Pushing The Limits Of Omni-Freeze Zero….And Myself
The third day of our adventures started at 5:00a so that the 25 or so of us going on the extension could make the trek via bus to meet up with our Arizona Outback Adventures AKA AOA Guides to venture to the Grand Canyon. We even got to ride along Route 66 and made a stop in Seligman. Mark that off the bucket list!
Prior to my arrival I knew we’d be hiking to Havasu Falls. Even after some research I didn’t really know what it all entailed. I quickly found out that we would actually be hiking 10 miles from the Hualapai Tribe Reservation down to the Havasupai (Supai) Tribe Reservation. 10 miles? No big deal, right?
What I didn’t know is that the first mile of the hike consisted of a 1,000 ft drop into the canyon done through swtichbacks. Thereafter, the remaining miles of the hike consist of an addition 1,300 ft drop. All done in midday sun with little to no shade. In addition, we carried our own packs and it was recommended that we each bring at least 4 liters of water each to remain hydrated. The terrain started as gravel and as the hike went on we found that gravel changing to sand from being pulverized by the horse/mule traffic. I’m so thankful I overcame my issue with sand last year. If I hadn’t this would’ve been an absolutely horrible experience.
Gorgeous blue green water that looks oh so refreshing. The falls are this gorgeous color due to the high mineral content of travertine. And just a little ways more we saw it….
That would be Havasu Falls. Absolutely amazing. It took us all of a few minutes to jump in the water. It was chilly but refreshing. I made sure to bust out my GoPro and took some videos. (Coming soon!) The natural structure of the falls allowed for some climbing and cliff jumping into the pools below. Was this real?!
After our well deserved swim we walked a few steps to AOA’s permanent campsite equipped with a full outdoor kitchen area, picnic tables, Columbia tents, sleeping bags, pads, and our own little “private” access to more blue green water. Just a few steps away composting toilets were available. I kid you not when I say that they didn’t stink. I swear they smelled better than my home bathroom. I was amazed.
After settling in and getting to know our guides Brian, Chris, Jenn, and Sheldon a bit better we were served an absolutely fantastic meal complete with appetizers and dessert. Many of us asked, “Are we really camping?” What made it even better? I had special vegan dishes made just for me. Each meal I had what the others were eating but with slight changes to make them vegan. Throughout the trip they even asked me if it was ok to use certain products or cook it in a certain location due to cross contamination. I never get this “service” in a regular restaurant or eat this well at home. AOA rocked my world when it came to my food.
The first evening in the canyon we spent exploring caves. To finish the evening we sat quietly at the entrance of one cave with the stars glowing above. I’ve never seen such a clear sky. I once again found myself literally pinching myself making sure the experience was real.
Although it was warm at night I enjoyed it. Anytime I’ve been camping I’ve woken up to cold mornings filled with dew all over my gear. This didn’t happen in Arizona. After being served fresh fruit and vegan pancakes for breakfast it was time for another day of adventures.
We spent the day going in an out of water doing things I never dreamed I’d be doing. Like, climbing down near vertical walls to get to Mooney Falls. A little anxiety with that but I think everyone will agree I took it in stride and you wouldn’t have guessed I had never done anything like that before.
Later in the day Brian and Chris took us to a location with a hidden waterfall. Although many were cliff jumping from high above I chose to go with the 10 ft distance. I gathered my courage, took a deep breath, and jumped.
Photo Credit to Katie Boue’
We then crossed the water, hand in hand to support each other, and ventured on to a new location, New Navajo Falls.
Is this what Heaven looks like? After traversing the hurricane deck of the falls we found ourselves in the surprisingly warm “Paradise Pool Jacuzzi”.
It was just about time to head back to camp for dinner but we had to make a quick stop at Rock Falls. This is when I had a brave moment and thought, “I’ve done so many things outside my comfort zone on this trip. Why not one more?” So as Elphaba says, “It’s time to trust my instincts, close me eyes, and leap….” and so I did…..off a 30 ft waterfall.
Photo Credit to Katie Boue’
The thrill was unimaginable. There are not enough adjectives in the world describe the experience. I was flying high all night.
Before I knew it 5am had arrived on our final morning and it was time to make our trek out of the canyon. The sooner we headed out the better off we’d be in order to avoid direct sun exposure. Katie and I teamed up and started our 4 hour journey.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. I pride myself on being a pretty tough cookie, but the hike out was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. Remember, I run/bike on pavement. I was totally out of my element. The heat + sand + incline + switchbacks called for me harden up. Although it was physically hard, it was also a test of my mental toughness. Katie and I had many o’ moments of bonding during those 4 hours.
But we did it.
I had a quiet emotional moment. I couldn’t wrap my head around what all I’d experienced in the past 48 hours. Pushing my limits, stepping outside my comfort zone, and soaking up every moment for all that it’s worth.
So, is Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero legit? After putting it to the test in some extreme conditions, heck yes! TOTALLY legit. I almost passed on taking my neck gaiter to the Grand Canyon and am SO grateful I took it along. I’m not normally the type to wear and gaiter but I think it’s safe to say that it was the favorite of everyone on the trip.
After several hours in a bus to get to Phoenix and long showers we finished our trip by having a farewell dinner. I hated to see that our time together was coming to an end. These people, who I considered strangers just days before, were now some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. Needless to say the next 24 hours for me were quite emotional.
Just before beginning our hike into the Grand Canyon one of our guides told me that the hike would be a life changing experience. Little did I know, he was absolutely right.
Keep Smiling and Be Grateful =)
Want to see more photos of my trip? Follow this link!
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