Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

We have outgrown this blog - Something new is on its way

We have outgrown the blogging platform we were attempting to run this website with.  It is just not adaptable for some of what we are attempting to do.

We hope to have our new website up and running soon.  Hopefully prior to the mad February rush to secure 2018 Campground Reservations.  Until then we will update this existing format as we recreate all our web pages in our new format.  Just a heads up that you will be seeing something new in the future.

We initially will structure the new site in the same familiar structure.  We hope to avoid any learning curve navigating the site.

Our Domain name of will remain the same after we conclude our migration. 

We would like to pass on a large Thank You to the Backpacking community out there that supports us.  Remember we need donated written articles as well as photos.  We think you will really enjoy the updated graphics the new site will have.  Photos display so much better.

More info coming as we get closer.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


We have made the trip to Havasu Falls numerous years.  We have hit all seasons.  From blistering summer heat, to bone chilling times of the year with snow.  We have found all seasons have critters looking for easy food pickings.  Namely your backpacked food.

While the squirrels are the most prevalent, there are also ring tailed cats (similar to a raccoon), mice, rats, roaming horses, and the local dogs. While all times of the year have their hazards, the warmer months see the highest activity.

You want to protect your tent, packs, and sleeping bags from damage.  While in your campsite, keep all food and smelly items such as toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, lip balms, etc out of your tent, sleeping bags, and packs that at left unattended.  Forget for even 5 minutes and it may be too late.  Some of these critters have been conditioned more than likely from generation to generation.  They will chew through tents (the rodents), drag your pack away (ring tails and dogs), and trample your tent (horses).

The first line of defense it to get your food and toiletries away from your expensive gear.  Many use tupperware containers and things like that.  At times there are 5 gallon plastic pails with lids available at the campground entrance.  But you can't depend on the pails being available.

Our most successful method of prevention so far, is to purchase a "Ratsack" to stash our stuff.  Then use a length of 100lb test monofilament fishing line over a high tree branch.  Hoist up the sack high enough.  Keep in mind horses will stand on their hind legs to reach up and try to snatch goodies.

All of our items are first put in ziplock freezer bags.  Even our "Pack it out Trash" is ziplock bagged and kept in the "Ratsack" too.

We ordered our "Ratsack"off Amazon.  Only the large size was available at the time.  When it arrived it looked overly large.  It probably is too large for a single person.  In hindsight I am glad that was the one we purchased.  For two people it is very ample.  We hadn't thought through the trash issue until we were actually on the first trip with it.  Then we were glad for the larger ratsack. We had plenty of room for both food and trash, times 2 people, for a 3 night backpacking trip.

Other successful suggestions:  At times there are 5 gal plastic buckets with lids available from the ranger building at the entrance to the campgrounds.  These are effective.  People that have used them suggest sliding them under the picnic table seat anytime you are not into your food.  The only problem is you can't depend on them being available.  Especially when there during busy times.

Bear proof containers are another option if you have one and don't mind the additional weight.  I would opt for the Ratsack in lieu of the Bear proof container.  I have both to pick from.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Old Route 66

Article & Photography by: Rick Beach

Today I stumbled into information related to Old Route 66.  Often referred to as the "Mother Road"
Have you ever gotten to a page on the internet you have no idea how it happened?  Suddenly into some obscure website that piques your interest?  Subject related to something you would have never thought to go searching for it?  Ah, the pleasures of modern technology.  It allows you to travel the world in micro-seconds.

I have traveled sections of Route 66 over the years.  I know I have been on parts of it across the U.S.  Though at this stage most of my recollection is isolated to some Arizona sections.

On the the subject I really wish to share.  I stumbled into a blog an artist (Willem Bor) created to show his craft of model making.  Oddly he did not live in USA.  But fell in love with the buildings along Old Route 66 during a visit.  Then set off to recreate them in miniature form.

One building in particular is currently still standing and called "Hackberry's General Store".  I have actually been there on numerous occasions, and have done my own photography.

Check out his blog link below.  I will let you find this very building built in model size, and showing on his blog.  Then you judge how cool these model buildings are.  I also love the history that is provided with each piece.

Sadly, in researching and going to his Facebook page I believe he is no longer with us since January 2017?  His work and website lives on, at least for now.  We can only hope he is traveling along Route 66 and comparing his work.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


For those of you venturing to Havasu Falls.  Grand Canyon Cavern Campgrounds offers an excellent alternative to sleeping in your car at the Hilltop Trail Head parking lot.

I have done the Havasu Falls trip on numerous occasions. More than once some years.  Until this year I have always left Las Vegas and made the drive timed to arrive at the Trail Head right when I want to start hiking.  At times that meant leaving Vegas at 2am. 

Traveling in the dark means missing much of the scenery along the way, or fun stops such as Hackberry, Arizona.  Perhaps missing Seligman, Arizona if you are coming in from that direction from the east.  Both are great photo op stops.

The last 60 miles off old route 66, once you start heading north on Indian Rd 18, is a desolate and hazardous stretch of highway at night.  It is not the road to be driving in the dark due to wildlife and open range cattle crossing or standing in the road.

Our Havasu trip planned for mid May 2017 found us debating the early morning departure from Las Vegas.  After recommending the Grand Canyon Cavern Campgrounds on the website so many years we decided to give it a try.

The entrance is a few miles east of the RT 66 & IR 18 intersection.  The view from the road side appears as an old run down gas station, and a small cafe.  Some old vehicles staged around the parking lot up by the buildings.  We stopped in the cafe and the friendly staff pointed us to the road/drive, that snaked around the back of the cafe, and up over a small hill.  We almost got nailed by the cops tucked in behind a tree (Old black & white cop car staged along the road)

The campground is about a mile down this road that winds through low growing evergreen trees.  You eventually come to the restaurant first.  This is some distance off the main road RT 66 and not visible from the main road. 

Don't expect RV resort accommodations.  Though they do have power pedestals on many sites.  The campground is typical high desert and appears not well kept.  Sites are dirt.  Some have picnic tables, some do not.  No sites have any type of shade structure.

The Evergreen tree's peppered about average about 15ft tall.  This is high desert.  So I suspect these are Cedars or Pinon Pine.  They offer relatively little shade except in the late afternoon.  They do provide a little privacy from some neighboring sites.

There are rough graded roads and ample sites tucked into out of the way places if you want to enjoy some privacy.   We saw no site numbers.  Once you pay you simply have squatters rights to any open place you want to make your camp.  Bathrooms/Showers.....not the best.  But they are centrally located at the front of the camping area, and not too far from the restaurant building.

We made reservations at the last minute, the night before.  Mid May there were plenty of sites.  The grounds are large enough I would think you would not have trouble at any time?  You might not get a level site, or one with power, but I think they would be able to accommodate you?

The prices of $32 a night for 2 with a tent and no power requirement seemed very steep for what was offered.  But we had a picnic table and lots of 15ft Pinyon Pine or Ceders that offered wind breaks and some privacy.  The location makes it near ideal.  We didn't have time to check out the Cavern tours.  That might be another story for another day.

We arrived around 6pm and took advantage of the restaurant that looks like it is open until 8pm.  We can both recommend the Pulled Pork/BBQ sandwich.   We washed those down with several ice cold brews and had a very relaxing visit.  It sure beat driving over in the middle of the night tempting fate driving in the dark.  It certainly beats sleeping in the vehicle at the trail head.   It beats waking up after attempting to sleep at the trail head, being tired and cranky, at the start of the hike down.

We tried to set up minimal gear to head out right at first light.  It was a very cold night for sure.  I believe more so because of the higher altitude.  We survived the cold, and packed gear about 4am to take off.  Several others must have had the same idea because two other groups took off right before us.

The drive up IR 18, the last 60 miles to the trail head, was a pleasant one.  The sun just below the horizon.  Enough light to avoid slamming into black cattle standing on the road,  or wandering Elk.  Both of which could quickly turn a fun trip into a disaster.

At the trail head, in the morning light, we made a breakfast.  A batch of bacon, eggs, and coffee on the camp stove stove out the back of our vehicle.  With some hearty protein in our systems we started hiking near sunrise.

So our recommendation is to allot the time to make this your stop.  Enjoy the restaurant the night before.  Even come early enough to check out the Caverns.  Then give yourself 1 hour of driving time, plus packing up your camp, to be at the trail head right at sunrise.   You will easily be down the switchbacks all in the shade.  All at a much more relaxed frame of mind.

Those leaving after a trip, and after hiking back out, this is also an excellent place to camp over.  Avoid a long drive after hiking out.  If this is your first trip you will not believe how cramped up your legs will get if you hike out, and make a long drive.  Been there, done that too!  Getting smarter and enjoying the whole experience way more. 

Summer time may be different, due to heat.  Camping could become unpleasant?  Be sure to check this all out in advance.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Seligman Arizona was once the part of the homeland of the Native American Havasupai people.  They at one time had a settlement in this very area.

In more current times Seligman is on the original Route 66.  In recent years Interstate 40 bypassed the town a few miles away.  Traffic for the most part no longer passes through town.

The town still vies for tourist dollars to exist.  Now a small town of about 500 people.  If you stop and take some time, photo ops abound in every direction.  Old vehicles, Elvis, Burger joints, Frozen Custard, Road Kill Cafe, Gas stations, and a KOA Campground on the east end of town.

If you are traveling from the east on your way to Havasu Falls or Peach Springs, you will pass through Seligman.   You can also continue traveling west through Peach Springs and eventually hit  Kingman Arizona.  On old RT 66. Beyond Peach Springs you will pass by Hackberry's General Store.  Talk about another photo op.  Be sure to stop!

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Footwear & Foot Care (The single most important piece of gear)
This is collective recommendations of numerous experienced backpackers that have provided input.
If you have something that needs added please write to us with your thoughts.

The type of boot or footwear you hit this trail with, will probably be your most important decision concerning gear.  Many people attempting this trip may have never done long distant hiking, let alone Backpacking under a load.  Hiking and backpacking are two different worlds.  Also the terrain and climate on this trip can be a challenge to many.  Add to those facts, the majority of people doing this trip tend to carry a pack that is way over weight.

There are many brands of footwear out there and it all boils down to personal choice, fit, and what you can afford.  This is one item that really falls in the category of  "You get what you pay for".  Don't go cheap (Cheap in terms of poor quality) because you think you will only use them for this one trip. 

Wearing proper, properly fit, and properly broke in footwear will prevent a multitude of foot and ankle pain, and injuries.  You won't need many of the products that people recommend to make up for not heeding this simple step.  The majority of new people will unfortunately not listen to this advice, then end up learning some hard and painful lessons. But experience is a wonderful teacher.

There will always be those that will brag they backpacked this in sandals, flip-flops, or tennis shoes.  I can assure you I have seen many testimonials of people having extreme pain and long lasting injuries.  I have made multiple trips into this area and every time see people with inadequate footwear dealing with incapacitating foot and ankle injuries.  Some ruining the trip for an entire group that may have spent months if not years waiting and planning for this trip.

Many ignore the recommendation of bottom soles rated for backpacking.  Or ankle support to avoid twisting an ankle.  They blow off experienced people recommending shoes/boots rugged enough, and made specifically for backpacking.  Proper footwear may also prevent knee and back injuries, or the unfortunate accident of going down with the weight of your pack on you.  Such a fall can result in finger, wrist, or arm fractures. I even have a story of a broken nose.

Open toes shoes are famous for getting a person stuck in the toe by thorns, cactus needles, or some other pointed object.  With punctures you now have to be concerned with tetanus or other types of infection.

Open toes are also an accident waiting to happen by catching a toe nail and peeling it off.  Even catching a toe and breaking it.  Try hiking any distance should that happen to you.  This is the same reason seasoned deck hands on boats wear closed toe footwear.  They know the hazards of catching a toe on a deck cleat or other hardware.

There are endless rookies out there that have been lucky.  People that pay no heed and haven't had an accident happen yet.  They brag they backpacked in sandals or other inadequate footwear.  This is the same mentality of not wearing a seat belt in a car because of never having a crash yet.  People wouldn't have accidents if they could see it coming.

You are pretty much on your own down here, and it is real inconvenient and expensive to seek any type of emergency medical attention.

Don't be that rookie that ends up suffering to save a few dollars, believing what some say of hiking with the lesser.  Or not heeding those with the life long experience that have contributed to this collective of recommendations. If you aren't concerned about yourself, at least be concerned about wrecking the trip for others that may be traveling with you.

Socks come in close behind your boots.  Cotton socks get sweaty and cause blisters.  There are high tech socks on the market that wick moisture and don't have sewn seams in spots that rub.  Some recommend wool. 

Check out socks such as:
Darn Tough Socks
Dry Wick type socks
Merino Wool Socks
Synthetic Fiber socks
Some suggest liner socks inside your other socks (make sure your boots are fitted to such)

I for one can't wear wool.  I successfully backpack, and have for years, using cotton athletic socks. They are not recommended and not recommended even by me if you have no problem with other types. 

You have to  take precautions if you do end up using cotton.  I do several things.  I get new ones that provide lots of cushion.  The type with no sewn seam up near the toes that rub.  I wash them at least once before the trip.  I carry extra's and make a point of changing them during the hike down, and back up....whether I think they feel like I should or not.  They are either washed out and completely dried while in camp, or I carry enough fresh ones for the trip out.  The fresh ones are kept in zip lock bags so they never get wet or damp if it rains.   This might mean carrying 6 pairs of socks for this trip. (Consider the weight).  But if you can't wear wool or some synthetics, you may need this option.

Simply stopping 3 or 4 times during your hike in or out, pulling your socks off and shaking any sand out does wonders.  This includes dumping any in your boots. Rubbing off anything that may be stuck to your bare skin. You would be surprised what a few grains of sand can do to the ball of your foot if you don't practice this simple thing.  If nothing else, it will re-position everything in case something is rubbing and creating a "hot spot". Often you will feel nothing until you have worn through a layer of skin, or a blister forms and pops.  By then it is too late.

For some preventatives concerning products to prevent blisters, first be aware of using products not made for this purpose.  Many homemade remedies people recommend, don't work and can make things worse.  This is not the place to be "testing" out a product either.  Do that ahead in your conditioning hikes. Make sure you hike in dusty, gritty conditions.

Tape products, second skin, and cushioning tapes, often start peeling off and become a rub point that otherwise would not be there.  Think long before using these too.  People that recommend them because the seemed to work for them.....may have simply had good fitting footwear.  They might have had no trouble even not using some type of product.

Some products recommended, may block your pores and end up causing more problems, rather than preventing them. Others, both home grown as well as commercial, will leave a layer that attracts and adheres dust and grit.  I have tried both commercial and recommendations of home grown.  I have found my method of changing socks periodically, and taking a moment every mile to take my boots off and re-position my socks works better than anything.

For those that believe a product may be a "cure all", here are a few to check into.   I only post this as info.  They come with no recommendation.  Remember you will be hiking in dry, dusty, and sandy terrain.  You don't want dust and grit being stuck to your feet, socks, or the insides of you footwear.

Again proper footwear that is proper fitting, and properly broke in, is your best preventative.  That does take time and money.  Some people want to ignore that and shortcut things.  With that said here is more info.

Check out products such as:
Two Toms Blister Shield

Many will make this trip and end up with foot injuries that range from blisters to sprained ankles.  Bad footwear, and improperly fit footwear (which includes socks) will result in incapacitating blisters and popped off toenails.  Any of these can result in the inability to hike back out of the canyon.  This may require you to fly out on the helicopter, or ride out on a saddle horse.  These emergency options may well cost you more than a good pair of backpacking boots.  So consider that before making your choices.

 Keen's extra wide toe area
Over the ankle footwear is better when used while backpacking under load or used to walking in rough terrain.  The terrain on this trip can often cause you to misstep and twist or sprain an ankle.  Wearing low cut shoes can raise the chance of injury. Going down with a pack strapped on can cause broken arms, fingers, wrists, and the list goes on.

When backpacking under a load your foot tends to spread out and swell to some degree. Many of us have found boot styles that compensate for this.  I personally recommend Keen's brand after trying many brands over the years.  When being fitted you want to take the socks you will hike with.  Have the boots professionally fitted.  Don't just grab a pair of cheap boots off a discount rack, in your size, and head out the door for home...or worst out on the trail.  They also need broke in!

To avoid toenails popping off trim them 1 week to 10 days prior to your hike.  Long nails will rub inside your footwear and can cause the nail to come off.   Even if they don't pop off, many will experience severely "bruised" nails.  Very painful!   This is a very common injury.  Don't let your nail trimming go until the last minute.  Cutting one way too short right before the hike can result in a painful trip perform this task carefully a week to 10 days in advance.  I am sure you will pass some ill prepared people that are doing this hike in everything from tennis shoes to flip-flops.  I have seen them limping to get on the helicopter too.  Backpack smart, enjoy the trip, and don't ruin it for someone else that is traveling with you.  It is too hard to get permits into this area.  You want a trip you can brag about.  Not one you complain about.

Break the boots in long before you ever do long distance hikes or backpacking.  Try them out soon.  Wear them around the house, to go shopping, etc.  If they don't feel right take them back while you still can.

Eventually work up to walking several miles in the boots.  Then start hauling around some weight in a backpack to prep for your actual hike.  Somewhere in your planning and prepping stage you need to be doing several conditioning hikes in the 12 mile range.  Don't do this trip cold turkey with no conditioning.  Again some macho types will have you believing going cold turkey is possible with no pain.  When you wake up the next morning after your hike in you will know what some of us are talking about.  Hiking/Backpacking down, and uphill works muscles you don't normally work when traveling on flat terrain.  So include some inclines are stair steps in your conditioning.  Remember you have over a mile of down incline going in (the switchbacks), and the same incline going up, on your trip out.  Going downhill in the case is almost as difficult as going up.  Carry your 800mg of Ibuprofen!

The secondary benefit of breaking in your footwear, and conditioning with weight, distance, and incline, is the fact you will be toughing up the skin on your feet.  This especially benefits people not accustomed to long distance backpacking. We aren't talking about building up any super layer of callus. But those that put in miles constantly have definitely built up hardened skin that provides a huge protection factor.  These people fair much better than those with soft feet.

Water shoes
Water shoes are recommended, in addition to what you hike in with.  You will want these if you will be doing any wading or swimming in any of the pools.  The travertine dams in the stream are often destroyed during flood conditions.  These dams break into hard sharp pieces that make up the bottom of the stream.  The stream bottom equates to crushed tile in many places.  You can use any type of slip on footwear that will protect your feet.  Flip flops are not recommended....but you will see it done. 

Again its a long hike out with foot trouble.  There are more expensive water shoes that will double as camp footwear to allow your hiking boots/shoes to air out. Open tops invite sand and small sharp pieces to end up inside your water footwear. So the closed style provide you better comfort and more protection to the sides of your foot.  Others have reported success using neoprene socks with cheap water shoes.

One of the most common mistakes is to wear water shoes continuously to day hike.  If you are making multiple stream crossings (such as a campground to Beaver Falls trip), take both your water shoes, and your socks and hiking footwear.  Switch back and forth as you have to make a crossing.  Feet that remain in wet shoes will more than likely cause you problems.  The skin softens and it is easy to get a blister or shoe cut.  Take the little extra time to take off your water shoes and keep your feet in dry socks and shoes while on the trail between water crossings.