'd like to live and ate candy bars instead before we hiked back to the campsite. Here's one of the great shots Arun got.
At this point Arun was feeling rather desolate about not capturing the front view of Havasu Falls. So we stopped at Havasu on our way back. Arun, being Arun, jumped on rocks and tread some water and performed varied acrobatics for about an hour until he got this picture.
We then stopped at Supai Village 2 miles down the way to get some lunch. The Indians surprised us with one of the best veggie burgers we've had in this country. After stuffing our faces in the name of getting the essential carbs we continued the hike, not heeding our sore muscles and trying hard not to think about the 8 long miles that lay ahead. We made a quick detour to the 100-footer falls which we missed during our hike down because it was kind of hidden away from the main trial.
By the time we left the 100-footer we had about 7 miles to go and only 3 hours of daylight left. The canyon can be whole different place in the night and it is easy to lose one's way. We did not savor the idea of hiking in the night. So we hurried, stopping only when our legs threatened to go on strike if we didn't. When we were taking one of our reluctant breaks and guessing that we had 4 more miles left to go, the Indian returning after dropping off our bags greeted us on the way and shouted "2 more miles!". We could not believe our ears. Were we really that fast? Was it the absent backpacks? Nevertheless, this news gave us renewed energy and we practically hopped and skipped the next mile till the last mile of switchbacks were in sight.
We squinted in disbelief when we caught sight of a couple approaching us. It was almost 4pm and they were barely beginning their hike. Apparently they had lost their way and driven around all day to get to the trail head. We told them a little bit about the trail, warned them about hiking in the night, sincerely wished them luck and moved on. We hope they made it to the camp safely. The switchbacks that took us 20 minutes on our way down took more than an hour to climb. We ran to our car at the trail head, psyched that we had hiked 20 miles in 2 days. This was our first time doing such a long hike and camping in the US. It is one of best trips we've done so far. And it only left us wanting more.
29 & 30 November
Oh yes, our trip didn't end with the hike. Normal people would be too tired to do anything more. But we don't claim to be normal at all. We explored a little more of the Flagstaff and Phoenix areas over the next 2 days. In the interest of not boring our dwindling reader base with details, here are the most interesting pictures. Wikipedia to the rescue if you insist on knowing more.
Do watch out for our post on the Smokies trip which will round off 2009 for this blog. Merry Christmas everyone!