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Camping with an 8 month old

camping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month oldcamping with an 8 month old

Last month we took Everly on her second big adventure…camping in Havasupai Falls! While camping down in the Grand Canyon with an 8 month old may seem overly ambitious to some, it’s an inevitable rite of passage for the Bennett family. We take groups of people to Supai on guided tours as a side biz and we went down last year while Everly was 5 months old on the inside!

This trip was also a really important heart check for me. Although we enjoyed Everly’s first adventure to Mexico at 5 months, I found myself too often mourning the change of pace that came with traveling with a baby.

So approaching this camping trip I let go of all expectations. Not in a pesimistic sense, but one open-handed to whatever new blessings the Lord had in store for our adventuring family.

True to his gracious character, God far exceeded whatever shallow expectations I had in mind!

Everly slept!

Mom slept! (Can I get a hallelujah!)

Everly ate on schedule and even experimented with new foods!

We got over 6 miles of hiking in with Everly asleep on Mike’s back.

And I got to explore a part of the canyon I hadn’t in over four years!

Tips and Tricks

With only 1 camping trip under our belts, we are by no means experts, but the things that worked for us we are more than happy to pass on!

  1. Get Osprey Child Carrier Pack. We were fortunate enough to be able to borrow one from friends and now we’ll definitely be getting one of our own! It was light weight and had an optional sun-shade  built into it – which was a must!
  2. Wear your babe. The Osprey pack worked great while hiking, but this ring sling is my at-all-times-go-to for wearing Everly. She feels safe exploring with me in the sling and it’s a great way to soothe her to sleep when it’s nap-time and we’re on the go.
  3. Dock your tot. I held out until this camping trip to get a Dock-a-Tot, and I probably won’t use it again until the next kid since Everly’s nearly out-grown it. But it worked great for this trip since Everly couldn’t fit in our sleeping bag with us and we didn’t want to lug around a pack-and-play just for night-time. Even though she’s typically a stomach sleeper, she slept soundly tucked into the Dock-a-Tot.
  4. Bundle up your babe. Did you know they make sleeping bags for babies!? I didn’t. But they’re adorable and a must for camping. I ended up getting this footmuff instead of an actual sleeping bag because it can be fastened into a stroller as well.
  5. Pack a play space. Everly was in the put-any-and-all-objects into my mouth stage during this trip, so giving her free range in the dirt wasn’t an option. We picked up a water-proof picnic blanket from Costco and it was a life-saver! It’s easy to clean, light weight, and it folds up small enough to carry in a pack. Here’s a similar one.
  6. Travel with Grandparents. This tip is the one most key to the trip’s success! Having my parents along on the trip was an enormous blessing – for everyone. 🙂

camping with an 8 month old

Any experienced camping mama’s out there have more tips to share? I’d love to hear!

 

 

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A Complete Guide to Havasuapi Falls: From a Girl Who’s Been a Time or Two

By now, you’ve probably come across pictures of Havasuapi Falls.

The pristine aqua-blue water, red sand, and majestic waterfalls are easily recognizable!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

I had the privilege of hiking in this paradise last March. Unfortunately, I can’t count it among my 30 by 30 destinations since I’ve been there before. Six times to be exact. I first hiked to Havasuapi when I was ten. My Adventureman has been over a dozen times throughout the years, taking large groups of friends. Last year, we officially launched our adventure business – BG Wild so that we can share one of our most favorite places for years to come!

If you’re looking to adventure in this incredible place, then you’re in luck! From a girl who’s been there a time or two, here’s my complete guide to Havasupai!

Just the Facts

THE LAND

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Havasupai Falls is located in northern Arizona in the southwestern portion of the Grand Canyon. It rests on Havasupai Tribal land and is governed by the Supai people. For years they’ve generously allowed tourists to visit their incredible country.

THE HIKE

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

It’s a moderate, 10-mile hike to get from Hilltop (the beginning of the trailhead) to the campground. The most strenuous part of the hike is the first mile and a half of switch backs, which traverse at an incline down the face of a canyon wall. The remainder of the hike is lined by the gorgeous, red ribbon-striped rock. At the 8-mile mark, you’ll reach the Supai village. You should stop at the local restaurant and buy Indian Fry Bread. Trust me, it’s delish!

Just when you think that your hike is over, you continue the final two miles to the campground in DEEP red sand. Your burning calf muscles will be richly rewarded as you catch glimpses of the first three falls along the way!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

All About the Falls

The falls are constantly being reshaped by floods and storms. The most recent reshaping took place in a storm in 2008. There are currently 6 falls along the Havasu creek.

FIFTY FOOT FALLS

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

The first in line is the stunning 50 Foot Falls. The water fans across a tall rock ledge causing vibrant green moss to grow all over it.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Although the undertow created by the falls can be strong (CAUTION – NEVER swim directly under a water fall!) the pool surrounding the cascade is calm enough to swim in. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a hidden cave behind one of the cascades! Fifty-foot Falls gets a lot of sunshine and is located about a mere mile from camp. It’s my first choice for swimming and enjoying the sunshine in the beginning of the day!

NAVAJO and LITTLE NAVAJO

Immediately following 50 Foot Falls are the Navajo Falls. Depending on who you talk to, identifying the actual Navajo Falls can be tricky. The original Navajo Falls dried up following the flood of 2008, causing new falls to be formed with the shift in the creek. Our local Supai friends explained that Navajo Falls is the larger falls to the left and Little Navajo trickles over rocks to the right.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

HIDDEN FALLS

Hidden Falls earned it’s name by being off-the-beaten path. You can’t see Hidden Falls from the main trail into the campground, although it quickly follows Navajo Falls. To get to Hidden Falls, you’ll need to wade upstream through gorgeous turquoise water!

HAVASU FALLS

Havasu Falls is EASILY the most popular sight in Havaupai!

And it’s not hard to see why!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

At Havasu Falls, you can bask in the sun at submerged picnic tables, jump from mini pool to pool, or take a plunge into the surge created by the gushing cascade. Gorgeous Cottonwood trees surround the falls offering shade in the warm season. If you catch them at just the right season (March-April), the breeze will shake cottonwood seeds loose from the trees giving the falls a truly magical look!

MOONEY FALLS

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Mooney Falls is an adventure-lover’s DREAM. You’ll be awe-struck and speechless the first time you see this 200 foot beauty! The falls is located at the end of the campground. You can view it from above, however actually hiking down to it is not for the faint of heart!

First, you’ll pass this forbidding sign. Then you’ll squeeze into the tunnel pictured on the right.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

As you exit the tunnel, you catch your first magical glimpse of Mooney!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Next, you’ll work up your courage to back down a series or rickety wooden ladders and chains down the cliff to reach the base of the falls. Just DON’T. LOOK. DOWN! 😉

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Trust me. The view is worth the climb!

BEAVER FALLS

If you’ve made it down to the base of Mooney, then you’re a third of the way from the campground to the final falls – Beaver! Hiking to Beaver Falls is probably one of my most FAVORITE parts about Havasupai. The three-mile trek is green and turquoise oasis. You’ll feel like you’re an explorer discovering a new land!

To get to Beaver, you’ll wade through the runoff from Mooney Falls…

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

…cross a wooden bridge…

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

… and pass through a seemingly endless field of vines!

After a long hike, it’s time to reward yourself with a swim at Beaver! Cliff jumping is a must try!

How to Book Your Reservation

Havasupai Falls has become a major hotspot in recent years. To visit the falls you must purchase a permit and camping reservation – no day hikes allowed. Depending on how you choose to book your reservations, obtaining hiking permits can be almost impossible!

There are only two ways to reserve a spot: you can either book individually through the Supai tribe or do so through a licensed outfitter/guide. Whether you go individually or with an outfitter, you’re in for a great experience. Here are the pro’s and con’s to either choice.

Booking Individually

The PRO’S:

  • It’s affordable! A three night stay is only $150 per person.
  • Rugged camping at it’s finest. Chances are, if you’re hiking in on your own, you’ll probably only be packing what you can carry on your back. A small tent, a sleeping bag, and some easy snacks and meals. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that you conquered the falls in beast-mode! 😉
  • Flexibility. When you travel with an outfitter, you may have to adjust your desired travel dates and itinerary based on when your outfitter has scheduled trips. If you’re planning your trip on your own, you have the flexibility to build your own adventure.

The CON’S:

  • It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to book a spot. As I mentioned earlier, Havasuapi has become hugely popular in recent years. With only 300 camping spots available per night, your chances of booking on your own diminish quickly. In February of every year, the tribe opens up their phone lines to accept reservations. Their phones are ringing off the hook for days on end with no call waiting or “sorry – we’re sold out” messages. Usually the tourist office sells out of spots for the entire year within 3 days. Booking on your own can be a frustrating and anxiety-filled experience! Even if you do get through, you may not be able to get the number of spots or the dates that you were hoping for.
  • Rugged, but not relaxing. Yes, traveling in “beast-mode” can be quite an accomplishment, but it’s not relaxing. After an exhausting 10-mile trek, you’ll have to set up your camp and get dinner started. And, since there’s no fire permitted within Havasupai, your dinner will probably consist of granola bars, beef jerky, and fruit. It’s possible to send grills and other heavy gear down on the pack mules for an additional charge, but we don’t recommend that. The 10-mile trek is very harsh on the animals.

Booking with an Outfitter

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Ok. Now it’s time for my shameless plug. 😉 As I mentioned, my Adventureman and I started up an outfitter company, and in my completely unbiased opinion… if you’re going with an outfitter… we are HANDS DOWN the best option! Here’s why:

The PRO’S:

  • We can GUARANTEE you a reservation! The tribe designates a small portion of their reservations each year for outfitters. This means that even after individual spots have sold out in February, our spots remain locked in. We take care of your permits and reservations so that there’s no hassle or headaches for you!
  • We’re the most affordable outfitter. Our trips aren’t as cheap as when you book individually, however we beat out the competition by several hundred dollars. Our goal is to keep our trips as affordable as possible.
  • We honor and respect the Supai, their land, and their animals. Over the years we’ve developed relationships with many of the Supai people. We consider them friends. We’re grateful that they allow us to visit their land and seek to abide by their rules to help them maintain the falls for generations to come. We also care deeply about their pack animals. To date, we’re the only outfitter that pays additional fees to transport our food and gear by helicopter to the village, rather than on the backs of the mules.
  • Our food is incredible! Since we’re able to helicopter our gear down to the village, we can provide a pretty extraordinary spread! No granola bars and beef jerky here. We’re talking steak, lobster mac and cheese, pancakes, and more!
  • We offer massages and yoga. Yup! You read that right! We bring along professional massage therapists and yoga instructors on our trips. Because, why not?
  • Our guides are fun, outgoing people. We hire our friends – the people we know and trust to be fun, outgoing, inclusive, and knowledgeable. We guarantee that you’ll love them!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

The CON’S:

At this point, BG Wild travels to Havasupai seasonally. We only take trips at the most optimal times of the year (March – May and September – October) and typically on the weekends. We’re often asked if we can change our dates or book additional trips, but since we pre-book our spots like the general public – we’re not able to make changes once our spots are set.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

So come with us!

We’d be honored to show you Havasupai! It’s truly an unforgettable place. Registration for our 2018 trips is NOW open!

Happy hiking!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

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Racing Across a Wonder of the World

Did you know that Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World?

Before I visited Zambia, I hadn’t a clue. Within seconds of beholding the falls for myself, it was easy to see why it ranks among Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon as some of the world’s greatest natural beauties.

A Wonder in It’s Own Right

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

Victoria falls is the longest and tallest water fall in the world! It stretches nearly a linear mile between Zimbabwe and Zambia and reaches 360 feet in height. Picture Niagara Falls, only double it’s height and width and you have Victoria Falls!

Racing across a 7th Wonder of the World

The expanse of the falls. Source

Five hundred million liters of water cascade over the falls every minute, creating a cloud of mist that can be seen from the air and 30 miles away. The locals refer to the falls as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or The Smoke that Thunders.

A Bucket List Worthy Experience

My Adventureman and I visited Victoria Falls on two different occasions – once nearing the end of the rainy season (late November to early April) and a second time nearly at the peak of the dry season (August through October). Both trips gave us uniquely different experiences.

In the rainy season, you walk through the park COMPLETELY SOAKED. Sometimes the cloud of mist is so thick, you can’t even see the bottom of the falls, let alone the next step in front of you! Vendors will offer raincoats as you enter the park and I highly recommend purchasing one!

Racing across a 7th Wonder of the World

During the dry season, you can see the mile-long precipice with clarity. Although much of the falls is dry, the remaining falls are breathtaking to see.

Racing Across the 7th Wonder of the World

Defying Death at Devil’s Pool

On our visit during the dry season, a park ranger asked if we wanted to see Devil’s Pool.

“Come with me, I take you there. But we must hurry.”

Not fully understanding the location of the pool or the need for haste, we meandered along behind our guide. He led us away from the viewing bridge to the ledge of the falls. We left the well-worn path and followed our guide onto the ledge clearly marked “Danger: Enter at your own risk.”

Where water once had flowed in a steady flood, porous rocks towns and puddles remained.

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

We half jumped – half chased our guide across loose rocks and puddles, all the while eyeing the edge of the falls with caution and amazement. In the distance, elephants grazed on the marshes created by the receding water.

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

After trekking about a half mile, we came to a slowly flowing portion of the falls. The only way to reach the pool was to cross it. We removed our shoes and held hands as we waded into the waist deep water.

About half way across the river, I had a terrifying realization that at that exact moment I was closer to death than I ever had been. 

We stood a mere 30 yards from the edge of a 360 foot plummet to our death! At any moment, my foot could slip or a crocodile could decide that I would make a good snack. Charged with adrenaline and a quick prayer, I double-timed it to the opposite shore!

By now the sun was setting. We would be trekking back across the falls in the dark. Our guide insisted that the pool was not far, so we continued on.

Soon after, we saw the mist and heard the pounding of surge of water crashing over the ledge.

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

We walked to the edge of the water as our guide began to drop trou. We were so shocked we didn’t have time to ask what he was doing before he insisted we do the same. Understanding our confusion, he finally explained that to get to Devil’s Pool, we would have to swim to it.

I wanted to so badly.

Only fifty yards away I could see the pool sitting LITERALLY on the edge of the falls and I could imagine the exhilarating feeling of diving into it, defying death. I felt my husband’s strong hand clamp my arm. The firm look in his eyes sent a clear message: “No, not now.” The sun had set and there were few precious moments of light left. Now was not the time to push our already strained limits by jumping into a zero-edge pool in the dark when the ledge was 360 feet off of the ground.

So, we agreed to be spectators. Our guide dived into the water, gripping the safety ropes that led to pool’s ledge.

Racing Across a 7th Wonder of the World

About five minutes later, we squinted to see him as he splashed around in the world’s most incredible zero-edge pool.

Can you find him?

Racing Across a Wonder of the World

We raced back across one of the Seven Natural Wonders in the dark. It will forever be one of my favorite memories. It left us determined to make it all the way to Devil’s Pool on our next trip to Zambia. Third times a charm!

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